At 11pm on a Friday, most subway stations might look like ghost towns compared to the way they look during peak commuting hours. Bedford Ave. station in Brooklyn, however, is bustling, busy, and crowded. At some times, the platform is almost too packed for passengers to navigate in and out of the station.
“In the evenings, if there’s a train that’s just come, all the entrances and exits are blocked,” said Kristen Korcheck, a Manhattan resident who uses the L train on a daily basis to get to and from her job in Brooklyn. “It’s a pain in the ass, because you have to wait in line just to swipe your Metrocard to go wait some more on your train.”
NYU student and Willamsburg resident Alec Isaacs has also experienced packed trains. “It’s like riding an elevator at Tisch – it’s really cramped!”
While the higher demand for L trains in Brooklyn and Williamsburg can be attributed in part to the area’s rapid growth in recent years, the occurrence is becoming more and more common at many other stations along the L line, one of the fastest growing subway lines in New York City. 2012 MTA ridership numbers show that all but one station servicing the L train experienced growth compared to 2011’s numbers.
“We continue to see a steady increase in ridership, and we are looking at increasing service along the L corridor,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman, Ken Ortiz.
The MTA bumped up L train service just last summer when riders started to complain about consistently crowded trains that didn’t run often enough to get busy commuters to their final destinations. Now it seems it’s time to do so again.
“It’d be nice to have more regular service. I’ve had to wait 30 minutes for a train to go home after I got off work late,” Korcheck said of her late evening commute.
Elona Jones, a Brooklyn resident who rides the L train to commute to Manhattan, has also noticed less-than-desirable service at night.
“I think when it’s working, it’s a really good crosstown train during the day. However nighttime service makes it difficult,” Jones said. “I got on the L last night, and it lost signal on a train full of people. I don’t understand why that keeps happening.”
Ortiz said that while the increase in service is on the table, there’s not an exact timeline at this point, nor will there be any official announcements until the MTA has discussed the issue at its board meeting for which he could not provide a date. As soon as there is a decision made, Ortiz said a public announcement is “a safe assumption.”
Even without a well-defined timeline, L train riders are hoping for something to happen quickly.
“It’d be nice if they could clue us in a little more, but I understand the nature of the MTA in general,” Korcheck said. “I have friends who have lived in the city their whole lives and have heard about new service on this line or that line and get excited. But then nothing happens, so they tell me, ‘Don’t hold your breath.’”