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MTA Previews L Train Shutdown With Tuesday Rush Hour J/M Misery

It's 82 degrees and Tuesday, and right on cue, the MTA is here to turn your morning commute into a intestinal squeeze through damp bodies and claustrophobic platforms and rotting infrastructure. This morning's chaos comes courtesy of a stalled train at Bowery, which ground J service to a halt in both directions, and forced at least one train to dump its wet contents—er, people—onto the very narrow platforms of Marcy Avenue. As a result, J/M/Z passengers hoping to board a Manhattan-bound rush hour train in Williamsburg were, to borrow a harrowing phrase used in the transit authority's private documents, crush-loaded.




Those who took the M train instead of the J—as the MTA recommended—fared only slightly better. Gothamist writer Claire Lampen's journey from Bushwick to Soho took over an hour and included several lengthy stops, with little information made available to passengers. The M train did eventually make it into Manhattan—a success story, really—but, according to Lampen, "no one could really get on at Hewes or Marcy because the train was pretty full by the time we got there."

If your L train shutdown alarm bells aren't going off by now, well, they should be. Transit planners are already gravely concerned about saturated platforms at L-adjacent subway lines, which, come April, are expected to somehow absorb around three-quarters of the 225,000 displaced L train riders. For Southside Williamsburg's J/M/Z stops, it's not hard to imagine how the combination of aging tracks, narrow platforms, and fleeing L train refugees could make mornings like today the new normal.

“There’s a real concern that the platforms will be saturated,” Annie Weinstock, a transportation planner and President of BRT Planning International, recently warned us. According to Weinstock’s modeling, around 800 passengers will be unable to access trains at the Marcy J/M/Z stop during the peak commuting hour due to platform bottleneck. And that's when things are running smoothly.

To wit: the coming transit chaos is almost definitely going to be worse than we realize, and much sooner than we previously thought. With the exception of the ambitious vulture capitalist who manages to create and sell a VIP MetroCard, or the security firm who gets the MTA contract to station beefy security guards at the Marcy Avenue entrance, that's bad new for just about everyone.

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