Local Leaders Call For MTA Transparency Ahead Of L Train Vote

January 06, 2019 - 2:46 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Officials at the city, state, and federal level are looking for answers following a big change in plans for the L train shutdown.

There are a lot of questions on the mind of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, but maybe the biggest one is: “How did we get here?”

“There seems to be a foreign language with the MTA,” Adams said as he called for full transparency on the L train shutdown.

Adams joined other leaders Sunday to call for the MTA to be more transparent about its L train proposals before an MTA board vote on proposed changes to the shutdown plan.

“This can’t be just simply a Powerpoint, where we throw in a few graphs and numbers on the screen,” Adams said. “We need real communications on the ground.”

People changed jobs or moved apartments and businesses closed ahead of the so-called “L-pocalypse.”

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Now it’s unclear if the mitigation efforts are still going forward, including more bike lanes, more ferries and the 14th Street “busway.”  

For now the new plan is to run trains every 20 minutes during nights and weekends while work is done.

Andrew Albert, of the Transit Riders Council, says that frequency will lead to “bedlam.”

“Anybody that rides the L train knows you've got rush hour crowds at 11 and 12 at night,” Albert said.

Albert also wonders what this means for the many more projects the MTA has in the pipeline.

“If a contract with a contractor can be just done away with a month or two before the project's due to begin, will anyone ever want to do another contract with the MTA?” Albert said.

Three years were spent planning for a full L train shutdown only to see those plans changed in three weeks.

“Yes, we’ve learned a lot, but boy do we have a lot of questions,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said.

Brewer says she learned about the L train shutdown plans like everyone else – at the last minute.

“To regain straphangers' and residents' confidence in the MTA plans and in the way these decisions are being made, an unprecedented public engagement is necessary,” she said.

City Council Member Carlina Rivera says there are also other long-term concerns.

“Now it’s become a public trust issue and how this lack of transparency erodes public trust in government,” Rivera said.

She says the MTA shouldn’t need any more time to answer these questions.

“We’ve given you years. People have moved. They’ve sacrificed,” she said.

The MTA has planned four public outreach meetings on the new plan and City Council members say they want to hold a hearing.

After touring the Canarsie Tunnel with a group of engineers in December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday a new plan to fix the damaged infrastructure and keep the trains running at the same time.

Instead of knocking out the walls of the infrastructure to replace damaged wires, the new plan would run wiring, protected by special jackets, along the inside of tunnel.

The MTA board still needs to vote to approve the plan, but Cuomo said he is calling on the agency to hold an emergency meeting to support his option or the 15-month shutdown.