With September coming to a close, now seems like a good time to remind you of the cheeky trick the MTA has reserved for the spookiest month of all: L train service will be suspended every weekend of October. This mini-break promises to be a fun preview of the 15+ months of misery that will begin when the MTA fully suspends L service between Brooklyn and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, starting April 2019.
The MTA originally "announced" this plan back in August, which was either one month ago or a thousand years ago, depending on whom you ask. The weekend service suspensions are necessitated by "track and signal maintenance and improvements, as well as station improvements and other work," according to the MTA.
In the press release announcing the service change, our beloved transit authority casually mentioned that, in addition to suspending L service between 8th Avenue and Myrtle/Wyckoff for the weekend of August 10 to 13, it would also subject us to "six more weekends of this type of proactive maintenance and preparatory work on different parts of the L line in October and November." Those who took the time to scroll down were no doubt delighted to learn that those six weekends included every weekend in October.
You can check out the press release for more details about the L train replacement plan, but in short, the MTA will replace L train service in Manhattan with extra M14A buses and in Brooklyn, with free shuttle buses. These will approximate the L train route between Myrtle/Wyckoff and Lorimer Street, and between Broadway Junction and Myrtle/Wyckoff on those handful of weekends when the shutdown extends further down the track. Additional shuttles will ferry passengers between the Lorimer and Bedford L stops and the J/M/Z, which will be the point of departure for subway commuters trying to access Manhattan from North Brooklyn (and vice versa).
We are reminding you about the impending doom now so that you can enjoy your final weekend of L train action before November, and also so that you can start adapting to life without this very busy transit corridor. Overcrowding on one line often begets delays on others, and the MTA's proposed methods of managing overflow from the L train fail to inspire confidence. New York City Transit plans to partially replace L service with an inadequate-seeming bus route: A test-drive for local officials undertaken in early August saw vehicles tangled in traffic and construction mess for two hours. That strikes me as a nightmarish commute, but even this sub-par option won't be available to everyone: The buses would be able to accommodate an estimated 4,200 people every hour, or roughly 17 percent of the line's 225,000 passengers.
Sure, others have offered alternatives: Take, for example, this "New L" shuttle company that, for $155 per month, invites fancy commuters to weather the storm in WiFi-equipped vans, from which they can tweet angrily as they chomp away on complimentary granola bars and exacerbate the traffic situation on the Williamsburg Bridge. For the masses who cannot afford that exorbitant price tag on top of their regular transit costs, however, the forecast looks bleak—and yet bleaker when you remember that the October shutdown is only part of the larger 15-weekend preview. Yes, we are also looking at service disruptions in November, February, and March. Why no one thought to schedule any of this track and signal maintenance during SantaCon, I couldn't say.