Improve Plans for the L Train Shutdown Before It’s Too Late

Regional Plan Association: Improve Plans for the L Train Shutdown Before It’s Too Late

New Report Offers Recommendations to Improve the Rider Experience along the L line, Including Accessibility Initiatives, Bold Street Designs to Move People Faster, and Beginning Track Extensions

NEW YORK, NY – Regional Plan Association (RPA) has released a new report  “Will the L Train Shutdown be a Missed Opportunity or Model for the Future?” urging the MTA & NYC DOT to use the L train closure to create transformative change on this segment of the L line, providing lasting benefits both above and below ground. A bolder, more comprehensive approach would provide a new model for how to deliver much-needed upgrades to the subway system more quickly and cost effectively. The time is short for the MTA in particular to make changes before the capital budget for this project is finalized.

“Our subway system needs more than repairs-- it deserves innovative thinking to transform the system and restore New Yorker’s trust," said Tom Wright, President of the Regional Plan Association. "Community groups, business leaders, elected officials and transit advocates have spoken, they want the MTA to use this opportunity to revitalize the system and ensure that people can get around the City during the 15 months the L train is shut down.”

The L train closure presents a unique opportunity for the MTA and Department of Transportation. For the MTA this includes having the time to improve station accessibility at the 3rd and 6th Avenue stations, create better circulation at the notoriously congested Union Square station, and faster, more reliable service on the entire line with track extension work to 9th Avenue. As noted in RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, using longer-term shutdowns on larger segments of lines could save money in construction and bring more urgently needed improvements to the subway system at a faster pace.

The MTA and DOT will also need to work together to show New Yorkers what modern, reliable bus service can look like. DOT should begin to test bold street designs being used in other cities to move people and buses faster. This means prioritizing buses across the East River and along the 14th Street corridor and possibly a center running bus lane on 14th Street. With bus ridership rapidly declining, losing 100 million passengers over the past eight years, the agencies cannot move fast enough to restore faith in the bus system. 

RPAs recommendations for a better L-train project include:

  • Accessibility improvements including elevators at 3rd and 6th Avenue stations
  • 8th Ave track extension and improved terminal at 8th Avenue, which would allow faster and more reliable service along the entire L line
  • Circulation and accessibility improvements at Union Square
  • High capacity bicycle routes
  • Bus priority on access to bridges and designated bus lanes on Williamsburg Bridge
  • A 14th Street transitway, with a center running bus lane
  • HOV 3 on East River crossings
  • Deploy MTA’s new tap and go fare payment on buses serving the L train corridor prior to closure
  • Implementation of Freedom ticket for discounted LIRR fares between Atlantic and Jamaica.
  • Expanded bike share, more stations, and protected bike lanes


This report comes on the heels of RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, which outlined dramatic and forward-thinking proposals for the future of the Tri-State area. In the Fourth Plan the L Train closure is presented as a potential model for future MTA subway reconstruction. The longer term closures of significant portions of lines should provide the MTA with the time needed to achieve dramatic, and significant lasting improvements. And it also provides opportunities to improve surface transit alternatives at the same time.

Click here to view the full report.  The report is the third in a series that RPA has published-- the previous two are included here: A New L Train for New Yorkers and Fixing the L Train and Managing the Shutdown.


About Regional Plan Association

Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and works to implement ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resilience and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced four landmark plans that have transformed the region. For more information, please visit or