NEW YORK - The long-dreaded repairs to the L line are about to begin this Friday, and inside the MTA, transit planners are predicting misery for riders.
Agency sources tell NY1 the decision to maintain limited service while the repairs take place is expected to result in packed trains and platforms at night and on weekends because riders will have to wait as much as five times longer for trains as they do now.
Planning officials anticipate the long waits could even create lines just to get into some stations.
Some riders are fearful about the disruptions when the work begins Friday night.
"Honestly, I need a reliable train. I'll probably just avoid it altogether," one rider said.
An L train commuter wished the MTA stuck to its original plan to close the L line's Canarsie tunnel.
"The whole thing's a mess, they should just shut it down and fix it," he said.
The MTA planned to shut the L line from Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn to Manhattan for 15 months to fix both tubes of the line’s East River tunnel.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo pressured the MTA to adopt a more modest repair plan that will limit construction to nights and weekends, but require closing only one tube at a time.
Under the new plan, the MTA will begin scaling back service at 8 p.m. on weeknights.
By 10 p.m., service between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Lorimer Street in Brooklyn will run every 20 minutes, instead of about every four to five minutes now.
There will be 20-minute waits all weekend as well.
"I'm going to try to ride it, see how it works out, but eventually I might have to take a cab, take a different train," a Brooklyn commuter said. "But it's going to affect in many ways."
To reduce the possibility of overcrowding, MTA personnel have been in the affected stations to warn commuters about the changes and to consider riding other lines to get around.
The MTA is adding bus service in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to enable L train riders to take the G, J or M lines instead.
It's also adding buses in Manhattan along 14th Street, offering riders who normally use the L train a link too the F, J and M lines.
"Look at the map, look at where the M goes, look at where the G goes, look where the number seven goes. We're adding service to those lines,"
Ronnie Hakim, managing director of the MTA, said. "We want to make sure that customers use alternate service."
The MTA says hundreds of trained staffers will be out at stations to direct riders to other lines and manage crowds so trains stay on schedule.