Testimony on the L train Closure

The following testimony was delivered at the MTA board meeting on June 21, 2017. 

I’m Kate Slevin, Vice President of State Programs and Advocacy at the Regional Plan Association, a non-profit research, planning and advocacy organization that works to improve mobility, sustainability, and economic opportunity in the New York region.

The upcoming closure of the L train is bound to be difficult on the 400,000 riders that use the line each weekday. We are eager to continue discussions with the agency about a robust transportation plan so commuters are not left stranded, but I’m here today specifically to urge the MTA and Governor Cuomo to undertake a more ambitious capital project so the shut-down is worth it to riders.

The MTA’s current plan for the closure includes necessary repairs to tunnels and capacity and access improvements at 1st Avenue and Bedford Ave stations.

We ask the agency to pursue similar plans for other stations that will be closed - 3rd Avenue, Union Square, 6th Avenue, and 8th Avenue stations. The MTA’s current plan does not include improvements at these stations, but we were pleased to hear at a briefing last month that the agency is open to amending plans so these stations get these much-needed improvements, especially elevators and better access so those in wheelchairs and with strollers can more easily get around.

When it comes to future service levels, MTA staff has indicated that when the L train reopens, it will include a few more trains per hour – going from the current 20 trains per hour to 22 trains per hour, even though the new signaling system on the L train allows 28-30 trains per hour. More service will be needed, and now is the time to make upgrades to the power network and tracks at the 8thAve station to greatly improve service. This will allow trains to enter and leave stations at faster speeds so that we can reduce overcrowding in Manhattan and Brooklyn as ridership continues to grow.

We hope this board works with the MTA to develop a bigger capital project, one that shows New York what a modern subway looks like.

A transit crisis is here. Subway service has deteriorated over the past few years, with breakdowns, delays, and overcrowding becoming more commonplace, affecting the economy of our city, our environment, and the health of commuters. At the same time, our city’s rapid population growth continues, much of it concentrated along the L train. 

The L train closure provides an opportunity to modernize one line, giving residents and employers renewed faith in the transit system that is the lifeblood of our city. 

Imagine the L train with no overcrowding, trains every 2 minutes, new elevators that work at every station in Manhattan and redesigned stations. We can get there especially with the leadership of this board and Governor Cuomo.  

Thank you for your time.