L-train ridership soars, and the M.T.A. responds

Straphangers crowd a Williamsburg L-train platform. (kellan via Flickr)
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Starting Sunday, the M.T.A. will run more frequent trains along the L line, the 14th Street line that runs through Williamsburg and has become notorious for its Tokyo-style, full-body-contact crowding.

On Sundays starting June 10, there will be seven more round-trip trains. The M.T.A. plans to run 16 more on weekdays (off peak and on peak), and 11 more on Saturdays.

This is something that's been in the works for a while now.

In October, the M.T.A. announced it would begin the new service in the middle of 2012, after it finished updating the line's signaling system.

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According to today's AM New York, which got the story first:

The MTA has struggled to meet its own guidelines for how many riders should be on each train. The "maximum load" for its eight-car trains is supposed to be 1,160 on weekdays and 430 people on weekends.

But rush-hour trains during the week have been above capacity nearly every year since 1998, agency documents show. With the extra trains, weekday rush-hour service will go from 110% capacity to 98%. On weekday nights, the added service is still expected to leave trains over capacity.

"It's not a silver bullet," state senator Daniel Squadron, who lobbied hard for the new service, told Capital. "It's a big improvement."

The L train has grown more and more crowded over the past decade, thanks in good part to the rise of Williamsburg as a residential neighborhood and weekend destination.

That growth is unlikely to slow down anytime seen.

"The M.T.A. deserves real credit for responding to the communtiy and to my office and increasing service around the need, not around an old set of assumptions," said Squadron. "The truth is we're going to need more of that over time. And that takes resources. We're also going to need better G-train service, better bus service, and increasingly we're going to rely on ferries as well."