New federal dollars are being sought to give subway riders a little more breathing room on the jam-packed L train and add new entrances on Avenue A in Manhattan.
Sen. Charles Schumer sent a letter on Tuesday to the Federal Transit Administration that asked for the agency to pay for half of a $300 million project to increase the number of riders that the L train line can move. The money would come from a grant in the federal 2017 budget.
The project includes three new power substations, which would give the MTA enough juice to run two more trains an hour. Those trains could carry an additional 2,200 riders.
It also includes adding new entrances, staircases, and wheelchair-accessible elevators at the Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, and First Avenue, Manhattan, stations. The latter would also get new entrances from Avenue A.
“Sometimes getting on the L train at rush hour is harder than getting tickets for a Beyoncé concert or Hamilton on Broadway,” said Schumer in a statement.
Almost 50,000 people use the First Avenue and Bedford Avenue stations on weekdays from among more than 300,000 people who ride the L train line overall.
“This critical project would increase capacity and reduce overcrowding on the L Train, which runs through neighborhoods that have seen the largest increases in population in New York City, and add entrances and elevators at the 1st Avenue and Bedford Avenue stations,” wrote Sen. Schumer in the letter to the FTA. The neighborhoods along the L line route include Chelsea, Williamsburg, Bushwick and East New York.
The FTA declined to comment.
The 10-mile line is already one of the few MTA routes that uses communication-based train signaling, a modern system that can run more trains. The crowded No. 7 train will become the second line to use it.
Since the new signal system was installed in 2007, the L has been moving 27% more people, the MTA says.
“We’re grateful for Sen. Schumer’s support, and we are committed to working with the FTA on this vital project to expand capacity on the L line,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
It has not been determined yet when construction would start if the MTA gets the grant, and the MTA would not say why this project was chosen over others to seek grant funding.