L Train Riders Protest Lack of Communication with DOT and MTA, Demand Action

As the L Train closure draws closer, still no concrete plan or regular communication from MTA or DOT


Hundreds of thousands of riders and hundreds of businesses throughout Northern Brooklyn will be dramatically affected by the L Train Shutdown, announced to start in April 2019. While the closure of this community lifeline is only 17 months away, there are more questions than answers. The community demands a report of the current plans for transportation remediation, a serious discussion around help for local businesses, and information about any street use changes proposed by the Department of Transportation. In addition, there must be a commitment by the responsible agencies and their contractors to meet with a community advisory board on a monthly basis starting in January 2018.

“You can’t have a good relationship without communication,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “If we are going to get through this together, we need to begin frequent and meaningful dialogue. This can only work if the MTA and DOT collaborate and form a solid partnership with each other and with the community. The riders and local businesses have made their concerns clear. In the absence of a plan, everyone is rightfully worried about how they’re going to get through this. We’re ready and we’re listening.”

“The L train shutdown is going to have major implications for the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “The community is asking for transparent communication from the MTA about their mitigation plans, and they need to provide it.  This issue is too important to keep residents in the dark,” 

“Subways are the circulatory system of our City – and a major artery between Brooklyn and Manhattan is going to be cut off in just 17 months. But there are still big questions that haven’t been answered,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “Residents, business owners, and commuters need to have a seat at the table -- and the agencies involved must commit to meeting with stakeholders. I look forward to working with the MTA, the DOT, my colleagues in government, and all of the advocates who have made this a priority to find a solution that works for everyone.”

“The MTA and DOT promised us a plan for transporting commuters when the L Train shuts down – and we want to make sure they’re remembering that residents, workers and customers have to be able to get to Greenpoint/Williamsburg, not avoid it,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Further, we want to be able to influence the plan as it is being made, rather than after it has been finalized. It’s time for the MTA and DOT to show us what they’re considering.”

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said, “The community, both residents and business owners, need specific details from the MTA and DOT as to what their mass transit options will be when the L train shutdown begins in April, 2019.  We started out with a good deal of transparency and communication at the beginning of the process, but now as crunch-time approaches we’re seeing less of that when we should be seeing more.”

“The L train shutdown will negatively impact all north Brooklyn businesses in all sectors; service, hospitality and industrial and manufacturing,” said Leah Archibald, Executive Director of Evergreen. “It is imperative that the city and state exhaust all options to provide support for these businesses, and the thousands of NYC residents that they employ.”

"The Grand Street Business Improvement District (BID) is now at the center of the DOT and MTA’s draft L Train Shutdown mitigation plans,” said Homer Hill, Executive Director Grand Street Business Improvement District. “Reconfigurations of Grand Street’s traffic patterns and usage will have a tremendous effect on the over 150 small businesses located in our district. It  time for the DOT and MTA to release their plans and begin briefing our community on how the L Train Shutdown will impact our small business community."

“April 2019 will be here sooner than we think and our many area businesses who will be affected by the L Train shutdown need to prepare in order to thrive during the 15 months that will follow,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan. “We encourage an ongoing dialogue between the community, the MTA, DOT, and other relevant agencies that will focus on substantial planning and transportation options for these drivers of New York’s economy.”

“There are many businesses in North Brooklyn, both large and small, that need to be told the specifics of the city's plan...and they need to be told right now,” said Paul Samulski, President, North Brooklyn Chamber. “They know what's coming is going to be bad, real bad, but with more information to work with and adequate time for public input and dialog on the plan, they just might be able to creatively think of ways to lessen the severity of the damage.” 

"When the 15-month service disruption commences in April 2019, 66 months will have passed since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City,” said Alan Minor, Chair of the Board of Directors of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG). “In other words, the MTA, DOT, NYCEDC, and other government agencies will have had ample time to coordinate on a plan that both mitigates the impact of the partial closure of the Canarsie Line and bolsters transportation infrastructure so that New Yorkers have greater mobility before, during and after the service disruption. That means ADA accessibility shouldn't be limited to just two stations -- 1 Av and Bedford Av. (The Lorimer St L-Metropolitan Av G station complex is a prime candidate.) It also means reopening closed subway station entrances and street staircases along the most impacted lines to enhance mobility in and out of stations. It also means expanding Citi Bike east of Bushwick Avenue and improving cycling infrastructure in general. And lastly, but certainly not least, it means improving bus service. If no long-term transportation improvements are achieved beyond what MTA and DOT have outlined, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance mobility -- particularly in North Brooklyn -- will have been squandered."

The planned closure of the L train is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. What the MTA and DOT do in the next few months will shape the community for years to come. This is also a chance to change the usual top-down paradigm. By committing to regular meetings with the community, residents will not only be better informed, but they will also be able to weigh in. At a time with public faith in their transportation agencies at an all time low, now is the time to rebuild trust. This certainly won’t be the last time major, disruptive change will affect New Yorkers. For the sake of everyone who relies on the L train, and future impacted communities, it’s time to set a high standard.