Straphangers can breathe a tiny sigh of relief.
After pressure from residents, elected officials and grassroots organizations, the MTA has announced that it will beef up service on other train lines and increase service by 25 percent on the X27 express bus from Bay Ridge to Lower Manhattan during the dreaded R train construction.
Specifically, to help G train riders – who are also experiencing a crunch – the MTA will suspend construction on the 7 and L lines during G train repairs; it will consider adding free transfers from the G train Broadway station to the J and M train Lorimer Street station during the five-week tunnel closure in 2014; it will consider extending the G train shuttle bus route to Queens Plaza during the closures and is working with the Department of Transportation to explore accelerating the CitiBike launch in Greenpoint and Williamsburg
In addition, to help R riders, the MTA will make available “gap trains” to add additional service if there are unexpected delays on the 4 and 5 or on the D, N and R lines during R train construction.
The construction includes the closing of the Montague Tube, which carries the train underneath the East River, beginning late night August 2 until at least October, 2014. The closure is vital to make much needed repairs after the tunnel was filled for months with millions of gallons of seawater after Sandy.
“These are valuable first steps to accommodate subway riders when the R and G train tunnels close for repairs. But these closures are going to be a serious problem for thousands of subway riders for more than a year,” said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance. “We are continuing to push for a comprehensive plan that goes all out to accommodate riders while the tunnels are closed.”
Additional alternatives proposed by elected officials such as State Senator Marty Golden and Councilmember Vincent Gentile include increasing X27 service by 50 percent, not the proposed 25 percent; restoring full X28 weekend service; shuttle service from Downtown Brooklyn into Manhattan, making stops at Jay and Court Street; and reinstating ferry service in Southwest Brooklyn.
The MTA board is expected to vote on these details at its board meeting on July 24.