Sardine-stuffed riders of the 7 line are hopefully in for some long-awaited relief.
The MTA on Monday announced it will be boosting service along the line next April to help cope with the L train shutdown slated to begin that month. The changes come thanks to the expected installation of new signal technology along the line and are part of a service increase that will also add a few rush-hour roundtrips to the 6 line, as well.
“By adding service on the 7 line to prepare for more customers, we’re making sure that once the tunnel work begins, Brooklyn riders can get to where they need to go while Queens customers get the service they depend upon,” MTA Transit president Andy Byford said in a statement.
About 225,000 riders rely on the L train each day to get between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The MTA expects about 80 percent of those commuters to switch to other nearby subway lines — including the 7 by way of the Court Square station in Queens — once L service from Bedford to Eighth avenues closes for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs to the subway’s tunnel.
The 7 line will see 14 additional weekday roundtrips come April 2019 — five new roundtrips between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. and nine additional roundtrips between 5:30 p.m. and midnight.
The additional service is made possible due to the ongoing and long-delayed installation of computerized signal technology known as Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), which will allow the MTA to safely run more trains more closely together than the current, antiquated signal system. That installation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
To meet growing ridership demands along the 6 line, the MTA will add one additional weekday round trip between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and another new round trip between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The MTA first sought to add service along the numbered lines and will next move to modify lettered line service — on G, J and M trains — to also help accommodate the rider spillover during the 15-month L train shutdown.
The MTA will also be prepping track, signal and switch components along the lines near the L, according to Byford. And the transit chief stressed the need for lightening fast responses to delays during the shutdown through a new “command and control” desk at the agency’s Rail Control Center.
“I don’t doubt, being realistic, during 15 months there will be problems. It’s how we react to them,” Byford said. “So we’ve got the Rail Control Center; I would like a separate desk set up at the RCC specifically to keep an eye on minute-by-minute, second-by-second what’s happening during the L line work, so that any sign of trouble we intervene immediately.”