top of page

Train Riders Dread Closing of the L Train

Processed with VSCO

Processed with VSCO

Superstorm Sandy was four years ago and New York City is still dealing with the damage it left behind. The latest project – repairs to the L train line connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. But this will leave riders with few options for getting between the two boroughs. Stephan Bisaha went to Brooklyn to hear how L train riders were taking the news. 

BISAHA 1: It’s rush hour and the L train pulling into the Bedford Avenue station is already packed. Alette Winfield stands on the platform and leans her head from door to door before deciding it’s not worth trying to jam her way in.


I feel like if you’re from New York people like pushy and they want to get on train and they’ll push but I felt like just eh, just wait for the next one. It’s not worth, it’s not worth being like a sardine in a can on there. (:09)

BISAHA: Like most L train riders, Winfield is used to letting several trains pass before finally squeezing on. That’s because the trains are already running near full capacity. Riders are clamoring for more service, but instead, they’re about to get less leaving many riders distressed. The MTA knows this, which is why during their first public meeting on the issue at the Marcy Avenue Armory, they came armed with two huge projectors and an eight minute video with slick graphics.


In the entire history of the subway, only the damage we suffered on 9/11 on the 1 line was greater than what we’re facing with Canarsie. (:09)

BISAHA: It showed the eroded walls of the Canarsie tunnel, which connects the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The MTA has two plans in the works, both for 2019. The first would completely shut down the L for a year and a half while the second would reduce service on the line to a fifth of current levels over three years.


It’s going to be a mess at the end of the day no matter what they do. (:03)

BISAHA: David Dobosz has been taking the L since the ‘60s. His wife Patricia says the MTA should just get the repairs over with as soon as possible.


No dilydalying. No uh oh, we forgot we made a mistake. Get it done. Get out. But make sure this community is taken care of because there’s a lot of people that ride that train. (:13)

BISAHA: Two hundred fifty thousand every day, in fact. It’s one of the most crowded subway lines on a transit system that’s used more and more each day. And it’s still not clear how a lot of those riders would get from Manhattan to Brooklyn without the L. Whether it’s one year or three years, it’s ultimately the MTA’s decision how to repair the line. But as another L pulls up at the Bedford Avenue station, Anthony Spano’s making his own choice.


Moving to Jersey. I’m not even going to handle it. (laughing)


So you’re happy to be getting out before there’s any sort of trouble?


Very happy. Yeah. I was thinking about it but I’m not renewing my lease just because of this. (:08)

BISAHA: And that’s a choice a lot of riders are considering as the dread of a Brooklyn without the L sinks in.

Stephan Bisaha, Columbia Radio News.


bottom of page