Last night, the MTA held its second public meeting regarding the forthcoming L train shutdown that's set to begin in 2019. The meeting followed the same format as last week's—an hour of presentations and canned speeches from MTA officials, followed by brief statements from elected officials and the reading of written questions from the audience. But it did yield one novel idea: turn 14th street into a bus-only route that would ease cross-bound congestion and shuttle Brooklyn-bound passengers to a new ferry terminal on 23rd Street.

"I'd really like to see the possibility that you consider closing 14th street to traffic," State Senator Brad Hoylman told MTA officials Thursday night, earning himself a round of applause. "Let's see about getting those Select Bus Services in order, and maybe after this is built we'll consider keeping 14th street closed to traffic."

That idea was echoed by a number of attendees who submitted questions and comments, including Christine Berthet, who sits on Community Board 4's transportation committee and is a member of CHEKPEDS, a coalition that advocates for pedestrian safety particularly Clinton and Hells Kitchen.

"If they have to shut down L service, they have to do it—but that's an excuse to close 14th to all traffic except buses and maybe deliveries," Berthet told Gothamist. "And if they do that, and people see that the world doesn't end, then maybe they'll leave it like that forever!"

The MTA deferred the question of closing 14th street to all but the M14 to the city's Department of Transportation, but says it would like to make a Select Bus option if L service in Manhattan ceases under the 18-month shutdown option.

"Making 14th Street work is obviously a top priority," NYCT President Veronique Hakim said.

A spokesperson for the DOT sent the following statement: "DOT looks forward to working closely with the MTA regarding all options."

In case you're just tuning in, the MTA is now considering two options for repairing the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Canarsie tunnel: shutting down L train service entirely between 8th Avenue and Bedford Avenue for 18 months, or single-tracking trains between Bedford and Eighth for three years, running trains every 12-15 minutes. The Authority appears to be leaning toward the former option, as it believes it will inconvenience fewer riders—it's said that just one in five of the 225,000 people who travel between the boroughs on the L would be able to take the shuttle under the three-year option, though Hakim noted today that indeed, one fifth of those same riders live by the Bedford Avenue stop, so that might not be the massive inconvenience it initially seemed.

Whichever option it chooses, the MTA will increase capacity on the G train by 160%, and also up capacity on the J and M trains, after completing repairs to the M that could displace some Bushwick residents for as much as six months. It also wants to run the aforementioned 14th Street Select Bus Service, which would travel up to 23rd to connect with a yet-to-be-constructed ferry terminal that would run to and from the North 6th Street East River Ferry terminal.

The MTA still wouldn't confirm whether ferry rides or transfers to shuttle buses would be free, even when pressed on the issue by audience members—who were repeatedly told that they could only ask questions by writing them down and passing them to MTA staffers.

"We need to look at what we're actually providing," MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast hedged. "To say blanket 'free' from their point of origin to their destination, that's a pretty big leap. But in terms of impacts, in terms of additional services...our primary responsibility is to provide service and get people through their work trips, and we have to do that, but it's not a free fare system for all the services we provide...we'll deal with the fare issue."

Last night's meeting also saw the usual number of disgruntled straphangers who dread any lapse in (sometimes) reliable service on the L train.

Christopher Barron, who lives in Bushwick and takes the L to the N, Q, or R to get to his job as a tour guide in Times Square, said that he was upset the MTA had ditched what was initially a third plan to conduct repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel on nights and weekends over the course of seven years. The MTA has said that the work that needs to be done would be too disruptive to have service up and running on a Monday morning after weekend work, and that this option just isn't feasible.

"Overall, I'm a little puzzled, because the storm happened four years ago, so if things were so imminent I don't get why this is an issue now," he told us.

In lieu of the seven-year option, Barron said, he'd prefer the three-year partial shutdown, which would allow limited shuttle service between Brooklyn and Manhattan: "Even if it is reduced, at least you always have something. I'm not confident that the bus service, if that's what they use, will be enough, because these trains are full, so a bus is not going to be able to carry all the capacity that they need."

The MTA intends to hold more of these public meetings, and says it plans to hold one soon in Canarsie, but it hasn't released any details yet. The agency also plans to visit all of the community boards along the L before their summer recesses. A decision between the three-year and 18-month options is expected within the next few months, and will be able to release more information about planned closures before the 2019 shutdown once it's selected its contractor for the project.