No. 7 shutdown cost city commuters $25M: Gioia

By Stephen Stirling

New Yorkers lost more than $25 million because of service cuts to the No. 7 subway line during an eight−week period in January and February, according to the preliminary results of a study City Councilman Eric Gioia’s (D−Sunnyside) office conducted.

Gioia said the shutdown of the No. 7 line on weekends from Times Square and Queensborough Plaza from January to early March cost commuters $25.9 million and at least 950,000 hours because of extra travel time over eight weeks.

“New Yorkers not only lose their time, but their hard−earned money when they have their commutes interrupted by service delays,” Gioia said. “The subway lines are the lifeline for most New Yorkers — when the trains don’t run, New Yorkers suffer. The MTA needs to take tangible steps towards making sure that when there are service interruptions, they have a minimal effect on New Yorkers.”

Using a formula developed by Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, the study analyzed how much money detours, additional trip segments and increased wait times were costing the average rider of the No. 7 subway line, which runs from Manhattan to Flushing through northern Queens.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which could not be reached for comment on the Gioia study, said track work was necessary as part of a multimillion−dollar signal project the subway line has been undergoing during the last two years. The MTA said the service cuts were designed to have the smallest impact possible on the day−to−day lives of commuters.

The weekend shutdown was a headache for Queens businesses as well. Owners of stores and other enterprises in Hunters Point said business was down as much as 70 percent due to a decline in foot traffic brought on by the subway cuts and repair work to the Borden Avenue Bridge.

As a result of the study, Gioia called on the MTA to expand local bus service during future shutdowns and institute a reduced fare for Queens residents who use the Long Island Rail Road on weekends as a substitute for the subway.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.