Little pink posters follow me everywhere. They’re signaling the start of the shutdown of the L train. Late in April, Governor Cuomo’s plan went into effect and the L train started running between Brooklyn and Manhattan every twenty minutes during late nights and weekends. My morning and evening rides go smoothly, save for the usual rush hour traffic and passengers jostling each other in a fight to get the nearest seat. By day the train is tolerable, running on the same schedule as normal, no more than five or six minutes apart. Nothing has changed, going and coming home from Manhattan is the same—save for the posters and the near-constant intercom announcements reminding commuters about the L train’s weekend service.
The switch from the daily service to nights and weekends has been less inconvenient than some were anticipating, including me. Instead a majority of passengers have swapped over to other lines or other methods of transportation, as I have. On weekends the M train becomes my line, with trains running every three to six minutes into Manhattan. The walk is long, the ride longer. But this problem is diminished greatly by only occurring during nights and weekends, an improvement over the MTA’s initial plan to completely shut down the line.
Cuomo’s plan still has its share of detractors, from off-hour commuters to MTA employees. Transit workers have been posting themselves outside the Bedford Avenue station handing out flyers that point out their concerns over working conditions inside the tunnel.
It’s a late Saturday afternoon in the 14th Street station and a heavy bag digs into my shoulder. I glance up at the board, showing an ominous “Delay” as the M train’s next arrival time. The L train is down a flight of stairs, with an actual arrival time instead of the ever-increasing countdown to the next M train. I descend the stairs. A few bored-looking passengers linger around the Brooklyn-bound side of the station. The steps are empty, so I set my bag down and wait. The train does come eventually, much less crowded than I would have expected. I grab a seat and wait. The speakers belt out what we all already know, how the L train is running on reduced service between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Eventually the door closes, and we hurtle through the Canarsie line’s East River tunnel. It smells of fiberglass and burning plastic. We make it through the tunnel and come to our stop in the Bedford Avenue station. Groups of MTA employees in orange vests hang around the platform, handing out flyers to passersby and answer questions they may have. The subway door closes and we’re on our way again. The rest of the ride is smooth, and I leave the train at my stop. Shouldering my bag, I climb the stairs and out into the orange glow of the late afternoon. Beneath my feet I feel the rumble of the L train as it howls towards its next stop.