am New York: Brooklynites rejoice! MTA adding L train service starting Sunday
North Brooklyn straphangers are finally getting a break.
The MTA will add nearly 100 trains each week along the L line starting Sunday, amNewYork has learned, providing much-needed service for the route, which has seen sardine-like conditions for more than a decade.
Starting this weekend, 16 additional round trips will run each weekday, 11 more will go on Saturdays and another seven, an MTA spokesman confirmed. Although ridership has exploded along the L line in recent years -- more than doubling since 1998 -- the MTA had only increased the number of trains over the same time by about 50%.
The agency recently improved thes signal system along the L line, allowing trains to run more frequentlyy. It is currently doing similar work on the No. 7 line.
"Our work to improve signals continues to bear fruit and improve service for our customers," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said Thursday. "This should ease overcrowding on a line that serves continuously growing populations in Williamsburg, Bushwick and Canarsie."
The MTA has struggled to meet its own guidelines for how many riders should be on each train. The "maximum load" for its eight-car trains is supposed to be 1,160 on weekdays and 430 people on weekends.
But rush-hour trains during the week have been above capacity nearly every year since 1998, agency documents show. With the extra trains, weekday rush-hour service will go from 110% capacity to 98%. On weekday nights, the added service is still expected to leave trains over capacity.
The new service will cost the MTA $1.7 million annually, under a plan approved by the agency's board in October.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who had pushed the MTA to add service along the L and F lines, said he was happy Brooklyn residents would be a little less cramped on the often-packed subways.
"This is not going to be the silver bullet, but this is real good news for L train riders," Squadron said Thursday. "Anyone tired of the crushing crowds and overflowing trains will now have an L train trip less likely to feel like hell."
Borough President Marty Markowitz also lauded the MTA for the added service.
"Residents, artists, merchants and visitors to those areas of Brooklyn have long had to endure packed trains and service disruptions due to construction," Markowitz said in an e-mail. "I applaud the MTA for stepping up service and hope that it will cut down on the waiting times and overcrowding that riders have had to face every day."
Bill Henderson of the MTA's Permanent Citizen's Advisory Committee said the extra service would ease crowding, but added: "I don't know if it'll be enough. It's a start."
"If what you can do with a train isn't enough, there are other things you can do," Henderson said, like adding buses and improving signal equipment. "There are definitely places in the system where there is just not enough track capacity to add a sufficient number of trains to bring it within guidelines," he said.
Michelle Friedman, of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said the group expects the added service will translate to more people traveling to the borough over the summer.
"We think it'll have a very positive impact for businesses," she said.