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L Train Shutdown: More Citi Bikes, 80 Buses/Hour On Williamsburg Bridge

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Press conference on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge, May 27. Photo: NYC DOT Twitter.
Press conference on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge, May 27. Photo: NYC DOT Twitter.

There was news on a couple of different fronts yesterday regarding next year’s dreaded closure of the L Train.

City transportation officials and reps from Citi Bike gathered on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge to announce an expansion of Citi Bike to accommodate stranded train commuters. Beginning next spring (when the L Train tunnel closes), 1,250 bikes and 2500 docking points will be added in key locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Right now, about 7,500 bicyclists use the Williamsburg Bridge daily. That number is expected to rise dramatically during the 15-month shutdown. The city is already planning to add a protected bike lane on Delancey Street. According to a press release from the mayor’s office:

The process of providing denser coverage is known as “infill,” and will involve both new docking stations and enlarging current stations.  DOT and Citi Bike will coordinate a robust community engagement process. working closely with local elected officials, community groups as well as the affected community boards – Brooklyn Community Board 1 and Manhattan Community Boards 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

williamsburg bridge

Motivate, the firm that operates Citi Bike also plans to add more valet stations, which are used to move bikes around to locations where they’re most needed during peak commute times:

In anticipation of the L train disruption, Citi Bike expects to add as many as ten new valet stations, located in areas heavily affected by the L train disruption, including Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, along the 14th Street corridor and adjacent to East River ferry stops in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Finally, Citi Bike will implement what it calls “shuttle service” on the Williamsburg Bridge, adding hundreds of pedal-assisted bikes to help riders get over the bridge more easily. More from the press release:

Citi Bike announced that it would add a temporary, additional 1,000 pedal-assist bicycle “Shuttle Service” to its fleet during the L train closure, which would designate four conveniently-located pedal-assist docking stations — two in Williamsburg and two in lower Manhattan for their exclusive use.  “Shuttle Service” bicycles could only be rented and returned to these stations.

Local Council member Carlina Rivera at yesterday's hearing. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council.
Local Council member Carlina Rivera at yesterday’s hearing. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council.

Officials with the city’s Department of Transportation and the MTA talked about their plans for the L Train shutdown at a City Council hearing yesterday. MTA Transit President Andy Byford said 80 buses an hour would be needed to shuttle L Train commuters during peak times (officials previously estimated 70 buses an hour would be sent over the Williamsburg Bridge). AM New York reported:

While 70 percent of commuters are expected to shift to nearby subway lines during the shutdown, the MTA and DOT have focused heavily on creating new “L-Alternative” bus routes to supplement service. “Buses will be an important piece of the puzzle,” (DOT Commissioner Polly) Trottenberg said. The bus network will be made up of four “short, intense routes” that can quickly recycle, optimizing the number of trips per bus, according to Byford. The four L-Alternative routes, which are expected to carry 17 percent of L train riders…”

Officials are planning on moving 30,000+ people over the bridge via bus each day. During non-peak hours, the MTA anticipates deploying 26 buses per hour in the afternoon and 38 buses per hour at night. The bridge will be restricted to buses, trucks and HOV-3 vehicles. DOT plans to install bus-only lanes on Delancey Street and Allen Street.

Traffic on streets near the bus routes will be patrolled by a dedicated force of 102 NYPD traffic enforcement agents and 46 police officers.

For more info on the L Train shutdown here.


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