The L Train Shut Down: A Negative for Commuters but a Positive for NYC Real Estate?

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy flooded much of New York’s subway system. Now, a 15-month shutdown to repair a major tunnel could lead to lasting, positive changes. VICTOR J. BLUE/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

(New York, NY) — While most will be looking forward to a new year, for the 400,000 daily L train riders 2019 will be far from easy.

In April 2019, the L train in NYC will be suspended for 15 months in order to repair damages to the Canarsie tunnel caused by Hurricane Sandy.

That’s right, for over a year commuters who are reliant on the L train will have to resort to other means of transportation.

However, with 7,100 feet worth of damaged signals, broken cable ducts, failing switches, and shattered lights the tunnel is more of a detriment to commuters being opened than it is being closed.

So, what does this mean for L train riders?

One word, creativity.

Commuters will have to find new ways to get to their destination, a stroke of bad luck for some New Yorkers. However,The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) isn’t going to leave their commuters without any options.

The MTA and Department of Transportation (DOT) will increase the services on the J, M, and Z train lines.

The NYC ferry is also an option, stopping at Greenpoint Terminal, S10th and N5th street in Williamsburg, and Wall Street/Pier 11. With the same fare as one subway ride, the ferry is a potential second choice for L train riders. However, if you don’t live by the ferry or if your destination is not near the ferry terminal, you can expect to pack on a few extra subway rides to your traveling time.

The 7 train can work for commuters with destinations in the Midtown area and/or Queens. Still, this solution is far from great and has left local 7 train riders far from thrilled. The 7 train is already crowded, and the potential of more passengers seems unbearable.

7 Train to Flushing Main Street from downtown Manhattan approaches Queensboro Plaza station.

“During peak hours, the 7 train is at or above capacity, as are the E, M, and R lines, especially when there are catastrophic problems on the 7,” said Brandon W. Moley, administrator of popular 7 Line Facebook support group, and senior director of Access Queens.

There is talk of a new series of over 200-diesel-fueled buses, but L train riders shouldn’t hold their breath. With the overabundant smoke from the fossil fuels that will leak into the air, environmentally focused lawmakers are taking a firm stance against it.

How will the L train shutdown affect real estate along the line?

While some real estate reports expressed worry that the suspension of the line would cause a drop in the property value in Williamsburg, The 2017 market showed that it still stands as a favorite for young adults.

Despite its popularity, Williamsburg can be looking at a decline in residency. The L train suspension has resulted in real estate agents expanding their buyers/renters beyond Williamsburg.

Rendering of Jackson Park Rental Complex in Long Island City. Courtesy of Tishman Speyer

With real estate agents pointing their customers to South Williamsburg, Flatbush, Astoria and other Queens neighborhoods, the shutdown may help other neighborhoods thrive.

An affect on small businesses?

Yes, small businesses reliant on L train commuters and Williamsburg residents might be in trouble.

With such rapid real estate turnover rates in Williamsburg and the East Village, 15 months of slow business can be enough to make many small business owners close shop.

The L-Train Coalition—a group made up of local commuters, business owners, and stakeholders— released a survey to estimate the impact the train shutdown will have on small businesses. Andrew Hoan, CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, stated that more than 40% of the businesses surveyed can be expected to lose up to half of their current business.

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