The L is not Future Proof

Published on: November 11th, 2015 Written by:


The L train was not designed for the future.

Many years ago, a guy was talking about buying a home along the L train. I gave him straight talk: The L line is a 2 track route that, despite the CBTC installation, will always be handicapped by being a 2 track route. The L is one of the only subway routes in NYC that is almost entirely 2 tracks for its entire length. If a train or signals breaks down or a passenger gets sick or jumps in front of a train at rush hour, or work needs to be done, service will be suspended. You will then be land locked in neighborhoods with few other viable, weatherproof, speedy transportation alternatives.

Our potential home buyer saw the obvious wisdom in these words, and bought his house in a neighborhood with more robust transit infrastructure.

There are only 2 segments of the L train that contain 3 tracks – and in both cases, the extra track is only used for ‘laying up’ (parking) a train. Most of the time these tracks are kept clear, so they can be used in case of emergency (moving a disabled train off active track at rush hour).


For us, it provided a nice place to take a less dangerous stroll along this route. 2 track tunnels don’t provide many places to hide, while a 3 or 4 track line are far safer.



You get plenty of space to get artsy with your photos.




And surprisingly, the emergency exit has a decent amount of space to play with.



There’s plenty of graffiti down here.


Though I’m not going to show you all of it – tunnel graffiti is best read in person.




Enjoy your stroll. Just don’t buy property here thinking you’ll be able to commute to work reliably. As more and more buildings are upsized along this route, and entire neighborhoods gentrified, ridership numbers are only going up. And there’s nowhere to add more track.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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