The MTA is prepping for big crowds for this weekend’s WorldPride events.
The authority will suspend its L train tunnel rehabilitation this weekend and boost service on other lines to accommodate the more than 2.5 million expected to gather through Manhattan Sunday and revel in festivities over the weekend.
“At the MTA we’re very excited about WorldPride coming to town,” said MTA Transit president Andy Byford on Wednesday. “I happened to live in Sydney when WorldPride came to Sydney, so I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
Patrick J. Foye, the MTA’s chairman and chief executive officer, spoke Wednesday of this weekend’s ridership challenge.
“The MTA wants to do everything we can to accommodate the millions of people coming to celebrate this historic event,” he said at a board meeting.
The L, which has run every 20 minutes during tunnel reconstruction, will run with four-minute waits. There will also be slight adjustments to other lines for Pride events:
- 1 train: Running every six minutes, instead of every eight
- C train: Running every eight minutes, instead of every 10
But the G and M will have their service reduced to pre-L train construction frequency to accommodate the jump in L service:
- G train: Running every 10 minutes, instead of every eight
- M line: Running every 10 minutes, instead of every eight between Metropolitan Avenue and Delancey Street/Essex Street stations
Buses will also operate within the vicinity of the march, but are subject to rerouting, according to the MTA.
Since the L project is progressing ahead of schedule, the MTA felt comfortable making the accommodation, Byford said. The transit president said the MTA is also coordinating with police to make sure buses can get through crowded streets, with “particular attention” being paid to Manhattan’s 14th Street. There will also be extra staffing at stations to help travelers get around and manage crowds, he said.
The MTA for years fielded criticism for not doing enough to adjust service around popular public events, such as a massive, planned protest or the recent Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival, during which dangerous overcrowding lead to the suspension of subway service to the island.
Activists like the Reclaim Pride Coalition, which is behind a counter-event to the Pride March called the Queer Liberation March and Rally, had called for full weekday service this weekend.
“We did see it as a public safety issue,” said Natalie James, 39, of Brooklyn, who co-founded the organization. “That’s not just for the comfort of New Yorkers and visitors, but the safety of New Yorkers and visitors.”
Byford assured revelers that the MTA was ready this time and advised them to take mass transit.
“We’re really pushing the boat out on this,” he said. “We want to do our bit and we want to put on a really good pride service.”