After this weekend’s miraculous temporary return of the L train, the MTA’s said the L train will be out of service between Lorimer and Myrtle-Wyckoff for at least another two weekends, meaning more crowded shuttle buses for residents — and more lost business for stores, restaurants and galleries.
Art galleries typically roll out new shows in September and are often only open on the weekends, when trains have been shut down, said Deborah Brown, the owner of the Storefront Bushwick gallery at 16 Wilson Ave.
“It’s really disheartening to see that a lot of people are not going to be able to get to us easily during the first six weeks of the art season when all the excitement is,” she said. Storefront Bushwick still saw good traffic after getting a positive review in The New York Times, but might have had even more if trains were running, Brown said. ”It put a huge burden on people to figure out how to get there,” and other galleries had also reported getting fewer visitors, she said.
The MTA does consult with community groups to avoid shutting down service during big events, said Caitlin Dourmashkin, the manager of Williamsburg’s Northside Merchants Association. ”For example, they had a scheduled closure during the Northside Festival this summer,” she said. “We worked with them to move that date.” Although the MTA hasn’t been so supportive of Bushwick’s own Bushwick Open Studios in the previous years, and the L train wasn’t running three out of seven years of the June festival.
But keeping the L running every weekend just isn’t an option, said MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker.
“Big jobs, such as tie and roadbed replacement, require larger blocks of time than can be accomplished in four to five hours on weeknights,” she wrote in an email. And, with just one track in each direction, there’s no way to reroute trains around construction, making shuttle buses the only option, she said.
Joshua Vazquez, the general manager and executive chef at Brooklyn Fire Proof East, said the outages make it harder for his employees to get to work and for customers to come to the restaurant. Business was particularly impacted on the first Saturday in September, he said.
“We should have a decent crowd on Saturday,” he said. “We had, like, five people.” The restaurant and bar, at 121 Ingraham St., did better the next weekend when an art event drew a crowd, he said.
Other businesses that are less dependent on traffic from outside the area seemed to take a smaller hit.
Mary Meyer said her boutique at 56 Bogart St., steps from the Morgan L stop, saw less of an impact than from past train closures. ”We’re still really busy,” possibly thanks to more traffic from neighborhood residents, Meyer said. ”They’re stuck here, so they shop and go to Roberta’s,” she said.
Northeast Kingdom, the restaurant at 18 Wyckoff Ave, also didn’t see a drop in customers, said manager Debbie Adey. ”I definitely notice more people out and about in the streets, but it hasn’t really affected our business,” she said.
And as transit riders turn to alternative means of travel, North Brooklyn Collective, the bike and skate shop at 121 Knickerbocker Ave., has seen more demand for accessories like lights and locks, said owner Max Cohen. ”Definitely more people are riding longer,” he said.