Tunnel Vision

How the MTA Wants You to Get Around During the L train Shutdown

There have been many proposals, but the agencies that will make the final call recently discussed their first draft at a solution.
May 25, 2017, 4:23pm
Photo of the Williamsburg Bridge via @bernard_en_va

In early 2019 the L train in New York City will shut down for 15 months to repair damage caused during Hurricane Sandy. Leading up to the closure, VICE will be providing relevant updates and proposals, as well as profiles of community members and businesses along the affected route in a series we're calling Tunnel Vision. Read more about the project here .

There is an idea for a 'Skyway,' or a shiny new gondola, lifting 5,000 New Yorkers every hour over the East River in five minutes flat. There is another for a carless 14th Street, letting pedestrians, buses, and bikes roam free on the notoriously slow corridor. And another and another for NYC's mass transit writ large, as the city faces a burgeoning transit crisis with rampant delays, and a growing population.


The proposed alternatives to the L train shutdown in April 2019, which will last 15 months and leave 225,000 riders stranded daily, are in no short supply. But for now, they're just pipe dreams. It's up to the city's Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to make the final call, with a full-fledged mitigation plan that is due out sometime this fall.

Last weekend, however, riders were given a glimpse of what may come to their rush hour commute.

According to the New York Daily News, the powers that be—namely MTA Interim Director Ronnie Hakim, and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg—pitched their ideas to a group of elected officials on Friday. And they include two major features: a ferry connecting North Williamsburg and Manhattan's East 20th Street; and an HOV lane for the Williamsburg Bridge.

The ferry would reportedly seek to carry the same number of people the L train does daily, with eight boats every hour, and 1,200 passengers in each. Meanwhile, the HOV lane would be open to vehicles with two or more passengers. It'd run on the inner lane of the bridge, which is usually clogged with traffic in the mornings and evenings.

No word yet on whether that means it'd also be a dedicated bus lane, which a number of advocates have called for. Or how the ferry would work in conjunction with the newly launched NYC Ferry, which doesn't take MetroCards, but still costs the same price as a single ride: $2.75. Whatever the case, for hundreds of thousands of people, something is better than nothing at this point.

The MTA has been reached for a comment on the reports, but had not responded as of press time.

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