Over the last few years, as gentrification and population expansion have spread eastward into Queens and Williamsburg, the 7 and L trains have become notoriously overcrowded. Blogs wrote about it; newspapers wrote about it; heck, even the MTA knew about it. But not until those two lines received bad grades (7, L), in the highly unscientific Rider Report Card surveys did the MTA do anything about it.
Better late than never I guess.
Beginning in December, the MTA announced on Thursday, the L and 7 lines will see more frequent rush-hour service in an effort to alleviate chronic overcrowding. Both trains received D grades in the “Adequate room on board at rush hour” category.
According to the MTA, the service upgrades, tabbed to cost $2.6 million a year, will cover rush hour on the 7 and across the board on the L. The details:
Rush hour service, when both local andexpress trains run every two to two-and-a-half minutes, will now begin at 7:10 a.m. and end at 9:05 a.m. Previously, rush hour service began at 7:20 a.m. and ended at 8:50 a.m. During the a.m. peak hours, service on the 7 will increase by 8-percent. Between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Main Street-bound 7 local and 7 express service will operate every four to five minutes apart, instead of the current five to six minutes, a 25-percent increase in service.
Service on the L line is being added … to respond to a larger than anticipated growth in ridership on the line. During the weekday morning rush hour, L trains will run approximately 3.5 minutes apart, instead of every four minutes. Manhattan-bound train trips will increase from 15 train trips to 17 train trips, a 13.3-percent increase in service. In addition, two trains are being added to the schedule during the “shoulder hour” between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. During the midday time period, 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., L trains will run every six minutes apart instead of every eight minutes. In the evening hours, between 8:00 p.m. and midnight, L trains will run every five to 10 minutes apart instead of every six to 12 minutes.
The MTA officials, of course, had to find the cloud in this silver lining. In discussing these service upgrades, MTA NYC Transit President Howard Roberts issued something of an ominous statement. “We’ve heard a similar message from riders on other lines, and while we’re looking at what we can do to alleviate congestion I can’t promise we’ll be able to add service on every line,” he said.
So all you folks on the 4 line hoping for more service should just keep waiting — or cramming yourself into cattle-car rush-hour trains.
Roberts also laid the blame for the L train service increases on the seemingly never-ending signal replacement project. “The Canarsie Line has seen a substantial growth in ridership since 1998, but the old signal system prevented us from adding the amount of service necessary to meet demand,” said Roberts. “With the addition of more equipment on the line in the form of new R160 cars, and the completion of Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signal installation, we can finally provide relief for our riders – especially in Williamsburg and Greenpoint where ridership has grown the most.”
In the end, I’m glad to hear about increased service. For months, all we’ve heard from the MTA all calls about their financial woes and the possibility that service may decrease. Those bad grades certainly silenced those cries. While the East Village Idiot, a frequent victim of the L train, is rightfully annoyed at the MTA, the fact that the MTA is responding to the demands of the riders is a positive sign, even if this move came a few years too late.