The deceleration of train L staggered out of the door on Friday night, initiating drastic reductions in night service and weekend with a performance that left many passengers confused, frustrated and convinced that the next 15 to 18 months they will be more painful than previously thought.
The problems started at 9:30 p.m., only half an hour before the L service was set to decrease to the planned 20 minute advances, with trains running only three times per hour. But as the gap between the trains began to grow, the countdown clocks in the L train corridor came forward, demonstrating 41 minutes of waiting until the next train arrived at 8th Avenue.
"The first day, and we're already late, Sinister," Williamsburg resident David Dimicelli said as he looked at the screen on Bedford Avenue. "I was expecting it to be pretty horrible, but …" The 33-year-old supply chain manager fell silent, turned to his partner and reminded him that it was not too late to leave the neighborhood forever.
An L train finally arrived about 30 minutes later, but the MTA was soon forced to disconnect its countdown clocks, leaving passengers in the dark about the train's schedule until about midnight. And even as the official Twitter account of the metro insured clients They could find service information in real time in the MTA application, which was also in the fritz. As of noon on Saturday, the application still did not show the L train service to 8th Avenue.
For many of the city's regular pilots, a group that has 400,000 on a normal day, the underground reality was far from the governor's description of "service that would still work." In Union Square, the crowds were locked along the barricades in the mezzanine, in some cases waiting to board an open train that would not arrive for about an hour. Transit workers, stationed throughout the system in large numbers, practically begged customers to use the largest service on lines M, G and 7, or free transfers on buses M14A / D and Williamsburg Link.
Those who stayed found long waits not only inside the stations, but also in motionless trains. Residence times seemed especially bad in Union Square, where the MTA interlock system means that the service bound for Brooklyn must wait for a train to arrive before switching to the shared route, to avoid the construction area between 3rd. Avenue and Bedford.
"It's worse than I thought," said Alfredo Fernando, a dishwasher in a restaurant near Union Square. Typically leaves work at 11 p.m. to go home to the Graham Avenue stop, he said, and until now he had not seriously considered using other alternatives. "This will be a total disaster for me."
It was 27 minutes since the last train left. The manager of the group station (Shan) goes from car to car and tells the people that it will be another 5-10 minutes. Upstairs, a line of people waiting for the next train. pic.twitter.com/iSnikL4wuo
– Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) April 27, 2019
The omnipresent dancers of the L train show schedule were also frustrated by the service reductions. "This really is ruining the flow for us," said Danny "DocSmooth" Cruz, a resident of the Bronx. Realizing that he would probably have to start acting on a new line, he regretted taking L for granted for so long. "This is the train right here, this is where it really is."
Several brokers noted that they were impressed by the MTA's efforts in human communication. In addition to the strong police presence, hundreds of public transport workers (with their bright orange buttons with "Ask me about Project L" glossy buttons) were scattered throughout the stations distributing literature and doing their best to answer questions. Among them was the president of NYC Transit, Andy Byford, who spent much of his night walking on the platform asking New Yorkers where they were going and if they knew about alternative service options.
A handful of workers also reiterated their own concerns about the safety of the revised L-train project, which some fear could expose employees and passengers to carcinogenic silica dust. "It's going to get dusty here," predicted an MTA employee behind a mask. When asked if he was concerned about air quality during the slowdown, he replied: "I would not be wearing a mask if I was not."
For its part, the MTA described as "scandalous and false" the fears about the dust raised by the construction in the damaged bank. The agency has also promised to make the results of its air quality monitoring available to the public, although it is not clear when or where that information will be published.
New Yorkers work together. Without a countdown clock, they wonder how long they have been waiting for the train L to realize when the last one arrived. MTA worker suggesting they get out of the free bus. @ NY1 pic.twitter.com/9BfKkAa28m
– Van Tieu (@Van_Tieu) April 27, 2019
However, some cyclists said that the reduction in service was an improvement over the previous plan, which would have closed the tunnel completely for 15 months. Kristi Maroutas, a 30-year-old sales executive who moved to Williamsburg last month from Southold, Long Island, said she did not understand why people were going crazy: "If you're really in a hurry, just take an Uber. happy that it's open at all. "
One of the fears that lie ahead about the slowdown, according to transit advocates, is that L Train passengers will massly defect to the travel companies, creating a congestion that clogs the bus service and forces more people to travel. give up public transport. At least half a dozen cyclists told Gothamist on Friday night that they would probably start taking car services between Manhattan and Brooklyn much more often.
While the crowds around Union Square began to fall around midnight, Byford told Gothamist that he was proud of how the MTA had handled the first night of the slowdown, even if there were some "learning points" in the way.
"The goal is to continuously improve," he added. "While Friday is intense for a short period of time, [on Saturday] We will be busy all day. I think tomorrow will be the biggest test. "