Will The MTA Get It Right With The L Train Shutdown?


The upcoming L Train shutdown could be a major opportunity for the MTA and Department of Transportation to demonstrate a new approach to providing much needed updates and modernization to the New York City transit system. Starting April 2019, the L Train will be closed for 15 months for repairs on the tunnels under the East River. But that time offers the opportunity for both agencies to go a little further and provide a much bigger impact.

Our latest report, “Will the L Train Shutdown be a Missed Opportunity or Model for the Future?” is an urgent call to action, especially for the MTA. Even though 2019 seems far away, the MTA finalizes project budgets and plans years in advance for large projects like this. The time is NOW for them to make changes. Altering the project later adds delays and costs.

Both the MTA and DOT should be thinking more boldly about this project and taking advantage of the 15-month shutdown. The MTA should make stations along the L line more accessible, safer, and the line itself more reliable. The DOT should use this opportunity to test out bold new street designs that would radically improve bus service across the East River and along 14th Street. And the MTA should use Design Build for many of the improvements. And as we’ve outlined in the Fourth Regional Plan, the L train project done right could serve as a model for how the agency could get much needed improvements done across other subway lines in a faster and more cost-effective manner.

“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 from around the region 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.”

Our eight-page report recaps what the MTA and DOT have committed to thus far during the  L Train shutdown, and provides concrete ideas for how both agencies could improve the project and the alternative service plan.

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.

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