Home Brooklyn On Tap: L, M train service increases; free G-J/M/Z transfer

On Tap: L, M train service increases; free G-J/M/Z transfer

by Benjamin Kabak

For L and M train riders, this fall will bring some much needed capacity improvements during periods of high travel. For G train riders, this summer will bring a five-week service outage along the northern segment of the line as Sandy repair work wraps, but along with this service changes comes a free out-of-system transfer for which many have been clamoring for years. As subway experiments and service patterns go, these are worth some attention.

First, the good news. In addition to service increases this summer that will see more off-peak L train service and weekend M trains terminating at Essex St. instead of in Brooklyn, the MTA plans to add a significant number of trains along those L line and an extra ride along the M come the fall. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Saturday L service will be increased a total of thirty-three round trips between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m;
  • Sunday L service will be increased a total of twenty-three round trips between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m;
  • Weekday evening L service will be increased a total of three round trips;
  • Weekday M service will be increased a total of one round trip (one northbound trip in the morning and one southbound trip in the late afternoon);

These service additions, some of the more significant ones in recent years, come after Transit examined schedules and service demands. “Among the changes is a significant increase in L weekend service, which will decrease wait times for customers as well as increase capacity on a line that continues to see ridership growth, most notably during off peak hours,” NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco said in a statement. “Ridership is at an all-time high, including records for weekend ridership. These are customers who rely on us for all of their transportation needs, both work and play, and we are trying to meet that demand with our available resources.”

The MTA notes that these changes will cost around $1.7 million annually — a pittance for such a significant boost in service — and are in addition to the eight new weekend and weekday L train round trips that are on tap for the summer. The M train service increase will begin when the R train’s Montague St. tunnel is reactivated toward the end of October.

While this is welcome news for a lot of riders in Brooklyn and Queens, those who use the G train to bridge the Newtown Creek crossing will find themselves looking for other options this summer. As part of the Sandy work, the G will not run through the Greenpoint Tube beginning July 26. As an assist to riders looking for alternate routes, the MTA will create a free out-of-system transfer between the G at Broadway and the J/M/Z at Lorimer St. (I’m surprised it’s Lorimer and not Hewes, but that’s a minor point.)

It’s not entirely clear how the free transfer helps out those stranded by the Sandy shutdown as the J and M trains don’t go anywhere near Court Sq. (though the connection to the M will alleviate a lack of access to the E), but this transfer has always been one I believed the MTA should offer even if it meant changing their transfer policies. It allows for better connections into Lower Manhattan and the Sixth Avenue corridor as well as Brooklyn and Queens. “We realize this vital work is going to be an inconvenience for our customers and we’re happy to provide this service to make it easier for people in those affected neighborhoods,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said to the Daily News.

If this transfer proves popular, I have to believe the MTA would consider making it permanent. If anything, as I mentioned, it improves mobility between routes that have always crossed but never connected. That is never a bad development.

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John-2 May 15, 2014 - 1:03 am

The M train does go near Court Square — It just takes a really long time to do it from Lorimer (though I suppose someone currently headed to the area between Houston and 34th streets via a transfer from the G at Court Square to the E or the M would find the Lorimer M transfer option a little annoying, but OK on a short-term basis, and as long as it only runs through the latter part of summer and early fall, when the trek from Broadway-Union to Lorimer will still be in warm weather).

Chris May 15, 2014 - 2:44 am

I guess the transfer is nice and all, but it seems largely meaningless for non-tourists, who presumably have monthly cards, no? I don’t think Lorimer and Broadway is a big tourist locale, like the transfer in Midtown.

lop May 15, 2014 - 3:16 am

Plenty of NYC residents, especially lower income ones, use pay per ride metrocards.


Brandon May 15, 2014 - 10:42 am

People who normally use their bike use pay per ride metrocards.

Benjamin Kabak May 15, 2014 - 10:45 am

Around 50% of subway riders use pay per ride cards. They’re not all using bikes. It’s a significant segment of riders.

Brandon May 15, 2014 - 9:13 pm

I know, I was adding onto what lop already said and further emphasizing that it isnt just tourists.

Phantom May 15, 2014 - 11:13 pm

Pay per ride makes complete sense to those of us who normally don’t take transit on the weekend, and or who travel on business on a regular basis.

An awful lot of people who have unlimited cards would pay less over time with pay per ride IMO.

Elvis Delgaod May 15, 2014 - 7:44 am

As to the Lorimer vs. Hewes question, it’s probably because the entrance to Hewes is really west of Hooper Street, two-plus block from Union Avenue, where the entrances/exits to Broadway are. Lorimer, on the other hand, is just one block east.

LLQBTT May 15, 2014 - 9:17 am

There is an entrance to Hewes at the east end, close to the G, but it is closed.

Kai B May 15, 2014 - 1:28 pm

Yep. I’ve done this transfer several times and I quickly discovered that while Hewes might be slightly closer, Lorimer is closer in practice by open entrance.

Elvis Delgado May 15, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Yeah, I knew that, but it kind of goes without saying that a closed entrance isn’t going to be of use to most passengers. It’s sort of like saying “there’s a station on the Lex at 18th Street, but it is closed”. 🙂

tacony May 15, 2014 - 11:16 pm

Well, the MTA could, ya know, open the closed entrance.

The 18th St “6” (I guess it didn’t become the “6” until after it was nixed) stop doesn’t exist at all anymore and wouldn’t make sense to reopen since they lengthened 14th.

Alan Minor May 15, 2014 - 7:57 am

While this is welcome news for a lot of riders in Brooklyn and Queens, those who use the G train to bridge the Newtown Creek crossing will find themselves looking for other options this summer. As part of the Sandy work, the G will not run through the Greenpoint Tube beginning July 26. As an assist to riders looking for alternate routes, the MTA will create a free out-of-system transfer between the G at Broadway and the J/M/Z at Lorimer St. (I’m surprised it’s Lorimer and not Hewes, but that’s a minor point.)

The southern station entrances on Broadway at the Hewes St. stop are closed, so it’s a longer walk from the Broadway G to get into that station than the Lorimer St. station.

Speaking of Greenpoint, as has been the case forever, the neighborhood is getting the shaft as it relates to transit: no ferry service and limited G train service this summer. Can anyone comment on the experience of using the East River Ferry shuttle bus for his or her commute?

R2 May 15, 2014 - 8:56 am

Pleased to see these increases. Wish there had been an addition to late-night service on the L. It gets super crowded then, too.

Jim D. May 15, 2014 - 11:18 am

I can’t help but wonder if demand will eventually justify extending M service along 6th Avenue on weekends, to 57th Street at least if not all the way to Queens Blvd.

Benjamin Kabak May 15, 2014 - 11:19 am

They can’t turn trains at 57th and 6th with F trains running through. It’s all all or nothing for the M beyond Essex out to Queens Plaza.

Bolwerk May 15, 2014 - 11:49 am

What is the plan anyway? To dwell on the center track at Essex and reverse, or to turn in the Christie Street Connection?

Tower18 May 15, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Yes I think that’s what I saw in the past. The M can be turned on the center track without interfering with the Brooklyn-bound J if the J switches to the outside platform normally used by the M during the week. The nycsubway.org maps don’t show that switch between Bowery and Essex, but apparently it’s there.

Seth Rosenblum May 15, 2014 - 12:08 pm

Could they turn trains on the north track of 63rd street? at least for the next two years…

Benjamin Kabak May 15, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Nope. That’s an active worksite right now.

al May 16, 2014 - 4:06 pm

2 things you need to remember about 63rd St:
The Brick walls are gone, but there’s blue plywood up dividing the IND 6th Ave from the BMT/SAS side of the platforms.
The station has two levels with train reversal one needs to reverse trains located far away.

It is possible to terminate trains at 63rd if you immediately relay the terminating M trains to the 7th Ave and 57th St. Due to the extensive wrong railing, it would require tight scheduling that might be possible on weekends.

1) There would need to be a T/O waiting at the west end of the platform as the M from Metropolitan pulls in on the Jamaica/Hillside bound lower level.

2) That person boards and takes over from the other T/O. The train then reverses and switches over to the tracks that connects 63rd/Lex Ave with 57th/7th Ave (future E96th St bound Q). The train platforms on the Queens bound platform at 57th/7th.

3) Immediately north of 57th/7th Ave, there’s another switch that allows the train to cross between the northbound and southbound tracks. The T/O from Metropolitan takes back control of the train and heads over those switches, and motors over to the upper Southbound level of the 63rd/Lex Ave station.

4) Once there, the T/O form Metropolitan alights and the T/O that boarded on the lower level takes over for a trips to Metropolitan. Conductor swap also takes place here.

Its convoluted, but with F running 6-10 min headways its possible.

Michael May 17, 2014 - 2:17 pm

There have been a few G.O.’s where the L-train has been truncated in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the M-train was extended to 57th Street-Sixth Avenue as it’s replacement.

There is a diamond-cross-over switch immediately south of the 57th Street-Sixth Avenue platform from the days when that station was a terminal for the B and K/KK trains. In any case, rather than a convoluted pathway to the 63rd Street-Lexington Avenue station – if there was a need to extend the M-train further into Manhattan from its Essex Street weekend terminal, but not onto the Queens Blvd line as local, the 57th Street-Sixth Avenue station would be the terminal.

With the M-train extended to Essex Street on the weekends where both F and J train service is available for trips further south or to mid-town – there is less of a NEED to extend the M-train to 57th Street – to service G-train riders who choose to do the “out-of-system” transfer to the J and M trains.

sonicboy678 May 15, 2014 - 5:06 pm

What do you mean? Last I checked, they were basically doing just that all those times the L was cut off from Manhattan on weekends.

Tower18 May 15, 2014 - 10:49 pm

Is it possible that each time they extended the M to 57th, there was a corresponding reroute of the F over 53rd st in one direction? That would make room yo turn the M at 57th, and happens frequently on weekends as it is.

Eric Brasure May 15, 2014 - 11:24 am

I have to think that the Broadway/Lorimer free transfer is partly an attempt to incentivize people that would normally get into Manhattan by G to Court Sq then the 7 or E/M NOT to take the L instead.

Alon Levy May 15, 2014 - 12:41 pm

As an assist to riders looking for alternate routes, the MTA will create a free out-of-system transfer between the G at Broadway and the J/M/Z at Lorimer St.


Next stage: close Hewes and Lorimer and build a station at Manhattan instead, with a permanent free transfer.

Epson45 May 15, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Hewes and Lorimer stations has been renovated, you going to waste more money to demolish both stations already?

Llqbtt May 15, 2014 - 2:15 pm

Not gonna happen any time soon. Lorimer St. serves all of Lindsay Park.

The G runs under Union Ave at the intersection of Broadway. Putting a station at Manhattan Ave doesn’t make sense either. It’d be only a block from the Flushing Ave stop, and the G runs under Union Ave., certainly what Alon meant anyway, a Union Ave stop.

Alon Levy May 15, 2014 - 3:12 pm

Yes, I meant Union. Sorry.

Dave H. May 16, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to build a pedestrian tunnel from the east end of Hewes St. station, running under New Montrose Ave to Union?


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