Along with the harsh winter cold, some Brooklyn commuters have had to endure the harsh reality of delays, closures and back riding as a result of extensive repairs to stations along the N train line.
Eighth Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, Kings Highway, Avenue U and 86th Street are the nine stations included in the 14-month renovation on the Manhattan-bound side, followed by an additional 14-month renovation on the Coney Island-bound side, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Since the start of work on the line in mid-January, local pols have been doing their part to inform residents in their districts about the closures and come up with alternative solutions to keep commuters moving.
“For the MTA to cancel service and not provide any accommodations for the community is an injustice,” said Assemblymember William Colton back in January as he handed out petitions in front of the Kings Highway station alongside District Leader Nancy Tong. “We are asking the MTA to provide free shuttle buses to connect the stations at least. Hopefully, they will take into consideration our plan, which includes adding temporary platforms at the Avenue U, Kings Highway and 18th Avenue stations.”
The 28-month renovation will provide commuters with improved platforms and overpasses; new stairways and handrails; repairs to canopies and columns; painting and rehabilitation of historic head house station entrances and fare control areas; enhanced safety features; and upgraded communication systems, according to the MTA.
“The work is definitely necessary, I just wish the MTA knew how much of an inconvenience this is to so many people,” said Bensonhurst resident and daily N train rider Jane Laura. “It takes so much longer to get home and in this cold it’s truly awful.”
Tong shared a similar sentiment.
“Since the construction work started around a month ago, constituents have frequently come to the office and told me that there is no roof above the temporary platforms and that they have had extensive wait times at Coney Island,” explained Tong at a Thursday, February 11 rally–held in conjunction with Colton and Councilmember Mark Treyger–in front of the Kings Highway station. “These are issues that cannot remain unresolved. We will make sure to work until the community gets all the necessary accommodations in this matter.”
Another daily commuter, Dyker Heights resident Marie Grande, said that the frequency of service is more of an issue than the infrastructure.
“The floors of these trains better be made out of pure marble or diamonds with how long it is going to take them to do this work,” said Grande. “If they want to change something about the trains, they should change the amount of service they have and make the train come [more frequently] during rush hour.”
“It is outrageous for the MTA to fail in its duty to serve the people who ride and depend on the train service daily,” said Colton. “The fact that we have seniors standing in the cold waiting to first board a train, then having to wait over five to 10 minutes at Coney Island, adding half an hour to their commute, is unbelievable.
“This is a community issue that I will continue to work on,” he continued. “If we stand strongly together, we can resolve this issue to make sure Southern Brooklyn riders can get the services they deserve.”
While the backlash from commuters was expected, the MTA maintains that, along with the improvements to infrastructure, “once these renovations are complete, customers will be greeted by modern amenities including new lighting, Help Point Intercoms and station artwork that will greatly improve their trips along the Sea Beach Line,” said Wynton Habersham, acting senior vice president of the Department of Subways. “We appreciate our customers’ patience while we complete this important project, and regret the inconvenience this work may cause. In order to ensure that our customers are well-informed of these station closures and alternative travel options, notices will be posted in stations and on trains, and announcements will be made on all N trains.”