Filmmaker creating documentary on canceled L train shutdown

The documentary follows the plans for the L train from the announcement of the shutdown to the ultimate cancellation of the shutdown.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A local filmmaker is creating a documentary about the aftermath of the canceled L train shutdown that he hopes to release the film by 2021.

Director Emmett Adler began filming in 2016 when the L train shutdown was initially proposed and he spoke with business owners and neighborhood residents about how the shutdown would affect their lives.

Governor Andrew Cuomo abruptly canceled the shutdown in favor of a plan that would allow the transit authority to do repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy without closing the tunnel completely. Adler’s filming primarily explores the three intervening years of fear from residents about their transit options, as well as the impact on property values and the surrounding businesses.

Cuomo ultimately declared a state of emergency for the subway after the summer of 2017 after a series of derailments and malfunctions, and problems continued in 2018 when the subways posted the worst on-time performance of any rapid transit system in the world.

Adler said that he didn’t realize when he started filming that the situation for the subway would become so dire and he also incorporated similar transit disasters that developed across the country.

Adler has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the documentary and recently raised more than $25,000 in order to finish the film, which will also explore national transit issues. Adler’s Kickstarter page notes that the mission for the documentary is to highlight the problems resulting from a lack of investment in mass transit, in addition to presenting solutions and pushing the issues into a national conversation.

Adler told News 12 earlier this month that he lived on the L when the shutdown was first announced and he as he started filming in 2016, he followed what he called three years of misinformation about the project.

“When something like this happens, it can decimate a community,” he said to News 12. “It can close businesses, it can cause real estate prices to dip, and all of that happened to some extent with the L train.”

Adler has captured more than 100 hours of footage and more than two dozen interviews. The film has already secured a $5,000 grant from the Lucius and Eva Eastman (L.E.E.) Fund, as well as $10,00 in private investment.

3 thoughts on “Filmmaker creating documentary on canceled L train shutdown

  1. There was never going to be a shutdown. It was all just cover to jam in the busway and bike lanes. Amazing how those “contingency measures” became “vital improvements” once the shutdown was averted.

    According to the NYC Crashmapper app, there has actually been an increase in collisions on E 20th since it was “improved” to connect the 1st Ave bike lane to the Williamsburg ferry at Stuy Cove, which of course was scrapped once the shutdown was averted.

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