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New City Council legislation may make L train shutdown less painful

The legislation passed today calls for e-buses, information centers for the shutdown in both boroughs, and more

The New York City Council passed legislation earlier today that will look to make the impending L train shutdown a little less painful for commuters. The Council voted to approve two bills and one resolution for the course of the 15-month shutdown, which is scheduled to get underway in April 2019.

The first of the bills, Intro-0989, will create community information centers in Brooklyn and Manhattan. These centers will provide resources and information to commuters about the reconstruction inside the Canarsie Tunnel. The bill calls on the Department of Transportation to work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to ensure these centers are created before the shutdown goes into effect next year.

Intro-0990 calls on the DOT Commissioner to designate an ombudsperson who will receive and investigate complaints in connection with the Canarsie Tunnel closure. These complaints could relate to all sorts of difficulties commuters might face in regards to buses or others modes of transport the city has presented as alternatives during the shutdown. Both these bills were put forth by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“New Yorkers on both sides of the East River are getting more and more anxious about what some are calling the L-pocalypse,” said Johnson, in a statement. “There will be significant disruption to straphangers and to residents. That is my primary concern – mitigating the pain for these subway and bus riders, pedestrians, cyclists and neighborhood residents.”

Finally, Resolution 377, which was sponsored by City Council member Rafael Espinal, calls on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA to expeditiously move to an electric bus fleet for the city, particularly during the L train shutdown.

“The additional 200 diesel buses that are going to be added to our streets will release as much pollution as 4,400 cars per day,” said Espinal, in a statement, referring to the buses that will shuttle commuters between the two boroughs during the shutdown. “This can’t be the standard for how we move forward. This resolution sends a clear message that our innovative City will use transit obstacles like the L train shutdown as transit opportunities.”

So far, the MTA has only committed to testing out 10 e-buses as part of a three-year pilot program, with the potential of adding 60 more such buses in the coming years. This bill will seek to speed up that process. Both bills, and the resolution received unanimous approval in the City Council.