A murderous transit worker


This story is over 5 years old.

Tunnel Vision

Ghouls Are the Least Scary Part of the Upcoming L Train Shutdown

We went to a haunted house that imagines a future in which the L train is overrun by murderous transit workers and hip DJs.

In early 2019 the L train in New York City will shut down for 15 months between Manhattan and Brooklyn 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.

Update 10/24: The L Train Shutdown Nightmare has tragically been canceled due to "logistics and unforeseen circumstances," but you can still get a look at all the spoOooOky stuff they had in the images below.


The New York City subway system and its grim realities have been described in this space as a policy clusterfuck, a shitshow of historical proportions, and a hellscape of grime and despair. Sometimes, however, the system strays into the realm of true horror—like when someone hangs from the train as it’s flying through tunnels, or when a dozen people get stuck in a station elevator during morning rush hour, or when a straphanger unleashes a plague of bugs onto a packed train, all in the name of “humor.” (Not to mention the plethora of prosthetic limbs in its lost and found.) Claustrophobia and panic on cars and platforms are already recurring fever dreams for New Yorkers, so incidents like these only reinforce the upside-down world that can exist underground.

But recently, just in time for Halloween, New Yorkers are embracing the horror of their commute. In the depths of the Union Square station, the MTA partnered with a number of local spooky sponsors to create a ‘Haunted Subway,’ which welcomed a long line of commuters into a different kind of hell, one that included a man with hooks for hands, a Pennywise-like clown, and a zombie doctor, among others.

Further down the L line, in Brooklyn, a different type of haunted house, dedicated to the upcoming shutdown called the ‘L Train Shutdown Nightmare’ opened in a 40,000-square-foot empty warehouse this week with the tagline: “IT’S THE YEAR 2019 … THE L TRAIN HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN… THINGS DID NOT GO AS PLANNED.” And by that, the organizers at the pop-up Club Transit in Bushwick do not mean more congested streets, prolonged travel times, or uncomfortable commutes, but rather murderous transit workers, zombie riders, and a Mad-Maxian world that the impending transit crisis has created.


“We were working off a fear that people already have,” Adrianna Varedi, an event organizer, told VICE. “We didn’t want to do the typical ‘vampires and goblins,’ but a more niche ‘This is in Brooklyn, and this is what we all fear.’”

Running on the weekends until November 3rd, the haunted experience leads into a club, which will see a rotation of noteworthy DJs. On opening night, we sent photographer Jason Bergman into the ‘Nightmare’ to capture what North Brooklyn would look like if Stephen King wrote the next year of its life. Here’s what he saw:


Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow John on Twitter.