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MTA Letter: L Project Weekend Review

April 29, 2019

An open letter to our customers and all New Yorkers:


Now that the first weekend of this phase of the L Project has ended, we want to take a moment to thank you, the customer, for making it a success. The first three days of the new plan went relatively smoothly thanks to the tireless efforts and dedication of NYCT employees and your patience and flexibility. And while we at the MTA are grateful, we are not surprised – we’re New Yorkers, and New Yorkers are able to handle difficult situations and figure things out.

Despite the success we saw this weekend and this morning, we wanted to share some thoughts on how we will continue to improve over the coming nights and weekends, so that our customer information and our subway and bus operations run progressively more smoothly.

First, let’s talk about some things that went right. Most important, we kept people safe. In close partnership with the NYPD, we had hundreds of staff in the field, directing customers to where they needed to go, keeping lines orderly where needed, and making sure everyone had good information. In the dozens of hours we spent in the field this weekend, we saw time and time again, our staff going the extra mile to make sure customers got what they needed.

Second, we kept the trains moving – our schedule held up, and we had steady twenty-minute headways most of the weekend. Customers were typically able to board the first train that came into the platform, and most trains were not overcrowded.

And third, people took advantage of our robust alternative service options. Ridership on the J/M between Brooklyn and Manhattan doubled, our enhanced M14 service was able to accommodate everyone who wanted to use it, and ridership on the Williamsburg Link was light, which is evidence the word got out to take other subway lines. Our customers’ use of alternative service is critical to the project’s success, and we encourage everyone to keep it up.

On the other hand, there were a number of things that didn’t go as well as we would have liked. On this first weekend, we encountered a software bug that caused errors in our countdown clocks. We’re continuing to work through the issue, and are committed to getting it right. In the meantime, as we did this weekend, we will mitigate the problem by providing in-station announcements with real-time train arrival information on the L.

At certain times during the day, we did see bunching and congestion along the M14 corridor. The MTA will continue to work with the NYPD to improve traffic flow to keep buses moving, so that the bus remains the best option for crosstown travel throughout the weekend. We also are excited to implement Select Bus Service (SBS) starting in June which, along with the busway the City will be installing, will allow buses to move much faster.

As we noted earlier, our trains largely ran according to schedule, but we did have a few isolated delays caused by work trains, which caused several periods with longer than desired gaps in service. This is something we’ve been very focused on in the lead-up to the project, taking extra precautions to ensure they don’t slow down service. We’ll be reviewing our plans to reduce even these isolated incidents in the future.

Looking back on the weekend, we continue to reflect on two things – one, how talented our New York City Transit staff is. The women and men of NYCT are so professional, dedicated, and talented, especially in the face of adversity.

We were also continuously reminded how much better this plan is than the original, and what a huge benefit it is that we are able to provide service to hundreds of thousands more people than we otherwise would have. We owe Governor Cuomo and the Cornell and Columbia engineering schools a huge debt of gratitude for enabling the MTA to make a better decision, which allows us to provide the best possible service for New Yorkers, while making critical improvements that will extend life of the tunnels and improve L train service and reliability for generations to come.


See you on the system,

MTA Leadership