What You Need to Know for the L Train Shutdown

The L train isn’t expected to close for another six months, yet New Yorkers have already begun to prepare for the inevitable. Starting in April 2019, all MTA New York City Transit L train service will be suspended across the East River and within Manhattan for 15 months to repair damage caused by 2012 Superstorm Sandy. The train is still expected to run within Brooklyn, serving all stops, but users should expect and prepare for delays and longer commute times.

Running along 14th Street across Lower Manhattan and into Brooklyn, this temporary closure will directly affect 275,000 daily riders – especially those commuting into Manhattan from Brooklyn. To accommodate those inconvenienced by the shutdown, the MTA will provide free out-of-system transfers between selected subway lines, three additional shuttle bus routes, a ferry route across East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and a new M14 Select Bus Service on 14th Street. In addition, the Department of Transportation will add new bike lanes, bike paths, bus lanes and pedestrian spaces, as well as proposing temporary changes to a number of streets in Manhattan to make commuting easier on NYC residents.

The L train (in grey) runs from mid/lower Manhattan into Brooklyn

The L train (in grey) runs from mid/lower Manhattan into Brooklyn

For a complete list of how to get around during the L train shutdown, Curbed New York put together a comprehensive blog post on the subject, highlighting all confirmed (and some conceptual) alternative ways New Yorkers can navigate getting from point A to B.

So, is there an upside to the L train shutdown? While many residents are dreading the shutdown (with good reason), there’s still reason to stay positive. The shutdown could open new avenues for additional transportation, including a reliable, faster bus system, and changes to make the city more biker-friendly. Rentals in the area could also see a drop in price until construction is finished and stations reopen.

It’s no secret that New York City’s crumbling subway system is in need of major repairs (Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the transit system back in 2017 after an A train derailed in Harlem, injuring 34 people). When the L is reopened, it will come with major station improvements, including more accessible options for those who are handicapped or disabled. In terms of the more nebulous, “Fast Forward” modernization effort, some are also viewing the L train updates as a potential stepping off point for other much-needed station and line improvements.

For more information about New York’s subway improvements, delays, and closures, visit the MTA Homepage.

Kim Hill