New York City Subway Faces Its Biggest Service Disruption in History

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

New York City’s subway system has been through a lot: it’s survived massive blizzards and fictional attacks from Godzilla. But now, it looks like time is finally catching up with the city’s beloved, 100-year-old transportation system.

New York City will be shutting down the tunnels that host the L train, one of its most crowded subway lines, for at least 18 months, creating what officials are calling “one of the biggest disruptions” to the transit system in history. Today, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) laid out its timeline to fix the two tunnels stretching from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The agency said that the repair work could last anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. That means the 300,000 people riding the train every single day will be losing a primary mode of transportation. Repairs are scheduled to begin in January 2019.

The MTA has kept its repair plans under wraps for months, leaving straphangers serviced by the L train anxious about their future commutes. It’s still unclear how the city will service the hundreds of thousands of people that ride the train every day. “MTA is now starting the process of fully developing alternative service plans and will continue to work with the community,” the agency said in a statement.


The tunnel has reportedly needed repairs since being walloped by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The L train’s underground tunnels running through the East River to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn is still filled with corrosive salt water and desperately needs repair. In other words, the drastic measures taken by the MTA cannot be avoided.

Reports indicate that the impending L train shutdown may already be having a negative effect on the price of real estate in Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhood, Williamsburg. A DNAinfo report indicates that the average sale price of a Williamsburg condo dropped 13 percent in one hundred and twenty condos sold between April and June. The decrease in price cuts against trends seen citywide, where condo prices continued to climb more than 20 percent.

According to a New York Daily News report, the MTA will repair 56 miles of power, communication, and signal cables, about 3 miles of track and a water pump room in order to fully repair the L train—and it’s not the only one. The tunnel system that hosts the L train is just one of nine underwater tunnels that requires significant repair because of Hurricane Sandy. So if you think your commute won’t be disrupted—think again.

Technology editor at Gizmodo.

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Untrue. The MTA floated two options to the public several months ago, and the 18 month option is the one supported by 77% of straphangers.

Also untrue. The single track closure was the 3 year option, whereas they went with the 18 month entire tunnel closure, based upon public consensus.