Testimony on Plans for L-Train Closure

Regional Plan Association Testimony before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on September 26, 2017, calling on the MTA to implement a robust transportation plan in advance of the 15-month L Train Closure, delivered by RPA New York Director Pierina Ana Sanchez.  

I’m here today to talk about the L train closure, and our concern that the MTA is missing this opportunity to restore faith in the broken subway and bus system. We urge the MTA and Governor Cuomo to undertake a more ambitious capital project so the shut-down is worth it to riders.  

This is a unique opportunity to show New Yorkers the benefits of subway closures, which allow work to be undertaken cheaper and faster. We applaud changes the MTA has made to date – increasing public outreach, shutting down the entire line instead of a partial shutdown. But to get there, the L train project must aim higher.  The following improvements should be pursued at the five L train stations in Manhattan that will be closed for 15 month period: 

  • Basic rehabilitation (cosmetic and state of good repair), similar to 30 station design-build program 

  • ADA accessibility and larger working elevators  

  • A pilot program to test Platform Screen Doors 

  • Improved ingress/egress at major transfer points (Union Square, 6th and 8th Avenues) 

  • Expansion of 8th Avenue Terminal, including addition of tail-end tracks  

Doing this would improve L train reliability, speed up service, ease transfers, improve access and increase line-haul capacity. We applaud plans for upgrades at Bedford Ave and 1st Ave, but more action is needed 

We urge the MTA to immediately release an RFP for design-build, bundling work on these five stations into one unified design build procurement. This would allow procurement to take place within a year and synchronize the schedule of these proposed investments with the spring 2019 start date of the tunnel rehabilitation project and closure of the line.  

We also don’t want to miss the chance to show New Yorkers how efficient our streets could be for moving buses. NYC desperately needs street designs that move buses faster and more efficiently. As such, RPA supports an ambitious “transitway” with separated bus lanes along 14th Street so buses can move freely and pilot off board fare payment so bus riders can board faster. It’s up to both Governor Cuomo, who controls the trains and buses, and Mayor de Blasio, who controls the streets, to make sure these changes occur.    

These interventions could serve as a model to dramatically transform subway and bus transportation throughout NYC.  We desperately need these types of projects to show what’s possible, to build support for tough choices necessary to rebuild our declining transportation network.