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.