L Train

Get Ready: No L Train Every Weekend in October

L-train

File this one under doomsday prep: as we announced previously, the MTA is shutting down the L train every single weekend in October between Eighth Avenue and Broadway Junction (the train will run between Broadway Junction and Canarsie). The severe pain-in-the-train begins on Friday nights at 11:30pm and lasts until 5am Monday morning. If you get desperate, there will be shuttle buses along the train line. Signs will be posted at affected stations and subway and bus routes, and NYC Transit staff will also be available at select stations to answer questions and provide information. Continue reading

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What You Need to Know about The Ride-Sharing Cap

Bedford L Station (photo: Julia Moak)

As the L-Pocalypse looms and the L train shuts down for 15 weekends starting this weekend, the City Council’s vote to put a cap on the number of ride-share cars is not welcome news to many in North Brooklyn. As local businesses already face the challenge of retaining customers over the course of the 15-month L Train Shutdown, we wonder how limiting the number of ride-share cars will affect local businesses and workers.

Over the years as the neighborhood’s population has exploded, North Brooklyn has seen a higher number of yellow cabs cruise through the neighborhood—and in fact, we house many of them here—but still nowhere near the number of yellow cabs you see on the streets of Manhattan. Before Uber and Lyft came to town, there were a handful of local car services like Northside, Java, or Metroline you’d call to get a ride somewhere, often paying a flat cash fee that included tip. And those drivers usually knew the best back streets to take to get you to JFK in about half an hour.

Uber & Lyft via Unsplash
photo illustration via Unsplash

These days, getting a cab is as easy as pressing a few buttons on your phone without having to wait on hold or talk to anyone or give your credit card info—and in North Brooklyn, a 1-minute or less wait for an Uber or Lyft (or Juno, or Via) is common. But often, drivers of ride-share vehicles are not local to your neighborhood and are blindly following robotic-voiced directions on their phones. (Ed note: Northside and Metroline have their own apps, and you can book online with Java).

New York City currently has more than 100k ride-share vehicles on the streets, compared with less than 15k yellow cabs. Six yellow cab drivers have committed suicide in the last few years—depressed and traumatized about not being able to pay their bills—while Uber and Lyft drivers of all ages, races and backgrounds have raked in some extra side hustle cash.

The suicides, combined with general concern about traffic congestion and lack of regulation prompted the city to do something about this rapid explosion of vehicles on our streets that have very visibly threatened the livelihoods of thousands of Yellow Cab drivers—who are still iconic of New York City. Two months ago almost 150 taxi medallions hit the bankruptcy auction block. According to Curbed, “In 2013, a medallion was worth as much as $1.3 million, however, competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft has driven medallion prices down to as low as $160,000.” According to the Post, earnings for Yellow Cab drivers have plummeted to $29k per year by some estimates.

The legislation passed on Wednesday will require ride-share companies to purchase a for-hire vehicle license (or face a $10k penalty) currently set at $275 per car, exempting wheelchair accessible vehicles from a fee, and requires the TLC to set a minimum wage for ride-share drivers. And, of course, the cap. The law also says that no new licenses (except for accessible vehicles) will be given out for one year, while the TLC conducts a transportation study. New York is the first major city to impose a limit on the number of ride-share vehicles. In response, Uber says it’s planning to recruit the tens of thousands of drivers who already own a valid for-hire-vehicle license. The company, currently the highest valued startup at $68 billion, was a staunch opponent of the bill, launching an ad campaign to drum up support against it.

A 2018 TLC study found that setting a minimum wage for ride-share drivers to $17.22 per hour would increase driver net pay by 22.5%. And by instituting a minimum wage for drivers, Uber and Lyft would take less of a cut. It would, “…substantially reduce growth in the number of new drivers and vehicles and provide some indirect benefits for medallion drivers.” According to Mashable, “Lyft said it supports a livable wage for its drivers and is already paying close to the $17.22 minimum hourly rate (after expenses) to its drivers.”

It’s a fact that more ride-hailing apps means more cars on the streets, which in turn creates more traffic and congestion. City bus routes are affected (if you ride the B62 you know this is true), and of course first responders and emergency service workers can be delayed too. Jon Orcutt, the director of communications and advocacy at TransitCenter, says we are currently in “our worst transportation crisis in decades.”

L Train Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram
Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram

Of course, all of this is happening above ground and that’s not the only way New Yorkers travel. In April of 2019 the L Train will shut down for repairs for 15 months, forcing thousands of Brooklynites to find a different way to get into Manhattan. The MTA’s plans have been heavily criticized, with many arguing that they have only accounted for a fraction of workers who will need to get into the city every day. The Village Voice calls it a “recipe for gridlock.” Some North Brooklyn lifers shrug their shoulders while they wait for rents to drop and café crowds to thin out.

The full magnitude of the L-pocalypse and the effect on our daily commutes to Manhattan remains to be seen. We do know, however, that it’s going to be epic. The shutdown will have its own documentary, already has a news series on Vice, and has been making national news. And there have been plenty of crazy-not-so-crazy alternatives to the subway proposed.

Local business owners are none too happy about the shutdown either, knowing that without the daily influx of tourists coming into the neighborhood and with some residents moving out of the neighborhood entirely, their business will drop. Maybe even to 2008 levels. With a ride-share cap in addition to the shutdown, many businesses who rely on people from outside the neighborhood—restaurants, entertainment venues, retail establishments—will certainly feel a pinch. But others ask, is the idea of less people coming into the neighborhood really a bad thing? Isn’t the neighborhood overcrowded as it is? It’s a complicated issue.

Greenpointers, we want to know how the ride-share cap and the shutdown will affect you. Are you a business owner or a Lyft driver? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

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L-Pocalypse Pre-Show Countdown: L to close for 15 weekends prior to “official” shutdown

How is this weekend like Christmas? No L!

In fact, the MTA announced on Saturday, The L train will not run between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 weekends between now and April, when the agency plans to usher in L-pocalypse.

While North Brooklyn has been aware of, and preparing for, April’s planed 15-month suspension of service through the Canarsie Tunnel with a litany of enterprising, madcap solutions, commuters were entirely unaware of the MTA’s pre-show closure countdown.

Now, purveyors of L-ternatives will have to fire up their tanks earlier than expected, because the first of the 15 weekend closures will take place this weekend (from 11:30pm Friday, August 10 – 5am Monday, August 13th). 

The other 14 weekend closures will take place throughout October, November, February, March and April.

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Thursday Spotlight: Tony Falcone Captures Portraits of L Train Commuters in the Face of Change

Photo by Tony Falcone

The L Train is closing, this we know. Brooklynites will relocate, biking will increase, businesses may shut down. It’s a great deal of change in an ever-changing borough, and no medium captures this evolution as well as photography.

Enter local artist Tony Falcone, whose portraits of neighbors and commuters will soon be relics of an L Train past. His simple and stirring photos depict people going about their lives — lives that soon will face fierce readjustment and perhaps unwelcome change. We caught up with Tony — a celebrated street photographer — to discuss his experiences and method in capturing his subjects, and a changing neighborhood.

Greenpointers: What inspired you to capture these portraits on the L?

Tony Falcone: It is a current issue that affects lots of people and businesses who had moved to neighborhoods near the L line because of the quick and easy commute to Manhattan. The L Train is a big reason why neighborhoods like Williamsburg grew to what they are now. Continue reading

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L Train Shutdown Meeting This Wednesday! (5/16)

L train shutdown meeting flyer

This Wednesday evening, May 16th from 6:30-8:30pm the MTA and NYC DOT are hosting a town hall to discuss L-Train shutdown plans and the impact that the closure will have on our commutes and local businesses. Part of the plan includes increasing the number of cars on the ever-short G Train (it’s about time!), increasing ferry service, adding a few hundred buses to traverse the Williamsburg Bridge, and expanding bicycle access. Wednesday’s meeting will be held at Progress High School (850 Grand Street at Bushwick Ave).

More info can be found on the L Train Coalition’s site.

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Small Biz Owners: What You Should Know About Commercial Leases, Workshop (4/25)

As a North Brooklyn resident you probably feel like you’re doomsday prepping for the impending L-Train Shutdown—and let’s not forget that local business owners are, too. No one is quite sure how much the clusterf-k of reduced transit options for more than a year will affect small businesses, but the general consensus is that it’s not gonna be pretty. On one hand we will have less tourists and foot traffic in the neighborhood (which many of us are rejoicing about), but on the other hand those people will not be patronizing local businesses.

The city is offering a workshop for small business owners, Signing A Commercial Lease: What You Need To Know on Wednesday, April 25th from 5-6:30pm at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center (211 Ainslie Street). The workshop is free, and lawyers will explain helpful tips on preparing to negotiate a fair commercial lease. More info and registration on Eventbrite. The workshop is part of NYC Small Business Services course series.

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Dogs, Dreams, Data and Design — The Hook-up (4/13)

Greenpoint is on Track this week
Greenpoint is on Track this week! via wired

It’s gorgeous out, Greenpoint! And that’s not the only reason to celebrate. This week started out with some sweet news. On Monday, an MTA subway track inspector rescued that had wandered into the L tunnel. The hero, Edlin Cruz, caught up with the dog at Graham Avenue.

In other L-train news, Wired took a look at “The Dreamers of the L-Train Shutdown,” noting how the impending L-pocalypse has really spurred some quixotic creativity in New York, inspiring such proposals as gondolas, pontoon bridges, and inflatable bridges.

Meanwhile, the Village Voice asked, “Is the Rest of the Subway Ready for the L-Train Shutdown?” focusing on the impact that service changes will have on our beloved G train. For example, “No station illustrates the scale of the challenge, or raises questions about whether the MTA is doing enough to mitigate the impact of its own planned work, better than Court Square in Long Island City, where internal MTA documents warn that corridors could be “crush-loaded” once erstwhile L riders crowd onto the G.” Get ready for the crush, Greenpoint.  Continue reading

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Best Dressed Awards, New Elevators at Greenpoint Ave Station + More Notes From Last Night’s CB1 Meeting

Dealice Fuller at the Community Board 1 meeting, March 13, 2018
Dealice Fuller (Chairperson) and Simon Weiser (First Vice Chair) at the Community Board 1 meeting, March 13, 2018.

It’s a frigid Tuesday night in March, currently breezy, but there was a Nor’easter in the morning. The day and the commute hasn’t been easy. You probably feel like parking yourself on the couch, ordering a giant pizza and throwing back a few glasses of red wine. Well, a handful of Greenpointers staff did just that AND we watched the livestream of tonight’s Community Board 1 meeting. Every month, the CB1 meeting livestreams on YouTube via PBS Thirteen, and if you’re a little late or you miss it entirely you can watch it after the fact, from your damn couch. Our neighborhood is one of the lucky ones around town—not all Community Board meetings get the YouTube treatment. We’ve written before about how entertaining the meetings are—if the idea of a “real life episode of Parks & Rec” doesn’t hook you, then check out the cast of local characters and issues below. Continue reading

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Before L-pocalypse: A History of Transit in North BK

B.R.C.C. Crosstown Trolley, Via the Transit Museum
B.C.R.R. Crosstown Trolley, Via the New York Transit Museum

As the MTA’s planned 15-month suspension of L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan draws near, all 200,000 daily riders of the L-pocalypse have been asking the same question: how will we get across the river? Brooklynites have been asking that question for generations, and personal ingenuity, along with municipal planning, has yielded several answers. All we can say for sure is that this is not the first time aggrieved Greenpointers have been up in arms over inadequate inter-borough transit. I’m just glad we don’t have to take a rowboat.

The rowboat commute was the first in a line increasingly efficient methods of getting from Greenpoint to Manhattan that includes horsecars, trollies, ferry services, elevated trains, and the dawn and growth of the subway. Step in, stand clear and read on for a history of transit in North Brooklyn.   Continue reading

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Newtown Creek Flows all the way to Utah — The Hook-up (2/8)

Newtown Creek: The Art of Toxic Tides via Slug Magazine

The mighty waters of Newtown Creek will be in fine form this weekend, as lovebirds and sewage nerds turn out for Saturday’s tours of The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, but this week, they’ve taken the spotlight as far away as Utah.

While Utah might have the Great Salt Lake, but artist Kelly Larsen found his muse in Greenpoint, affixing a 9-foot canvas to the wall of the creek to record the ebb and flow of toxic tides.  Continue reading

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