Trainless Brooklyn: Williamsburg and Greenpoint stew as the M.T.A. turns to the G and L

The B62 bus. (bitch cakes via Flickr)
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Relative to residents of Staten Island and the Rockaways, people living in Williamsburg and Greenpoint emerged from Hurricane Sandy largely unscathed.

The problem is they can't go anywhere without some effort, and their patience with the M.T.A.'s widely lauded transit-recovery efforts is growing thin.

"My phones have begun to overheat from calls this morning regarding the G-line being the only line still completely suspended and the limited service on the L-line," wrote Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, in an email blast. "I have called upon Chairman Lhota to institute emergency shuttle buses that can transport residents to those lines currently operating. I urge the MTA to institute these shuttle buses immediately along both the G train and L train line so residents of North Brooklyn may access other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. I also insist the MTA add more buses to the current routes within North Brooklyn – B24, B43 and B62 – which have been severely overcrowded causing riders to wait over two hours for the bus."

Unlike residents in other heavily gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and Greenpoint remain largely cut off from Manhattan by train.

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The city has already drained the tunnels through which the 2,3,4,5 trains travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan, but the L train tunnel remains flooded wall-to-wall, track bed-to-ceiling.

The G train tunnel is also flooded, in its case with water from the notoriously polluted Newtown Creek, which may or may not contain chemicals that pose an even greater threat than saltwater to M.T.A. hardware.

"Water that has sloshed in by way of Newtown Creek is obviously going to be more of concern," said Adam Lisberg, the M.T.A.'s spokesman, adding, "The signal damage in the G tunnel, I'm told, is very severe."

Lisberg says that resurrecting the L and G trains are now the M.T.A.'s "highest priority."

But it's hardly any mystery why those trains weren't M.T.A. priorities from the beginning: fewer people rely on them than on other lines.

According to M.T.A. figures, the G has, on average, 125,000 weekday riders and the L has 300,000. The 6 train, by contrast, has 750,000, and the F train has 625,000.

The M.T.A. is not putting any estimates out for how long repairs will take, because the damage levels are still unknown, but North Brooklynites can take comfort in two recent developments: The J and M trains are running over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan, and the M.T.A, having heard rider complaints from this morning, has added extra buses to the B62 line.

"We recognize that this really is an inconvenience," Lisberg said.