Ahead of a public meeting Wednesday, frustrated commuters rallied and slammed the MTA's plan for alternative service options for next year's L train shutdown.
Riders could only provide written comments at the informational session on the L train shutdown, but a group of residents and transportation advocates voiced their frustration beforehand.
Many are highly concerned about the alternative bus plan for 14th St. "Businesses on 14th St. say to me, 'Wait a minute, the bus lane is only going to start at 3rd Ave.? But I'm here at 2nd Ave. What about me? What about us? We're going to have gridlock up until 3rd Ave.? That's not right," said resident Kate Birmingham. "Or people say, 'What do you mean it's only going to be two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon? That's not OK!'"
Starting in April 2019, the Canarsie Tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn will close for 15 months of repairs that stem from flooding damage from Hurricane Sandy.
That means L train service will be suspended between 8th Ave. and 14th St. in Chelsea and Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn.
To make up for that, service will be beefed up on the G, J, M, and Z lines. Additional ferry and bus service will also be added.
Transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives issued a report ahead of the meeting, pointing to what the group sees as flaws in the plan for the busy corridor. They called for bus stop improvements, an efficient payment system, or no fare at all.
"We think the MTA should take a hard look at making the M14 prioritize bus free and all the shuttle bus free. Look at what they do now: Whenever a subway goes out of service, bus shuttles are free," Paul Steely White, the executive director of the group, said at the rally.
But Andy Byford, the new president of New York City Transit, urged caution about such a plan.
"That is an option, I guess, but we want to do this calmly, we want to consider all of the implications," Byford told NY1. "One of the downsides of making it free is that you would then see many more people gravitate towards that bus and you may end up with an unintended consequence."
City and state representatives at the meeting said they are considering all the input they receive.
The MTA is scheduled to meet with the public twice more in February.