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L train shutdown alternatives need to be locked down so residents can plan, advocates say

Transit advocacy groups are calling for the MTA

Transit advocacy groups are calling for the MTA to provide a clearer and more definitive sense of mitigation plans for the L train shutdown, which will run for 15 months beginning in April 2019. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

One question led transit advocates and elected officials to gather in Williamsburg Wednesday: Just what the L is going on?

The L train shutdown is less than two years away, and groups including the Riders Alliance, Transportation Alternatives and the Regional Plan Association said commuters need a clearer idea of transit contingency plans.

The MTA and city Department of Transportation have floated several mitigation ideas, including increased trains on other Brooklyn lines, additional buses that will travel on the Williamsburg Bridge and even a ferry, but nothing is locked down as of yet, according to both agencies.

Nick Sifuentes, the deputy director of the Riders Alliance, said any of these proposals would bring big changes for people who work and live along the line.

“We need to know what streets are going to have buses on them and what the streets will look like,” he said.

The shutdown will stop L train service for 15 months between Eighth Avenue and Bedford Avenue starting April 2019, allowing the MTA to make critical repairs to the tunnels that were flooded during Superstorm Sandy.

Sifuentes said 225,000 riders travel daily between Brooklyn and Manhattan on the L.

Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, one of several elected officials in attendance Wednesday, said MTA chairman Joe Lhota assured him that he would receive plan updates as soon as the agency was ready.

“Now we have to wait to see if that’s the case,” he said.

Representatives for both the MTA and DOT said they are working on their mitigation plans and have made some progress. A DOT spokeswoman said the MTA has committed an additional 200 buses to run during the shutdown.

An MTA spokesman added that 80 to 85 percent of diverted L train riders will use other subway lines, and they will work to alleviate things further.

“We will provide additional service on the G, J and M lines. We’ll also provide free out-of-system MetroCard transfers between Livonia Avenue on the L and Junius Street on the 3, and between Broadway on the G and the Lorimer Street JMZ station,” spokesman Kevin Ortiz said in a statement.

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