NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of thousands of L train subway riders may soon have to find a new way to get around.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering shutting down the line between Manhattan and Brooklyn for more than a year to repair salt water damage in the Canarsie Tunnel from Superstorm Sandy.
“The L Train was inundated with hundreds of thousands of gallons of salty water that flooded into the system during Superstorm Sandy,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said.
Lisberg said the MTA hasn’t decided yet on a part-time or full-time shutdown, one tube at a time or both, CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported. It’s all still a couple of years away in order to come up with a plan.
“Getting them onto the M train and increasing capacity on the M train would be an obvious way to get more people moving,” Lisberg said. “Also if we could get more people to go north to Queens and change at Queens Plaza. There’s a lot of different options.”
With 225,000 daily riders, the L is critical to straphangers from Bushwick and Williamsburg where the commutes are already crowded.
“I would take the J, but it would be terrible,” one commuter told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
“Taking the M or J is a little slower to get into town. Taking the L is a straight shot into the middle of New York to take the 4, 5, or 6,” said Alex Patman.
“I think it’ll be chaos,” said Pat White.
“I think it’s going to actually completely crush the neighborhood if they shut down this train,” Janu Vanier said.
Vanier said he would consider moving if the L was shutdown for a lengthy period of time.
“The time-cost, it’s better to pay more money in another neighborhood or the same amount in another neighborhood where I can get to work in 20 minutes instead of an hour and a half,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing that they’re going to shut down the only line to Manhattan,” another rider told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I don’t know how I’d get to work.”
“It’s awful,” said one woman. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. This is a very convenient train for me.”
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the MTA hasn’t decided on a part-time or full-time shutdown, one tube at a time or both, which could take anywhere from one year to three.
“For three years? I guess people are just going to have to, like, go and do different things,” said another straphanger.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believes the state and the MTA needs to make sure they are taking care of commuters affected by the changes.
“The state has to own up to its responsibility, so if the L train is disrupted, the state, the MTA have to come up with an alternative,” de Blasio said. “The MTA, controlled by the State of New York, is responsible for protecting the interest of those riders. If we feel the state is not protecting the interests of those riders, we will address that very forthrightly.”
The Straphangers Campaign said losing the L train would be tougher than when the Montague Tunnel was out of service for R train repairs because there were more alternatives.
The organization is also urging riders not to panic, saying to wait for a plan with community input, which the MTA is promising.
“We want to work with all of the affected communities, all the stakeholders, all the elected officials, community groups and talk about solutions for this,” Lisberg said.
Shutting down the tunnel entirely for a year or more is still just one option.
The MTA could close it for nights and weekends or close one tube at a time since there are two, Rincon reported. But that would also double the length of the work and make the commute in the meantime even longer.