The western Queens community came together during a town hall meeting with MTA officials on Thursday to discuss the line’s suspensions, which are expected to continue for 13 more weekends throughout the year.
Officials from the agency explained the purpose behind the suspensions and listened to feedback from residents, elected officials and business owners.
MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco expressed his apologies for the inconveniences but told those present that the disruptions will continue as planned.
“This is not something that is unique to just our 7 line riders, because of the nature of our system we have to do this all over the city,” Bianco said. “Let me apologize to you with the inconvenience we’re causing because I know it’s there and I do apologize. We’ve looked hard for alternate ways to do this and I think we found the best solution.”
One of the ongoing projects that are causing the No. 7 line to shut down on weekends is the implementation of a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), which by 2017 is expected to provide real-time arrival information at stations and “improve system safety, reliability, capacity and flexibility,” according to the agency’s presentation.
The other two projects include Steinway Tube reconstruction and rehabilitation, and track panel replacement.
The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 2 a.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.
One of the biggest topics brought up by residents and business owners during the night was the installment of a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.
Even though the entire room agreed it would be the best alternative during the suspensions, Bianco said that according to data from the MTA, a shuttle bus would only benefit a limited amount of people and would not save much travel time.
However, elected officials said they have yet to see any data regarding the shuttle service.
“We asked for it a while ago and I haven’t seen it,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “We’re still waiting for it. We keep hearing about it.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer agreed on the need to see the data as he asked the audience whether they believed the shuttle would work best for them.
“If the New York City transit believes that that plan is a bad plan for all of you, despite the fact that all of you think it’s a very good plan, then we need to see why this is being done the way it is being done,” Van Bramer said.
Although the work is expected to continue until 2017, this year is expected to be the worst and after mid-2015 the majority of the work disruptions will shift east from Long Island City, MTA officials said.