Home Manhattan A 14th Street ‘Peopleway’ for the L train shutdown and forever

A 14th Street ‘Peopleway’ for the L train shutdown and forever

by Benjamin Kabak

Transportation Alternatives has expanded on the RPA’s modest call for a pedestrianized few blocks of 14th St.

There’s been a low-level drumbeat, sometimes crescendoing, over the past decade regarding Manhattan’s river-to-river cross streets. Vision42, an on-again/off again advocacy group, has long pushed for a car-free 42nd Street devoted to light rail and people, and a plan put forward by the Bloomberg Administration and doomed by recalcitrant Community Boards would have converted 34th St. into a Transitway primarily for the benefit of tens of thousands of daily bus riders who use this popular corridor. Now, the looming L train shutdown may give advocacy groups and the city a third bite at the crosstown apple.

Although the L train shutdown isn’t likely to begin before 2019, the MTA has to announce its plans later this year, and various groups are jockeying for a voice at the table. Although I think the effects of the shutdown have been blown out of proportion, the city’s and MTA’s options for dealing with the shutdown are both obvious and limited, as I explored in January. I offered then a seven-point plan to address the shutdown including expanding all nearby and connecting subway service while turning the Williamsburg Bridge into a bus-only route, and now Transportation Alternatives has taken this idea one step further. Building on a proposal from the RPA, the TA wants 14th St., from river to river, to be a peopleway, both during the L train shutdown and after.

The TA held a launch event for this idea last night after issuing a release with the general outline of the plan last week. Here is their thinking:

Right now, approximately 50,000 people use the L train every day within Manhattan alone. In 2015, average weekday bus ridership on the M14 line was 32,868 commuters. Given that the M14 will not be able to meet the demand resulting from an L train shutdown, we need to transform 14th Street into a PeopleWay, a public transit corridor that maximizes bus ridership and facilitates an increase in biking and walking to accommodate stranded weekday commuters.

Private motor vehicle trips are the least efficient form of travel in terms of capacity. The City would not be able to cover the loss of the L train with car trips without tearing down buildings to create additional street space. Sidewalks, protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes carry 15 times as many people as lanes for private cars. A combination of two-way protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes and expanded sidewalks could double the corridor’s current capacity, serving up to 24,500 people per hour or more than 500,000 people per day, according to figures from NACTO.

The Regional Plan Association has proposed closing 14th Street to private cars between Irving Place and Sixth Avenue, with expanded bus service. We share the vision that the City should turn the entire 14th Street corridor into a “PeopleWay,” replacing existing private vehicle traffic and suspended subway travel with bus rapid transit, bikeways, and more sidewalk space. We believe that the City should not only create this PeopleWay to meet the challenges of the L train shutdown, but also make it permanent as part of the effort to create a more sustainable and efficient transportation system for New York City’s future.

The RPA’s plan is far too modest, and it’s obvious the problems that would arise by closing just an avenue and a half to cars. But a river-to-river repurposing of 14th St. during the L train shutdown, as the TA has proposed, would be truly transformative. Buses would run frequently and smoothly along the path of the L train, and the MTA and DOT could reconfigure peak-hour routes off of the Williamsburg Bridge and up or down 1st or 2nd Avenues to provide a busway from Brooklyn as well.

It’s no small task to implement an idea like this. Residents concerned primarily with door-to-door private car access who suddenly forget how to walk a block or two have been loud, vocal opponents of these types of ideas, but at some point before 2019, the city is going to have to do something to address the mobility challenges and L train shutdown will bring. A Peopleway is a prime opportunity to show this idea — handing city streets over to transit and pedestrians and bikers — can not only work but be very successful. Business owners along the route who recognize that their customers walk and use transit are on board. Now it’s up to the city to join the plan. If, or when, it works, the Peopleway is an idea that could just stick around for a while.

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Nyland8 June 23, 2016 - 3:20 am

“Business owners along the route who recognize that their customers walk and use transit are on board.”

Really? How will they get deliveries?

Craig June 23, 2016 - 8:03 am

Probably by allowing a limited number of vehicles to enter the zone for that explicit purpose (perhaps limited to certain hours), just like they do in numerous cities across the world.

VLM June 23, 2016 - 10:53 am

Or perhaps these trucks could, you know, park on an avenue and walk around the corner? These are not insurmountable problems.

Jimmy Snoogans June 23, 2016 - 5:54 pm

There are plenty of zones throughout the city where trucks cannot park or even drive. Look at Times Sq, 34th Street, and large portions of the Avenues. They get it done just fine.

Bronx Resident June 23, 2016 - 9:51 pm

The same way it’s done elsewhere.

Eric June 23, 2016 - 3:42 am

A partial closure is also somewhat helpful on the parts that remain open. Because it is impossible to make a through trip, travelling on the open parts is less desirable so there is less traffic there.

Eric June 23, 2016 - 3:42 am

Meaning, less delays for buses.

John-2 June 23, 2016 - 7:15 am

As with 34th and 42nd streets, one problem that comes up with 14th is that at least one of the adjacent side streets doesn’t through-run from east side to west side — 33rd gets stopped by mandatory turns at Park and Sixth avenues; neither 41st nor 43rd streets make it all the way across the island due to Tudor City, Grand Central and the NYPL; and with 14th Street it’s Union Square Park and Stuyvesant Town that limit alternative routing.

Westbound 13th Street does run through (taking into account the forced jog around Jackson Square), so a 14th Street modification might want to follow the original plan for the 34th Street busway, and instead of shutting off all traffic on 14th, just make it one-way eastbound, which would leave enough space for the dedicated bus lanes while not totally locking down crosstown traffic (though obviously some residents on 13th won’t be happy with the boost in westbound traffic they’d get).

NattyB June 23, 2016 - 9:29 am

A couple questions:

1. There has to be at least one parking garage that faces on to 14th street? How would that be addressed?

2. I recognize that delivery services should still play a role. In other places of the world, they permit deliveries in “pedestrian corridors” during last night and early morning hours. Wouldn’t we need something like that? Especially for garbage pick up?

BoerumBum June 23, 2016 - 9:33 am

I think this plan will be made or broken around three details:

1) Deliveries: There will need to be hours of the day when trucks making deliveries to local businesses are allowed. Ideally during non-peak hours.

2) NIMBYs: People who love the status quo need to either be brought onboard or be shown to be in the minority

3) Political patronage: Somebody powerful needs to sponsor it or it’s just a transitblog fantasy.

SEAN June 23, 2016 - 10:15 am

On #1, Exceptions on deliveries can be factored in at particular times.

On #2, If nimbys try to block this through the courts, just do it anyway & defy all injunctions.

On #3, Those with influence will get on board once they realize that there’s something in it for them – an easier commute.

gkoeppel June 23, 2016 - 10:27 am

Has anyone studied how many vehicles of all types (private, taxi, commercial, bus, emergency, police, fire, etc) use 14th Street and what alternate route those vehicles will take? 15th and 16th dead end at Union Sq; 17th is now a single lane. 11th St deadends at Bway/4th Ave. The closest wide cross street is 23rd; Houston is far away and starts east at 6th Ave. Consider, then, the effect on the entire Greenwich Village and Chelsea neighborhoods. Discouraging vehicles running on extractive energy sources is a good idea. Banning their use in ad hoc areas without reasonable alternatives (is madness

Aaron June 23, 2016 - 12:13 pm

In fact, the effect on those neighborhoods will probably be fewer cars and less traffic. Less car access generally produces fewer cars.

Keon Morris June 24, 2016 - 1:42 am

That makes no sense. That’s like saying the GW bridge lane closures produced less traffic as there was less car access. Highly trafficked areas will see increased gridlock.

Eric June 25, 2016 - 4:00 pm

There’s no public transport in parallel with the GW bridge for people to switch to.

In contrast, when you close neighborhood streets, people can switch to public transit or walking.

Manuel June 23, 2016 - 10:50 am

I work on 14th street and I don’t care what anybody says this shut down is gonna be a disastrous either way you look at it just PRAY….

Stephen Bauman June 23, 2016 - 11:35 am

I agree this will be a disaster.

We can get some idea of its magnitude by staging a trial before the MTA decides on its options. Don’t run run the L train for a week in August. Put in place all the grandiose plans that are supposed to move people more efficiently and see what happens.

If a disaster does develop, there will be time to assess the MTA’s construction options.

Aaron June 23, 2016 - 12:17 pm

Oh, good! If the know-nothings are predicting that making a street car-free will result in absolute carmageddon, this is a sure sign that we are on the right track.


Carmageddon almost never happens. Getting rid of cars GETS RID OF CARS. Reducing automobile access on a major street doesn’t produce more cars on neighboring streets. It produces fewer cars on neighboring streets. And this happens in case after case after case…

Cairns, Atikins, Goodwin:

TimK June 23, 2016 - 5:28 pm

I’m pretty sure the previous posters were talking about the L shutdown, not closing 14th Street to auto traffic.

Stephen Bauman June 23, 2016 - 6:45 pm

You misunderstood me.

I believe this will be a disaster because the buses will not be able to handle the load regardless of whether or not private vehicles are banned from 14th Street. The number of buses required for the load the L train currently handles, will be sufficient to cause gridlock by itself.

Let’s examine the implications of operating a bus lane at NACTO’s figure of 24,500 passengers per hour. The L train operates 20 trains/hr of 8 car trains. Each car holds approximately 145 passengers. This means the L train is providing 20*8*145 or 23,200 passengers per hour. This is close enough to the NACTO quoted figure of 24500 to establish the required service level required to replace L train service.

Suppose articulated buses are used. That’s 75 passengers per bus. Therefore, 24500/75 or 327 buses per hour are required in each direction. By comparison a maximum of 31 buses per hour are currently scheduled for the 14th Street crosstown buses. This represents a 10 fold increase.

That’s one bus every 9.8 seconds at every spot in each direction along 14th Street. These buses do have to make stops to pick up and discharge passengers. Let’s assume these buses are duplicating L trains service and no more. There will be 5 stops along 14th St and 75/5 or 15 passengers will be getting on and off at each stop.

It takes approximately 30 seconds for a bus to move in and out of a stop from the travel lane. It takes an additional 2 seconds for each passenger to board or alight from a bus. That’s a total of 30 + (2*15) + (2*15) or 90 seconds spent at each stop.

Buses are arriving and departing every 9.8 seconds and staying 90 seconds at each stop. This implies there will be an average of 10 buses at each stop at all times.


Adirondacker12800 June 23, 2016 - 7:05 pm

Many of the riders will switch to other trains.
One of the buses can be at 2 W14, the second one at 8W14th the third at `14W14th. Some sort of sorting system could be used too. The corner bus stop is for an all stops bus. The second stop only stops at even avenues at even avenues and odd avenues at odd avenues. The third stop is for the bus that skips four blocks in the middle. Or something. Everything doesn’t have to stop at every corner.

Stephen Bauman June 23, 2016 - 8:13 pm

A physics professor once remarked that something does not exist unless it can be quantified.

“Many of the riders will switch to other trains.”

Could you supply a number to “many.” That will give us some idea regarding how many buses to run and how many L train riders can be accommodated.

“Everything doesn’t have to stop at every corner.”

I’m not. I’m making only 5 stops – 1st, 3rd, Union Sq, 6th Ave and 8th Ave. These are the L train stops.

“Or something. ”

If there is an arrangement that works, it really needs to be spelled out. Too many people will depend on an L train alternate for a “wing it” plan.

Once there is such a detailed arrangement, it can be tested. The first test would be a numbers check, similar to what I presented earlier. After that, a real dry run test should be made.

There may be an acceptable arrangement and there may not. We won’t know unless it’s first tested. That’s what I’m suggesting.

Adirondacker12800 June 23, 2016 - 8:20 pm

More than your suggestion that none of them will?

Stephen Bauman June 23, 2016 - 10:27 pm

All the proposals so far presented fail the simplest quantitative tests. It’s very likely that there is no alternate plan for the L train closing that does not provide an acceptable level discomfort to its daily users.

If that’s the case, re-examining the MTA’s options might be in order.

The MTA’s options minimized the MTA’s cost. Their accounting did not include costs associated with the additional travel time required by its 400K daily patrons. It’s fairly difficult to actually reduce costs. It’s relatively easy not to include costs or shift them to other entities. That’s what the MTA has done.

Manuel June 23, 2016 - 10:08 pm

Hey num nuts how about everybody coming from Brooklyn the J/M trains are already slammed at rush hour as it is what you think it’s gonna look when they shut the L train fool

hU0N June 24, 2016 - 3:36 am

Your numbers are a bit off. NYC artics have a design load of 110-120 pax. On this basis, you’d need 205bph to fully replace the train, or 17.5sec headways. Buses take about 60 sec to pull into a stand, load/unload and pull away. So you’d need probably 4 stands at each stop to operate smoothly.

Artics in NYC are 60 feet long, so they’d need a stand about 72 feet long. In other words, each stop would need to be 4 stands or 300 feet long (or so) to accommodate the required number of buses. That’s really quite doable. (Provided that the street is dedicated to buses).

For a real world, first world comparison, Brisbane in Australia achieves between 15,000 and 18,000 passengers per hour through it’s busiest bus stops using standard 60 foot buses and 4 stands per stop. If you are happy to go all developing world, Bogota moves around 40,000 passengers per direction, per hour with 60 foot artics and just two stands per stop. (Admittedly, they do this by overloading the buses and running skip-stop service). Point is, 24,000 passengers per hour is very far from impossible.

Eric June 25, 2016 - 4:03 pm

These 14th St buses should be free (no fares). That will significantly decrease boarding time. It is also more fair for the people transferring from a subway to 14th St.

Stephen Bauman June 29, 2016 - 10:44 am

Boarding time is the same whether prepayment or free. That time is 1.8 sec/passenger, as per studies. (see below link, page 8-11)


Duke June 26, 2016 - 11:23 pm

The same mechanism which results in auto traffic “disappearing” when roads are removed also applies to transit traffic.

What’s really going on here is that when it becomes inconvenient to go somewhere due to lack of transportation capacity, people stop going there. When a street is closed to auto traffic, people who live elsewhere stop driving to destinations along it. If the businesses don’t suffer it is because the customers from elsewhere they have lost are replaced by local customers due to increased foot traffic.

An L train shutdown will not, logically, require getting 100% of its passengers across the East River by other means. What will actually happen is that many of the people currently making that trip will simply stop making it. People in Williamsburg and people in Alphabet City will suddenly be isolated from each other and stop socializing with each other, instead staying in their respective neighborhoods. People commuting through that tunnel will move so they’re no longer on the opposite side of the river from where they work, change jobs so they no longer have to cross it, have their employers set them up to telecommute, etc.

AMH June 27, 2016 - 10:23 am

Very true. Williamsburgh businesses used to complain about weekend L shutdowns until they realized that they were actually getting more business than usual because people were staying in the neighborhood.

Jedman67 June 27, 2016 - 8:48 am

NY is so gridlocked already that the reduction in cars will barely be noticeable. We’re already way over capacity.

j.b. diGriz June 23, 2016 - 12:27 pm

You mean more disastrous than not doing it?

Steve June 23, 2016 - 1:13 pm

How so? Exactly HOW will this be “disastrous?” Exactly what will be affected? If you are a business owner/employee, do you actually know how many of your customers arrive by private car? Deliveries will continue either during specified hours or by parking around the corner, so that would be only minimally affected. Do you have any facts or data to back up your assertions that it will be “disastrous,” or is it just a belief? As a resident of the 14th Street Corridor, I can testify that for me not having cars should make shopping and dining on 14th Street far more pleasurable and I will probably spend far more money on the street than I do now, and local residents are who usually spend the most in any given neighborhood.

Adirondacker12800 June 23, 2016 - 2:47 pm

It could be buses only. Or buses and local deliveries only. Or buses, local deliveries and taxis. Or buses, local deliveries, taxis and handicapped license plates. It doesn’t take removal of many vehicles to uncongest things.

johndmuller June 23, 2016 - 6:37 pm

On some of the major streets in Manhattan, the traffic sometimes appears to consist almost entirely of taxis.

Will June 23, 2016 - 11:07 am

I am greatly looking forward to this becoming a reality! It already has some local political support and will go a long way towards demonstrating that every city street need not be devoted to vastly inefficient single-occupant vehicle trips. I don’t think there is anyone saying that in the case of a busway, deliveries can’t be made during certain hours, or that emergency vehicles couldn’t co-opt the lanes in the event of an emergency. In fact, it will probably make the jobs of deliverers and first-responders even easier without the obstruction of personal vehicles clogging the way.

Ben Guthrie June 23, 2016 - 11:37 am

Use Ave B to connect the Williamsburg bridge with 14th St

Mike M. June 23, 2016 - 3:03 pm

Three words: Chestnut Street Transitway.

Fourth word: Failure.

Steve June 23, 2016 - 3:24 pm

Three words: Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Four more words: 16th Street Mall, Denver

One last word: Success

Post script: it’s all about the design. For every failed transitway, there are more successes. It’s the attitude of “it has failed in x location, therefore we should not do it” that is the death of all planning efforts. Instead of saying “it won’t work,” how about helping to make it work? We know that closing the L will create problems – doing nothing is not the solution.

Tower18 June 24, 2016 - 1:58 pm

Fulton St in Brooklyn seems to be doing well, it has been and continues to be the city’s 3rd largest commercial district, despite being closed to private autos (and it does seem that at least 80% of drivers do respect this ban).

Manuel June 23, 2016 - 10:15 pm

Shutting the L train down is gonna be a disaster damn near 400k people use it and the J/M trains are already slammed at Rush hour as it is what you think it’s gonna look like when the L goes out

Why do people act stupid on here as if they don’t understand that shutting it down for whatever reason is gonna be a HUGE MESS !!!!

Ike June 23, 2016 - 11:21 pm

Wait, so what are you suggesting as an alternative? The salt water from Superstorm Sandy is very, very slowly corroding the L train tunnel underneath the East River. It has to be fixed. That is reality, not “whatever reason”. It has to be done. What are you suggesting? You think there’s some magical better way?

bigbellymon4 June 24, 2016 - 1:06 am

We all understand that is will be a mess. But this is a chance to maximize East River tunnel capacity but shifting riders to the under-used tunnels (63rd, 53rd). Once there is some jigging of the train routes through these tunnels, there should be plenty of capacity to shuttle riders into Manhattan from via the G at Lorimer. In Manhattan, the bus routes will need to increase their frequency and capacity (instead of standard, articulated buses) to handle riders. Yes, it is thousands of people you need to move to other routes, but if planned right, it should be mess that is easily controlled and monitored.

Frank June 24, 2016 - 8:27 am

The L train has an hourly movement of 20*8*250 = 40000 people per hour in the peak direction

Frequency can be increased as follows:

1. The M train will be expanded to run every 4 minutes (to properly merge with the F train in Manhattan, then with the E train at 53 St for the run to Queens)
2. The G train will be expanded to run every 4-5 minutes (also to properly merge with the F train near Bergen St, and its train length will increase to either 480′ or 600′.
3. Maybe capacity constraints can be addressed on the A/C lines between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and Canal St to increase capacity to 30 tph from 26 tph and run 600′ C trains in order to handle the additional G train volume for the transfer along with more frequent A trains.
4. Advise residents who live in the affected areas to commute earlier in the rush hour (maybe 6:30-7:30AM) or later (around 9AM-10AM) and run rush hour level service on the A C G J and M lines for expanded periods of time.

Additional capacity is available on the 7 train when CBTC rolls out, and because a significant percentage of 7 and riders shift to the N Q* at Queensboro Plaza for direct service to 59 St, so the G train riders can go to the 7 as well as the E and expanded M trains.

As for manhattan crossings:
1. The current M service FROM Metropolitan Av (every 7 minutes approximately) can handle about 250 passengers per car = 8 cars * 8.5 trains per hour * 250 passengers per car = 17000 passengers
The expanded M service (every 4 minutes approximately) can handle =
= 8 cars * 15 trains per hour * 250 passengers = 30000 passengers total
meaning that every hour, an additional 13000 customers can be accommodated per hour on the M train. More could be accommodated if they commute earlier in the rush hour or later, because there would be more space on the trains.

2. The current 7 train service (every 2 minutes 30 seconds) can handle 53460 customers per hour on its 11 car trains at 27 trains per hour. Increasing the 7 to maximum frequency:
30 trains per hour x 11 car trains x 180 customers = 59400 customers = an additional 5940 customers accommodated on the 7 train

3. The current E and M train service (23 trains per hour thru the 53 St Tunnel) can handle:

15 trains per hour x 10 car trains x 250 customers per car = 37500 customers (E train)
8 trains per hour x 8 car trains x 250 customers per car = 16000 customers (M train)

Expanding service by bringing the M train frequency to 15 trains per hour:

(15 trains per hour x 10 car trains x 250 customers) + (15 x 8 x 250) = 37500 (E) + 30000 (M).
An additional 14000 people can be accommodated on the M train at Court Square via the G train or B62/B32 transfer from Williamsburg

40000 people per hour displaced – 13000 people that can be accommodated on the M train originating at Metropolitan Av – 14000 people that can be accommodated on the M train originating at 71 Av via Court Sq G train = 13000 more people to organize per hour

13000 – 5940 people that can be accommodated on the 7 train (assuming increased service and also assuming that at Court Sq, the 7 train was already packed). More people can be displaced if encouraged to switch to the N train at Queensboro Plaza. = 7060 people to still move.

4. The A and C trains currently can handle per hour:
18 trains per hour x 8 car trains x 310 passengers per car = 44640 passengers
8 trains per hour x 8 car trains x 250 passengers per car = 16000 passengers
(Due to 480′ C trains)

Lengthening the C train to 600′ trains:
10 car trains * 8 trains per hour * 250 passengers per car = 20000 passengers
(4000 additional customers accommodated)

If the A/C lines are expanded to accommodate 30 tph on top of this:
30 tph * 250 * 10 = 75000 customers total per hour if we make capacity at 30 tph
26 tph * 250 * 10 = 65000 customers total per hour if we leave capacity at 26 tph
(20 tph x 8 * 310) + (10 tph x 8 * 250) = 49600 (A train) + 20000 (C train) = 69600 customers if capacity is increased, but train lengths on the C line are left at 480′.

10000 additional customers can fit if the C is expanded to 600′ and capacity is increased to 30 tph
5400 additional customers can fit if the C line is left at 480′ trains but capacity is still increased to 30 tph
4000 additional customers can fit if we only increase the C line to 600′, but leave tph the same.

Shuttle buses over the Williamsburg Bridge, expanded B39 service, and expanded ferry service will handle the rest, but as a minority addition. Service on the B32/B62 needs to be expanded to shuttle people to Queens for the 7 E and M trains, along with expansion on the G train.

bigbellymon4 June 24, 2016 - 4:07 pm

Let me stop you right there. The M train WILL NOT RUN FOUR MINUTE HEADWAYS. 1st Reason: not enough trains. 2nd reason: QB Exp tracks handle 30tph. Now, in a perfect world where 15tph (train every 4 mins) for the M was possible, every M train would need to wait in the tunnel between 47-50 Sts and 5 Av-53rd for a minimum of 2 mins. Also, F and E trains get priority due to being QB Express trains.
G train frequencies can be increased, but not to 4-5 mins because (gasp!) Not enough trains. Get where I am going with this yet?
Capacity constraints on the A/C won’t be relieved anytime soon. There is no work planned to increase capacity so your stuck with 26tph. Longer C trains are possible but where are you getting the rail cars from? They don’t grow on trees, you know.
Until you can tell us where you are getting your rail cars from to expand service and where you are getting your money from to operate the added service (MTA is 30+ BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT) you are proposing, please drop a comment. Oh, and nice numbers you have there. Just wished they were realistic though…..

Frank June 25, 2016 - 10:00 pm


To address your issues:

1. By the time the L train shutdown is upon us, all the R179 cars should be available for service and very few R32 cars (if any) will be retired. Yes there will be a lot of subway car shuffling, but hey, it’s better than uproars from other neighborhoods complaining that their trains are too crowded

If you want, I can give you a rough estimate of how the cars shall be shuffled with the aid of joekorners car assignment page from the wiki link

A train: 38 trains of R46 cars = 304 cars (maybe increased to 40 trains = 320 R46 cars)
B train: 160 R68A cars and 40 R68 cars = 200 R68/R68A cars
C train: 180 R32/42 cars (arranged in sets of 10, with the aid of R179 10 car trains (interchangeable with the A train and its R46s = 40 R179 10 car trains + 180 R32/42
D train: 232 R68 cars = 29 trains
E train: 260 R160 cars = 26 trains
F train: 340 R160 cars and 80 R46 cars = 44 trains
G train: 72 R143 cars + 32 R179 8 car trains + 56 R68/R68A cars = 20 trains
J train: 160 R179 8 car trains = 20 trains
L train: 88 R143 cars = 11 trains
M train: all the 8 car R160 trains: 304 cars in service and the rest as spares = 38 trains
N train: 23 trains of R160s
Q train: 18 trains of R160s and 32 R68/R68As
R train: 232 R46 cars = 29 trains
W train: 110 R160 cars = 11 trains

bigbellymon4 June 26, 2016 - 9:46 am

I should be been more specific. Yes, the R179s that arrive will help, but the service levels that you want for the M(15tph),G(12-15tph) and A/C(30tph) will not be provided even if the whole car order came in before 2019. R179s should have started coming in months ago!!!! However, even after your shuffling, it is not possible to provide the service levels you want with the available cars in the system. Plus, there is plenty of other factors you haven’t considered. There is track and signal capacities that you exceeded numerous times.
1. 6th Ave Lcl tracks handle a max of 25tph, and unless CBTC is installed before 2019, it will stay at 25tph for the L shutdown.
2. Cranberry Tunnels (A/C) handle a max of 26tph because of the Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets Switches. Again, no work scheduled to increase capacity to 30tph, so 26tph for 2019.
3. The M will not handle 15tph because MTA Tower operators don’t know how to handle grade crossings like the London subway Tower operators. You will have a conga line of trains easily. No doubt. Also, J/Z trains operate at 10-12 tph during rush, and the Williamsburg Bridge can’t handle 25-27 tph. I don’t remember the max for it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is 20-22tph due to signal modifications after a train crash in the late 1990’s on the bridge.
There are plenty if other sections of track that have capacities that you have exceeded. Too numerous to name. Which leads me to the other biggest problem: Money. Your going to need it for to operate at the frequencies you are proposing. So again, nice numbers you have there. Just wished they where realistic though…..

Frank June 26, 2016 - 1:11 pm


Well, I tried 😛 Shame the MTA can’t get their act together and make sure that at the very least the F and M line track is ready for expansion of the G and M trains. And since they can’t increase capacity elsewhere (Cranberry St Tunnel for example), guess they’ll have to try and shuffle the cars for 600′ C trains.

Walt Gekko June 25, 2016 - 12:17 pm

This is why to me what may still have to happen is somewhat of a modification if there is a complete shutdown where 7-8 sets of four-car (L) trains are used for a shuttle running between 1st and 8th Avenues. As previously outlined:

This would be single-tracked from 1st to just west of 3rd Avenue and double-tracked the rest of the way. The other track would be used for storage.

No more than 2-3 car sets would be in use at any one time. Only one set would be used late nights unless more are warranted.

One tunnel would be opened up every 8-12 weeks (longer than in other proposals) to manually swap cars out and replaced with other cars.

This would keep certain elected officials (including the Manhattan Borough President who already has demanded this) happy as it would keep service running in Manhattan between 1st and 8th Avenues.

bigbellymon4 June 26, 2016 - 9:57 am

I agree. But also, why can’t we use the other track between 3rd and 1st as a yard/maintainance track instead of just yard? The space might not be enough, but it should be sufficient to maintain trains there. No need to open/close tunnels as often unless it is a serious problem. Both 3rd and 1st are side platform stations, so that is even better. Instead of 8-12 weeks, 12-16 weeks.

Michael549 June 26, 2016 - 11:09 am

Why can’t we use the other track between 3rd and 1st as a yard/maintainance track instead of just yard?

There is simply NO AS IN ZERO way to lift the car body off of the train trucks (the whole wheel assembly engine parts unit).

If there is a problem with the train trucks – and no way to repair and/or replace those train trucks – the train does not move! If the train does not move – there goes your train service.

In the previous debates and discussions about how to use the Manhattan portion of the L-train line as a kind of shuttle – the above train repair point was made very clear by the folks that actually operate and repair the trains.


bigbellymon4 June 26, 2016 - 10:32 pm

Thanks for the clarification.

Scott23 June 26, 2016 - 11:41 am

Why not try something simple right away by removing all the passenger car
parking spots on the entire length to 14th street.
Plus limit commercial parking hours to non rush hour times.

Does anyone know why this has not been attempted.

Nyland8 June 26, 2016 - 12:41 pm

Because I reside up in West Harlem, I subscribed to get the MTA service advisories for the 1 Line, and the A,B,C,D Lines, pushed to my smartphone. Those two lines alone – or 5 if you need to break out the individual trains – send me no less than 50 – and often MORE – notices a day – for switching problems, mechanical problems, police investigations, trains taken out of service, unauthorized persons on the track, sick passengers, etc. etc. – all day and night – every day and night. Things are ALWAYS breaking down, and things are ALWAYS getting corrected throughout the day. That is simply the nature of the system. I watched an out-of-service “G Train” headed north on the local track at 145th Street during last Wednesday’s rush hour, and I don’t even know how it got into the borough !! ?? !!

The idea that the L Line can be RELIED UPON as a cross-town service once the tunnel is closed for repair is nothing short of ludicrous. People who need transportation from 1st Ave to 8th Ave. had better get used to the idea that they’ll be riding a bus for the duration of the work. Even at an over-crowded crawl, they will be more reliable than any isolated L Line in Manhattan. Shit happens – and when it does, it’ll be faster to walk, because nothing will be moving between 8th and 1st.

bigbellymon4 June 26, 2016 - 10:45 pm

Depending on the level at 145th (upper level, 207th Yard, Lower level, Concourse Yard), it was deadheading to the yard. You can do so from Bergen St northbound by switching to F and either switching to
1. the A/C at Jay or West 4th or
2. to the D at Broadway-Lafayette, West 4th, or Herald Sq
then running on the lcl tracks. If your confused still, go to nycsubway.org for track maps.

As Michael said above, there is no possibility of repairing trains in Manhattan, so I understand what you are saying. But if this “peopleway’ comes around, walking space should be first and foremost as these stations are all walking distance of Union Square. Yes it will be long, from 1st Av, but walking will be faster than the busses unless the street is closed from vechicular traffic.

george jones June 23, 2018 - 9:01 pm

Shutting down 14th Street to car and truck traffic is the worst idea i’ve ever heard! Please consider the hundreds of thousands of residents , businesses, shoppers, etc.

Why don’t they consider breaking up the streams of busses on to the other cross-town streets that also have access to the north-south subway lines?

23rd Street and 34th Street are as close, if not closer to the ferry slips the consumers will be arriving and departing from. AND Idiot planners have already made it impossible to drive across town on 23rd and 34th streets and make any left or right turns. Experienced drivers have long been avoiding 23 and 34 because of that stupid idea.

Share the load!!!! Split up the busses and keep the traffic flowing for all NYC residents. Some politicos in government are obviously lining up big payoffs for this project.


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