Update:The MTA now says fixing the L and G trains is “our highest priority.”
Original post: “The commuters along the G-train rely on the G-train to get to work, and they deserve the same service and respect that other lines get,” Brooklyn City Councilman Steve Levin told The Observer Sunday night. “And the same goes for the L-train.”
Ever since subway service came roaring back on Thursday, and has continued to broaden in the face of the worst disaster the system has seen in its 108-year history, there have still been communities frustrated by a lack of service. One of the most vocal has been those in North Brooklyn, perhaps rightly so. As lines throughout the city saw the resumption of partial service where the tracks remained dry and intact, those living on the G and L lines received no such assistance. Currently, the MTA does not expect to restore service until some time this coming week, making these the last lines to resume even partial service.
“What I expect them to do, I understand the constraints the MTA is working under, and it’s enormous constraints, what I expect them to do is provide the fullest service possible,” Mr. Levin said. “I’m not an engineer, and I appreciate how complex the system is, but I expect that my constituents are treated the same as subway riders in every other neighborhood.” Mr. Levin’s office, which represents Greenpoint and parts of the waterfront stretching from Williamsburg to Brooklyn Heights and then up into Park Slope, has at least called for some sort of shuttle bus service to help replace the absent trains.
The MTA, for its part, says it is doing everything it can with the resources it has, it is providing the fullest service possible. The issue with the L-train is that the line remains flooded up to the Bedford Avenue station, with some of the most extensive flooding in the entire system—the ventilation shaft for the line is located right in East River State Park, feet from the banks and directly in the path of the storm surge. This flooding, combined with the layout of the tracks, makes establishing even partial shuttle service impossible because the trains have no where to turn around as they bounce back and forth between station.
The MTA points to the J-train, which runs roughly parallel with the L line, as an alternative, but that will only lead to further crowding on that line, which like all subways is supposed to be packed on Monday as trains will be running less frequently than usual.
As for the G-train, the justification seems to remain that there is not enough manpower to operate the line, especially at a time when other subway lines carrying more workers into the city every morning will be under-staffed as the MTA continues to recover from the devastation Hurricane Sandy wrought on the system.
Tomorrow, with trains running only every 10 minutes as it is due to technical and manpower issues, to spare manpower on lesser used lines, ones that have commensurate bus service, is not worth it to the agency. This also explains a lack of shuttle bus service for either line.
Logistically, this makes sense, but it also underscores Mr. Levin’s feelings of neglect, as well as that of the thousands of Brooklynites who ride the line every day. “The G-train is not a second class line,” Mr. Levin said. “It’s essential for the MTA to recognize that. For the last couple of years, ridership has been way up on the line, as many new businesses and residents have become reliant on the G-train on a daily basis—not only to get into Manhattan but to travel within Brooklyn and to Queens.”
“It is a critical part of the city’s economy,” he added.
City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who represents Williamsburg and Bushwick, echoed Mr. Levin’s call for improved service on these lines sooner rather than later. “The G line, as the only north/south bound train for Brooklyn and Queens, is an important route for my constituents and I urge the MTA to explore all options, including shuttles, to ensure that people can get to work come Monday,” the councilwoman said in a statement. “Furthermore, it is essential that the MTA identify additional crossover points outside of Broadway Junction.”
“As for the L, it is unacceptable to limit the service of one of the busiest train lines in the city,” Councilwoman Reyna added “The task before the MTA is difficult but not impossible, and alternatives must be provided to those commuting to work.”
But not all Brooklyn politicians backed these calls. Borough President Marty Markowitz is throwing his support behind the MTA’s current course of action.
“The MTA has done a remarkable job of restoring more than 80 percent of the system under very difficult conditions, and making sure Brooklynites have as many transportation options to and from Manhattan, such as the bus bridge,” spokesman Mark Zustovich said. “Additionally, while we understand that the L line is heavily used, restoration of the J train provides at least some service close to Williamsburg and other areas served by the L.”
As for the G, Mr. Zusovitch said his office was still studying what should be done, but there is a strong belief in the need for options to replace limited service. “The MTA should continue providing alternative transportation for riders who have lost their train lines, and the borough president and our staff are communicating directly with the MTA when we believe that Brooklyn passengers require additional options to get around.”