Home Manhattan Some thoughts on Manhattan’s looming L train pain

Some thoughts on Manhattan’s looming L train pain

by Benjamin Kabak
The L train shutdown will affect Manhattan riders too, but the MTA could tack on additional improvements during Sandy repairs. (Via The Wall Street Journal)

The L train shutdown will affect Manhattan riders too, but the MTA could tack on additional improvements during Sandy repairs. (Via The Wall Street Journal)

When it comes to crosstown subways, New York City isn’t particularly well-served by the current set-up. The E and M cut across 53rd St., and the Shuttle and 7 provide service across a portion of 42nd St. But no train provides nearly full-island coverage as the L train does. With five stops from 8th Ave. to 1st Ave. that provide connections to 14 subway routes (and every other Manhattan trunk line), the L is a lifeline for 14th St. and one that could disappear entirely if the MTA implements a full L train shutdown for Sandy repairs.

So far, in all the discussions over the L train shutdown, the focus has been on Brooklyn and rightly so. But the L train’s five stops in Manhattan are popular in their own right, and although riders have alternate routes that aren’t too far away, the end-to-end nature of the 14t St. stops means riders in Manhattan will run into problems too. Now, as the MTA inches closer to determining some sort of solution for the L train, we have a better sense of what a shutdown means for Manhattan as well.

The problem, ultimately, is one of access to yards. If the Canarsie Tubes are shut down completely, the MTA could consider 14th St. shuttle service in Manhattan, but with a major caveat: Trains would not be able to reach a yard. There are no access points from the L to any yards in Manhattan, and any problems in Manhattan would leave the line dead to rights. In The Wall Street Journal today, Andrew Tangel explores this problem. He writes:

A future shutdown of the L train’s East River tunnel for repairs has had Brooklyn residents and businesses on edge, but Manhattan could get its own transit headache. A full closure of the tunnel—and both of its tracks potentially for more than a year—could lead to a shutdown of the L train stops in Manhattan in addition to halting subway service under the East River, cutting off a key crosstown route…

The L doesn’t merge with other lines in Manhattan, meaning a full tunnel closure could prevent subway cars from getting to a yard in the East New York area of Brooklyn where they undergo maintenance, repairs if they break down, or routine inspections. “Those trains could then be trapped,” this person said. “It all depends on the construction schedule and the plan.”

…Business leaders worry that a tunnel shutdown could prevent customers from getting to popular nightlife and dining spots in places such as the Williamsburg area in north Brooklyn. “A full shutdown will cripple that entire part of Brooklyn,” said Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. While closing down one direction of the tunnel at a time would let the MTA keep L trains running between Manhattan and Brooklyn, such a plan could sharply reduce service, transit experts said. The heavily used line’s capacity would drop by 75%, said Rich Barone, vice president for transportation at the Plan Association, a civic group focused on urban planning.

Although the MTA has not yet settled on a plan, their internal efforts seem to be focused around one of two solutions — successive single-tube shutdowns or a full line shutdown. The idea of seven years of inefficient repairs only on nights and weekends doesn’t have many proponents within the agency. As part of these efforts the agency will have to serve Manhattan riders as well as Brooklyn customers, and while I suggested a seven-layer solution to Brooklyn’s problems, we can add another layer for Manhattan. The 14th St. corridor should devote significant space to 24/7 bus lanes to serve those riders stranded by an L train shutdown.

As Tangel reports, the RPA is set to propose a dedicated right of way for buses along 14th St., and the opportunity that may arise due to the Sandy shutdown could give the city cover to see how a crosstown busway works. As you may recall, the previously proposed crosstown transitway 20 blocks to the north died a sad death at the hands of NIMBYs five years ago, and a 14th St. corridor could showcase how this idea should and can work in New York City. It is of course a silver lining to a disruptive cloud, but that L train storm is coming one way or another. Every option for a better solution during (and after) the shutdown should be on the table.

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Stephen Smith April 4, 2016 - 12:19 am

At the very least, we’ll definitely get permanent SBS for the M14 out of this – hopefully with lanes, unlike the M86 SBS. The corridor has enough ridership to merit light rail though, it would be a shame to not even give it a pair of lanes for buses.

Daniel April 4, 2016 - 7:38 am

What makes you certain that we will get SBS service out of it?

Stephen Smith April 4, 2016 - 12:17 pm

The MTA is pretty incompetent, but I don’t think they’re so incompetent that they can’t see that spending a minuscule amount of money on TVMs for the city’s busiest (or second busiest) bus route (in terms of boardings per mile) is a very cheap and easy way to mitigate the L train closure in Manhattan.

Avi April 4, 2016 - 1:28 pm

MTA being incompetent isn’t the issue. The MTA would love to roll out SBS throughout the city. The issue is DOT creating the dedicated lanes and needing/wanting to go through the CBs before doing that. If some NIMBYs along the route object to losing curbside access for their cabs and car parking then SBS won’t happen, regardless of what the MTA wants to do.

NattyB April 4, 2016 - 2:12 pm

Those CBs are losing cross-town L train service. Even people who would prefer to “take a car” will be severely impacted. Those CBs will be desperate for dedicated SBS. Fuck, those CBs will be begging for protected x-town bike lanes too.

Stephen Smith April 4, 2016 - 2:22 pm

SBS doesn’t require dedicated lanes – they did it on the M86 uptown with no lanes, and as far as I know there was no opposition from the community board. Why would there be? A few ticket machines on the sidewalk don’t negatively impact anybody.

imogen April 5, 2016 - 6:15 am

isn’t the m86 the sbs that offered the least improvement over its local route?

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 9:49 am

Is there really much traffic between 8th Ave. and 1st Ave.? 50-75% of the appeal to the L Train seems to be feeding 14th-Union Sq. as is. If the L Train has an effect on the buses, I’d guess it would be to cut them off from some of their users. Trains are often SRO when they leave 8th Ave., and packed to the hilt between Union Square and Dekalb. At night it’s perfectly normal to see nobody getting off your car at a typical station between Union Square and Dekalb, except perhaps Bedford and Lorimer.

(Not that I have a problem with surface transit improvements on 14th. Actually, that’d be great. Just saying I don’t think this will prompt much action.)

John-2 April 4, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Passengers going to/from First Avenue (or Bedford), tend to congregate in the westernmost cars of each train, because that’s where the entrances are at for both stations. Adding eastern entrances at both stops will do a lot to spread out the passenger distribution for those stations, espeically since G train passengers transferring at Lorimer also favor those cars.

(The bunching in the rear two cars is a bigger problem for Canarsie-bound trains, since if there isn’t an arriving Eighth Avenue-bound train at Bedford, Lorimer or First Avenue many riders will walk towards the center of the platform, since that’s where most of the stairs at Union Square, Sixth and Eighth avenues are located.)

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 3:45 pm

Bedford has a Driggs exit (I think ~3rd car from front).

Tower18 April 4, 2016 - 7:09 pm

And Lorimer has an eastern exit too, at, well, Lorimer.

But yes the front of the inbound L is the problem area, because Third, First, Bedford, Lorimer, Graham, Grand, and Montrose (in a row) all have their only or main entrance in the west (front of Manhattan-bound train).

bigbellymon4 April 4, 2016 - 7:45 pm

Bedford does have entrances at the back of the train, just used more heavily by students of the nearby school. Lorimer has entrances at both ends, just that the western entrances are more heavily used. Graham is more to the front of Manhattan-bound trains, but Grand and Montrose both have their only entrances in the EXACT middle. So yes the front is a problem area, but only from Graham to 3rd Av, not Montrose.

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 8:49 pm

My habits are actually the opposite of that. My favorite exit spot on the L is the back of the front car going eastbound to exit at Myrtle or back of the second to last car going Manhattan-bound (to access the stairway most convenient for me at Union Square).

Not disagreeing with John-2’s contention, but seems to me the whole damn train is pretty packed.

Streater April 4, 2016 - 12:33 am

Most L riders from Brooklyn to jobs in Manhattan have to transfer to another line to get to midtown or lower manhattan. I just don’t get why they can’t connect the G at both ends to the F train line in order to make a loop through Manhattan.

The G has the ability to add so much capacity and could easily make up for the problems that an L shutdown will bring… why is no one pushing for this?

Eric Brasure April 4, 2016 - 12:57 am

I’m pretty sure this isn’t possible. There certainly isn’t a switch to send the G from Hoyt to Jay.

streater April 4, 2016 - 6:52 pm

It’s not possible now… but they would have to construct a link… which wouldn’t be long… and it wouldn’t cost as much as building a new line

bigbellymon4 April 4, 2016 - 1:34 am

The G can’t be connected at both to the F. At Court Sq, the tracks at the G platform lead straight into the local tracks at Queens Plaza. At Hoyt-Schemerhorn, there are no crossovers between the G and A/C. Also, the A/C are operating at capacity through the Cranberry Tubes (train capacity, not passenger capacity). Even more evidence is in the track maps at nycsubway.org.

streater April 4, 2016 - 6:54 pm

Do you think I don’t know this already? You’re stating the obvious…

I’m talking about building a connection which wouldn’t have to be that long… and it would be cheaper than building a new line or station.

bigbellymon4 April 4, 2016 - 7:56 pm

Tunneling from the Court Sq station to the 63rd Tunnels is too much of a hassle. You would have to cross the R to/from 60st tunnels, E/M to/from 53rd tunnels, and can’t forget to underpin the 7 elevated. Finally, depending on how deep the 63rd tunnels are, you would have to go above the tracks to connect the Court Sq-bound G to the Manhattan-bound F (can’t go under because of ESA, which uses the pre-built tunnels directly under the 63rd tunnels used by the F). So, no connection for the G to Manhattan will be (or should be) planned.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 4:20 am

The G has track connections only to the F in Brooklyn and M/R in Queens. Everywhere else it is physically disconnected from other lines.

In both these places, the G would have to physically reverse in the station in order to reach Manhattan. This would require drivers at both ends of the train, increasing labor costs. Trains would also have to switch tracks. I’m also not sure the signalling is set up for unorthodox train movements like this.

Bottom line: In the long term I think this is a good idea, at least in Queens. But it’s not something that would be easy to set up overnight.

streater April 4, 2016 - 6:54 pm

Again… Do you think I don’t know this already? You’re stating the obvious…

I’m talking about building a connection which wouldn’t have to be that long… and it would be cheaper than building a new line or station. USE YOUR IMAGINATION!

Eric April 5, 2016 - 7:14 am

See bigbellymon4’s reply above. It wouldn’t be cost-effective to build this connection. (Though I think it would be cost-effective for trains to reverse)

Alex April 4, 2016 - 6:09 pm

As noted, the G has no Manhattan-bound connection. It’s so deliberate, especially at Hoyt-Schermerhorn where it would have been relatively simple at the time of construction. I really wonder about the city’s original rational for this back in the’30s.

My transit fantasy is to connect the G to the (under capacity) F river tunnels and loop it through phase 3 of SAS. Oh to dream.

streater April 4, 2016 - 6:57 pm

As noted… Do you think I don’t know this already? You’re stating the obvious…

No one has a fricken imagination on this site… they just want to state their knowledge that they purposely built the G so it can’t connect to manhattan bound lines.

Well use your imagination… the G is not far from the F line on either side… they could build a connection…

I’m talking about building a connection which wouldn’t have to be that long… and it would be cheaper than building a new line or station.

Nyland8 April 4, 2016 - 7:15 pm

This represents yet another revisiting of what is an old and dated subway paradigm – that every train should be fated to run through the already over-crowded Manhattan trunk lines.

I prefer the view that what we really need is more bypass or belt lines that never touch Manhattan. I’d rather see the G extended up closer to the Bronx, and South to Owl Head as an inner beltway, and see that project built concurrent with a larger radius “Quadboro RX” project doing the same further East.

Every train we climb onto need not go into Manhattan.

streater April 4, 2016 - 9:15 pm

The Triboro RX is a stupid idea… not enough people want or need to travel between the boroughs to justify it. I mean look at the G train… hardly anyone is riding that thing… not even near it’s potential capacity, and most people are using it to transfer into manhattan.

Subways are only really for getting into Manhattan because there is really no other easy way to get into manhattan while it’s pretty easy and faster to drive or take an uber between the boroughs.

HOWEVER… I do see value in having more subways that cross between boroughs BEFORE they eventually head into Manhattan… that’s the only way to justify a subway line (if it ends up in Manhattan)… no one wants live near a subway stop that’s not on a line into Manhattan… SORRY!

Justin Samuels April 4, 2016 - 11:36 pm

You accuse others of not using their imagination, and you aren’t using yours. There’s massive waterfront investment in Brooklyn and Queens to the point where the city is planning a light rail between Sunset Park and Astoria. If more trains are built to carry people around the outer boroughs, more investment in the form of jobs and amenities would create more traffic between the outer boroughs.

And while the G is not at full capacity, it’s not an empty train either. I lived on the G train and are definitely a number of users who don’t take it into Manhattan.

The main six avenue line has both the F and the M and not the capacity to carry the G train, so for that reason alone no connector will be built. Also the purpose of the G is Brooklyn/Queens crosstown. It’s not meant to go into Manhattan.

SCP April 5, 2016 - 12:07 am

These are all your opinions. I love how you think you know what the rest of the 8.5 million New Yorkers want! Guess what, I’m one of those people who would LOVE better transit options between outer boroughs! Not everyone wants or needs to go to Manhattan! I’m in BK, and I have friends in Astoria… Right now I either drive, take an expensive Uber, or a 1-hour subway ride through Manhattan. If there were a Triboro RX, I would most likely have a much easier time getting there! And I would have to bet out of 8.5 million people, there are plenty enough to justify a Triboro RX. Even if some people say they don’t need it now, if it were built, people would find reasons to use it! That’s just the way this city is. Stop thinking that your opinions are exactly the same as everyone else’s.

Bolwerk April 5, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Yeah, look at the G Train. The G Train is often packed.

That said, much of the point of Tribourough RX is to distribute people to Manhattan-bound lines better than is currently possible.

Nyland8 April 5, 2016 - 11:00 am

Hmm. For my money, the only place the L Line should go is straighter, deeper, and right across the Hudson to Lautenberg Station.

It is the shortest distance to span the river of any cross-town line, and with a stop just outside Steven’s Tech to serve high-density northern Hoboken, and another at the 9th Ave HBLR station, it would not only represent a tremendous relief to NYPenn Station traffic, AND the miserably overcrowded PA Bus Terminal, but it would reduce bridge and tunnel automobile crossings, offer east side access to New Jersey commuters, as well as serving NY State MetroNorth customers who come down from Orange and Rockland Counties along the NJTransit Bergen and Main Lines, all of which now have to change trains in Secaucus before getting into midtown – where they then still have to enter the subway system to get where they’re going.

Apologies for the run-on sentence, but it’s long past time to shatter the interstate commuter rail and Port Authority fiefdoms in favor of some sane regional planning. Secaucus has plenty of room for a small yard.

It’s worth noting that long before the Bloomberg administration, and long before the existence of the Secaucus transfer station, a cross-Hudson subway was proposed way back in 1986 – 30 years ago. It was an excellent idea then, and for many reasons, it’s an even better one today. The pending L Train shutdown offers a perfect pretext to, at the very least, start that project with some long overdue deep-running storage and tail tracks west of the Canarsie Line at 8th Ave.

Go West, and go down.

adirondacker12800 April 5, 2016 - 12:06 pm

Just like LIRR riders change at Jamaica, Woodside and Brooklyn?

John-2 April 4, 2016 - 12:35 am

A busway on 14th does have the advantage of not having to deal with the added problem of through traffic using the Queens Midtown and Lincoln tunnels that have to be factored into the equation. The 34th Street corridor includes traffic going to/from Long Island and New Jersey in a way 14th doesn’t, so that taking lanes for a dedicated busway shouldn’t create as many complications.

Tower18 April 4, 2016 - 10:03 am

Part of me really does wish some variant, ideally in tunnel, of the Mid-Manhattan Expressway had been built. We shouldn’t be tearing down neighborhoods to allow easier access for suburban drivers, but there is a legitimate need to connect Long Island with New Jersey, ideally without crossing through Manhattan (per se, on street level anyway).

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 11:14 am

Use the GWB.

Tower18 April 4, 2016 - 7:19 pm

Doesn’t really solve the “ram all the cars through all the neighborhoods” problem.

Right now, Google Maps pegs a random trip from Eastern Queens to Giants Stadium at 48 min via LIE and Lincoln Tunnel, and 57 min via CIP and GWB, plus the MTA toll on the Throgs Neck. More expensive AND longer? What rational driver chooses that? The only people suffering are the non-driving residents and employees in Manhattan.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 7:39 pm

They stopped tolling the Queens-Midtown?

Eric April 4, 2016 - 12:13 pm

Just let NJT through-run with LIRR.

Yan April 4, 2016 - 1:14 pm

That would be more trouble than it’s worth, you’d have to set up catenary along the LIRR and 3rd rail along the NEC, that’s too much of a hassle and neither entity would go through with it

Eric April 4, 2016 - 3:12 pm

1) Less hassle than digging new underwater tunnels
2) Some trains are capable of switching between power systems while running
3) You’d get a lot of the benefit just by through-running to places like Newark and Jamaica, not to the absolute ends of the lines.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 3:32 pm

The only place to turn trains around, in Newark or Jamaica, is the pocket track on the PATH system.
How does changing the logo on the side of the train increase capacity?

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Why not go all out and give each NJT route/terminal a corresponding LIRR route/terminal? That opens up so many possibilities for the whole region.

pete April 4, 2016 - 4:39 pm

SEPTA tried that and abandoned it 10 years ago.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 5:40 pm

SEPTA had two problems which don’t/shouldn’t exist in NYC:
1) All their lines run to the north or west of downtown, so almost any through trip would have a U shape and would be slower than more direct modes of transit.
2) They never had the necessary funding to run all-day frequent service which would make the system useful for more than downtown commuters.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 4:52 pm

Okay. Pair up the Port Washington Branch with the Trenton trains. You are in Little Neck and have a burning desire to go to South Orange. Or Rahway and just have to be in Cedarhurst. Mineola and Metropark.
Long Beach trains to Suffern via the Main Line and Far Rockaway trains to Suffern via the Bergen. All sorts of things in there! Inwood to Ridgewood? Island Park to New Brunswick? Valley Stream to Newark?
New Haven Line to Trenton, which they already do on Sundays and there is a football game in the Meadowlands! It makes it so much easier to get from Yonkers to Hackensack! Or White Plains to Valley Stream…

Nyland8 April 4, 2016 - 5:25 pm

Neither the Bergen nor the Main Lines go through NYPenn. They terminate in Hoboken.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 5:45 pm

Not forever.

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 6:51 pm

Seems kind of silly not to link minor better access from NJ to job centers like Hicksville and Syosett. Even if you have to transfer, it’s probably better to do that in Jamaica than Penn.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 7:35 pm

I’m sure the thousands and thousands of job opportunities in Hicksville ( or Woodbridge ) are going to encourage people to pass up the millions of opportunities in Manhattan. And the much longer commute adds to the attraction.

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 8:54 pm

You make some of the daftest comments. For one, Syosset and Hicksville are about 30 minutes from Penn, so it’s hardly an obscene distance from NJ by the standards of NY metropolitan commutes. For two, surely you’re smart enough to see that take the positions they can get, not the positions they necessarily want. This could be an okay train trip, but not a particularly feasible car trip.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 9:36 pm

What kind of jobs exist at the train stations on Long Island that don’t exist in New Jersey? The kind that make it worthwhile to buy an expensive ticket and take a long commute?

Bolwerk April 4, 2016 - 10:29 pm

In this economy? Probably any kind of job better than burger flipping. 🙁

Eric April 5, 2016 - 7:16 am

It’s a big advantage for one spouse to be able to work in NJ and the other on Long Island.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 6:13 pm

Both Jamaica and Newark Airport are very unconstrained relative to Penn Station. There is plenty of room for minor modifications to allow turnarounds.

Letting a single train run through Penn Station means that many people don’t have to transfer in the station. This shortens dwell times and reduces the crowds in the station.

adirondacker12800 April 4, 2016 - 6:30 pm

Dozens if not scores a day! Everybody else, hundreds and hundreds, will still be changing in Penn Station because that’s the place both of the trains they want to use, stop.

Duke April 4, 2016 - 7:32 pm

Not helpful if your destination isn’t near a train station.

Consider that getting through or around Manhattan is not merely a problem for getting from LI to NJ, it is a problem for getting from LI/Queens/Brooklyn to absolutely anywhere in North America west of the Hudson River.

But yes, some degree of through running between NJT and LIRR would be useful for some trips, and is the sort of thing that would be common sense if not for feudal interstate politics.

John-2 April 4, 2016 - 3:29 pm

Now that agencies have the ability to photo license plates of moving vehicles and send bills to the vehicle owners if they don’t have EZ Pass, a vehicular tunnel (with additional tolls) that dives under all the north-south subway lines across 38th Street to connect would pull a lot of traffic off of the surface streets that’s simply trying to get from New Jersey to Long Island. But the thing would probably cost as much as the Big Dig in Boston or ESA is going to end up costing here.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 6:32 pm

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to let some private contractor build this as a toll road from Secaucus to Long Island City with no Manhattan access. Or perhaps from Liberty State Park in NJ to the Brooklyn Navy Yard area.

Roger April 4, 2016 - 7:43 pm

I hate these “cashless tolling systems”. Privacy questions aside, if you are in a rental car without EZ-pass, you would not only be paying a bill to the agency but also a “service fee” to the car rental company, just because the car is registered at the car rental company, not you.

Santoni April 4, 2016 - 7:59 am

Did anyone see this? Re- 10th Ave canceled station


Avi April 4, 2016 - 9:10 am

Nothing new really. They’re not planning to build the station, just making sure any other construction in the area doesn’t prevent them from building it in the future. It’s like how they leveled the tracks at 10th ave so a station could be built in the future.

Benjamin Kabak April 4, 2016 - 9:12 am

I don’t believe this says anything additional that I didn’t cover in this January post, but I’m doing some double-checking.

Russell April 4, 2016 - 9:32 am

I would be nice to see tail tracks built at 8th Avenue. If it’s really going to be a complete shutdown of the L train for 1.5 years, then surely that’s enough time to make that a reality.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 10:05 am

Does this mean the MTA is actually considering tail tracks, that it’s not just a fantasy of us bloggers?

g April 4, 2016 - 10:53 am

The comments from the RPA seem to indicate it’s on their mind at least. Making significant upgrades to track space, accessibility, and traction power to enable increased frequency and to reduce crowding will make whatever the MTA has to do a lot more palatable to the public.

Surely they sense the PR danger from a public that is already frothing at the mouth over a potential shutdown a couple YEARS from now. They need to deliver some real good news when they break the bad.

Russell April 4, 2016 - 11:21 am

Hopefully they’re considering extending the tail tracks. I’ve seen it mentioned a lot on blogs, but never seen anything official from the MTA. It might very well be a blogger fantasy. Still, they should consider it as throwing a bone to the L riders who would have to put up with a year-long shutdown.

On a related note, does anyone know why the conductor has to switch cabs at 8th Avenue before opening the doors? This always seems to incur an additional 10 second delay from stopping to when the doors open. Maybe if they could get rid of that delay then they wouldn’t need to build tail tracks.

Eric April 4, 2016 - 12:15 pm

Headways on the line are 4 minutes, and they should be 2 minutes. 10 seconds is only a small fraction of that.

bigbellymon4 April 4, 2016 - 8:21 pm

They can’t be 2 minutes without tail tracks.

Eric April 5, 2016 - 7:18 am

Exactly. A small investment in tail tracks (and power systems, etc) would allow the frequency on the entire line to double.

Tower18 April 5, 2016 - 9:46 am

I think they have to “lock” the controls in their cab, walk to the other cab, “unlock” the controls there, and then open the doors from there.

Otherwise the new conductor needs to do this with people trying to board the train, rather than with a train full of passengers who aren’t going anywhere for the next 5-10 seconds.

JJJJ April 4, 2016 - 11:24 am

Have there ever been plans to extend the line west/north?

Eric April 4, 2016 - 12:22 pm

1920 – north along 10th (?) Ave to Yonkers
1926 – west to Hoboken
1954 – west to Jersey City
1986 – north along the West Side

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposed_expansion_of_the_New_York_City_Subway

JJJ April 4, 2016 - 1:34 pm

Nice, thanks

Nyland8 April 4, 2016 - 9:58 am

During the pending shutdown, besides the obvious and long-overdue extension westward past 14th Street – not only for some train storage, but so that trains entering the terminal don’t have to cue up, and then crawl in at 5mph – they should also consider doing at least some demo work at the east end of the 3rd Ave platforms, in preparation for connection to the someday-to-be Phase 3 of the 2nd Ave Subway.

If I recall correctly, that 3rd Ave platform accesses the street at its extreme West end, so reducing the platform width by half for the first/last cars at the extreme East end of the train would have little or no impact on the riding public, even if they started demolition work there tomorrow. As a bonus, if completion of the 2nd Ave Subway ends up getting delayed for another generation, at the very least, we’d wind up with another busy entrance to the 3rd Ave L Train station at 2nd Ave – dare I say maybe even an ADA compliant one. (I don’t recall there being any elevator at the 3rd Ave end).

Let’s not be myopic. Work trains and crews are going to be in and out of the Canarsie tubes day and night, no matter which way they end up going. Since the shutdown will be like force-feeding lemons to a huge segment of the riding public, it behooves the MTA to at least consider getting as much lemonade out of it as they possibly can. And if the pretext for an east side entrance is ADA compliance, they might even be able to shake loose some federal funding for the upgrade.

tacony April 4, 2016 - 11:04 am

Good point.

The 3rd Ave station is currently somewhat pointless, being a single platform length from 1st Ave and Union Square on either side. It made sense when it was a transfer point to the 3rd Ave El and it will make sense as a transfer to the SAS. But right now, you could just close it down to do some work.

Walt Gekko April 4, 2016 - 9:14 pm

One plan I’ve had for years would have the (L) turn northwest after 8th Avenue/14th Street and become a 10th/Amsterdam Avenue line to 72nd Street with provisions to in the future extend the line further. Such new stops would be these (all on 10th/Amsterdam Avenue and all would be 600′ or more in length to allow for longer trains in the future):

23rd Street (exits at 21st and 23rd Street, this station would be three tracks to allow for short turns in Manhattan on 10th Avenue).

31st-33rd Streets (exits as noted), possibly moved down to say 29th-31st Street if a new MSG is built as some have suggested between 9th and 10th Avenues and 28th-30th Streets.

41st Street (Transfer to (7) is that station is ever built there, exits at 41st and 42nd Streets).

49th-50th Streets (exits as noted).

58th Street-Roosevelt Hospital (exits at 57th and 58th Street).

65th Street-Lincoln Center (exits at 65th and 66th Street).

72nd Street-Broadway (Three-track terminal, Transfer to 1/2/3, exits at 72nd and 75th Street with provisions as noted to continue uptown in the future).

bandit April 5, 2016 - 9:26 am

This needs to happen! extending the L to 10th, then north is a great idea. I actually think it should run north to 86th st, then becoming a cross town turning east and maybe under the east river along 27th Ave/Astoria Blvd, then under (or over) Grand Central Parkway to terminate at LGA

pea-jay April 5, 2016 - 9:41 pm

I’ve always thought a 10th Ave subway should bend back eastward on 60th and terminate under the A/B/C/D station. It would pick up more riders from 59/CC than it would terminating under 72.

Now crossing manhattan in the mid 80s and northwestern queens to LGA…interesting. I dont think that would warrant the same level of service as the 14th st. section though.

bandit April 6, 2016 - 10:07 am

Perhaps not. But with 86th getting a SBS, and the need for the subway to reach LGA, I think it’s a good idea. Getting a west side train, an uptown/crosstown, a train to LGA, and transit for East Elmhurst.

JJJ April 4, 2016 - 11:25 am

Why was there never a station built at Ave C/D?

madbandit April 4, 2016 - 12:06 pm

I believe it’s because the grade of the tunnel rising out from the riverbed made it impossible to have a station that close to the waterfront.

Walt Gekko April 4, 2016 - 11:30 am

This is a solution that has been discussed in a few places:

Before the (L) is shut down, several sets of four-car trains (most likely seven or eight) are shipped across for use on a shuttle between 1st and 8th Avenue. Two sets can be stored on a track between the 6th and 8th Avenue (there is a lay-up track between the two stations) that can be backups in case a train breaks down plus two more sets could be stored in one of the tunnels just east of 1st Avenue (again, in case needed) while the other four are in use during peak periods as a shuttle between 1st and 8th Avenue (with single tracking between 3rd and 8th avenue during this period and outside of peak periods one track at 1st avenue used for storing one or two of the trains and the other used for service between 1st and 3rd Avenue in both directions. That can be done in ways that allow for such and also if work had to take place on a train that to be done most likely on the lay-up track between 6th and 8th Avenues.

That likely solves that issue.

Larry Littlefield April 4, 2016 - 12:40 pm

They could probably provide service with two trainsets, each operating on their own track in both directions. No need for switching.

Avi April 4, 2016 - 1:34 pm

Cars are required to be inspected fairly frequently for safety reasons. Even if you had extra cars waiting in Manhattan you’d still need to get the cars to a yard for inspections. That means having some time when you could run the cars through the tunnel. Depending on the work being done in the tunnel this may or may not be possible without significantly extending the construction window.

Walt Gekko April 4, 2016 - 9:07 pm

Such inspections could conceivably be done on the lay-up track between 6th and 8th Avenues as needed (this was one of the items discussed elsewhere on how to keep service between 1st and 8th avenues operations during a shutdown). This is why you would have 6-8 train sets sent over as there might only be a limited number of opportunities to move trains back and forth between stations.

Brooklynite April 5, 2016 - 12:26 am

There’s no pit in the layup-track, nor cranes, nor room for any substantial work. Any work that’s more than very minor would quickly become a major issue. It’s not worth the effort even if it is possible.

Brooklynite April 4, 2016 - 5:40 pm

Platforms should absolutely be extended to 10-car lengths during this shutdown. We missed the chance during the era of Catch Bus to Canarsie, and hopefully another “opportunity” to fully close the line like this doesn’t come about for many years.

bigbellymon4 April 4, 2016 - 8:17 pm

So extend the platforms for 10-car trains until they have yard space for them? Until the MTA expands the fleet (R179), the 10-car platforms won’t be used because they would also have to move the monitors on the platforms and still be operating 8-car trains as they don’t have enough trains. They could also ask Kawasaki and Alstom to manufacture C-cars to insert into the 4-car sets to expand to 5-car sets. In the meantime, a better thing they could work on is trying to expand OPTO to CBTC lines. Saves money they could use elsewhere (like expanding the platforms!!)

Brooklynite April 4, 2016 - 8:35 pm

Adding yard space is much simpler and less disruptive than extending platforms under Manhattan. That’s why the 10-car project should be started while the line is already being closed. The line won’t be 10-car compatible until (almost) all platforms are extended, but this will be a vital start.

Walt Gekko April 4, 2016 - 9:18 pm


They need to build 10-car platforms anyway, so the expansion should be done where possible during shutdowns.

Plus, many of those platforms only have to actually be extended 65 feet or so as they used to handle eight-car trains of BMT Standards that were 67 feet in length (or 536 feet total). As it is, most Eastern Division stations could actually handle nine-car trains thought it would be a very tight fit.

Gorski April 5, 2016 - 10:56 am

Honestly, extending the eastern division stations by four feet (and therefore easily supporting 9 car trains) seems relatively easy and a no-brainer.

Eric April 6, 2016 - 3:20 am

If you’re already going to all the effort to dig up the ground, extending for 65 feet might nit be much harder than 4 feet.

Gorski April 6, 2016 - 12:20 pm

Eh…you might be right, but I also think it might be possible to hollow out a little bit of extra platform space without requiring a huge mess of digging/construction. At most elevated stations, for example, there’s likely enough room to extend platforms two feet in either direction, but adding 60 more at, say, Myrtle-Broadway would be a huge undertaking.

That only comes into play if you want to upgrade the whole Eastern Division. If you only want to do the Canarsie line, sure, go ahead and do the full ten cars.

Nyland8 April 6, 2016 - 4:59 pm

Running 10 cars is far less of a priority, and far less serving of the public’s need, then getting the entire line in tip-top operating shape to run what they already have, reliably and at 2 minute headways. And that can only be achieved by getting some storage and tail tracks west of 8th Avenue – a much more confined and doable project than expanding stations all along the entire length of the L Line, which will still be in operation during the shutdown.

As a frequent subway user, I’d much rather know the next train was only 2 minutes away at peak hours.


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