Earlier this week I posted briefly about a tragic weekend for straphangers (subway riders.) Four people were killed in transit related deaths. I’m following up here with a brief mention (rant) about the L train, my current commuting aide and bane of my existence. The L train runs from Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, Brooklyn to 8th avenue in Manhattan. When I say runs, I mean limps along like a roving infant blind black bear with its right hind paw ensnared in a hunter’s trap. Needless to say, the L train can be a difficult commute, but for full disclosure it is convenient — the schedule runs frequently enough during normal hours that I’m never waiting long.
The worst part of it, though, is the crowds, especially at peak hours. The Times reported in October that on average weekday commutes, the train operated at 116% or more of its maximum occupancy per car. That’s a lot of people. It described weekends even worse, reaching numbers as high as 130% of the maximum. The MTA has promised more trains running more frequently, but I’ve noticed little effect so far. They plan on rolling out more weekend trains starting summer 2012, but that won’t help my commute.
The other largest problem; when the L train shuts down, denizens (hipsters) of Brooklyn and myself are basically shit out of luck. There’s no other trains servicing our tract of north Brooklyn, except maybe a JMZ, but that’s uncharted territory. And the worst of the matter, this abomination of steel and metal decides to often shut down for a whole stretch of the weekend. This is the equivalent of being marooned on a dessert island, provided that island was populated by dirty tattooed twenty-somethings, great brunch spots and cheap bars. Maybe the marooned part isn’t terrible, just inconvenient.
For reference on the regularity of the L train’s sucking, there’s a single served site declaring simply whether the L train is fucked or not. Appropriately labeled, istheltrainfucked.com. The regularity of “YUP” is discerning.
Allegedly, the MTA is installing new computer equipment to improve the switches, thus allowing an increase in the amount of trains running the tracks at one time. But I’m afraid this is only going to add more “delays due to train traffic,” one of the most common and annoying messages you will ever hear your train driver utter. The fact of the matter is, Brooklyn is growing in population at an extremely high rate, ridership on the L train has increased more than three times the growth of the subway system as a whole.
I’ve heard rumors about a ferry leaving from the Williamsburg Waterfront and docking somewhere around 23rd avenue on the east side, perhaps I can grab a seat there next time.