Subway ridership in New York City decreased for the first time in five years in 2016, ostensibly owing to maintenance-related service changes, the emergence of Citi Bike, and the rise of ride-share apps. But despite the slight decline in ridership, millions of New Yorkers still rely on the subway to get them where they need to go. It’s one of the reasons the so-called L-pocalypse is so dreaded. CityLab notes that 250,000 riders will be impacted daily when the L train closes for 18 months, starting in 2019, for Sandy-related repairs.
Hysteria surrounding the long-term service disruption has already begun to set in, with ideas about transportation alternatives—from Select Bus Service to rerouting existing train lines—emerging left and right. But up until now, a reliable look at just how the L train shutdown will affect commutes has been elusive. Enter Sidewalk Labs, the Google—sorry, Alphabet—subsidiary devoted to advancing urbanism through technology.
Sidewalk Labs has teamed up with Transportation Alternatives to create a map that visualizes how commutes will likely be affected by the L train shutdown. (It also displays current commute information, but that’s so much less exciting.) The map, called NYC Transit Explorer, pulls from existing feeds about the status of different transit options to determine travel times and routes throughout the city. Sidewalk Labs explains:
Users can explore accessibility from a given origin based on a range of variables, including departure time, max walking distance, and transfer and mode preference. You can also compare accessibility from two different points (especially useful if you’re planning to move and deciding between two neighborhoods), or from the same point with different settings. Inspired by TransAlt’s request, you can see what happens in a world without L train stops in Manhattan. You can also see how access improved with the opening of the Second Avenue subway.
NYC Transit Explorer uses a drag-and-drop tool for start and end points, as well as a color-coordinated system that depicts about how long commutes will take. It makes visualizing getting around, with or without the L train, a breeze.
Check out an explainer video below, and find the map here.
- NYC Transit Explorer [official]
- New map demo: How the L train shutdown will impact your commute [Sidewalk Labs via Medium]
- All L train shutdown coverage [Curbed]