Residents and elected officials in Long Island City are fuming about the elimination of No. 7 train service in their neighborhood for the next nine weekends, and they are taking direct aim at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) with their anger.
“The people of Long Island City, our businesses, our residents deserve reliable, consistent transportation and the No.7 train is the heart of Long Island City and northwestern Queens, and we cannot continue to see these massive service reductions every year with little to no community input or notification,” Queens City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said at a press conference outside the Vernon-Jackson subway stop on Friday, January 22.
Beginning at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, January 29, through Monday, February 1 at 5 a.m., and continuing for a total of nine consecutive weekends, the No. 7 train will not run into or out of Manhattan between Grand Central Station and Queensboro Plaza.
Instead, Long Island City residents will have to board shuttle buses that will operate between Queensboro Plaza and the Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue stations making stops at 45th Road Court House Square and Hunters Point Avenue along the way.
Riders will have to take the shuttle bus to Queensboro Plaza and transfer to the N Train or the Q Train, which is being extended to Astoria during the disruption. From there, riders will have to take the N or Q train to 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan and then transfer to the No. 4 or No. 6 train.
MTA spokesperson James Anyansi said that the work will entail necessary system upgrades, replacements and rehabilitations.
However, much of the community’s anger stems from their belief that the MTA did not alert the community or ask for their input on the situation.
“It’s really just a slap in the face to the Long Island City community to do this without input and then to have a shuttle service that doesn’t really get to the heart of where people need to go to and from,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who joined Van Bramer, Assemblymembers Michael Gianaris and Cathy Nolan and local residents and business owners at the rally on Friday.
Meanwhile, Van Bramer and the other elected officials are advocating for the MTA to provide direct bus service into Grand Central station for riders – something the MTA said it will not do.
“That’s not a viable option because of the number of buses that would need and also traffic,” Anyansi said
In addition to inconveniencing the residents who live and work in the area, business owners said that the nine-week shutdown will likely have an extremely negative effect during an already difficult economy.
Sheila Lewandowski, a member of Community Board 2 and executive director of the Chocolate Factory theatre in Long Island City, said that when the MTA suspended service on the No. 7 line a few years ago, the theatre had to call all of the ticketholders to alert them to the change – resulting in about 20 percent cancelling their tickets. In addition, she said that walk-up sales plummeted nearly 50 percent as a result of the lack of subway service.
“We are working with our local businesses to make this a vibrant community and when we get no notice and our services taken out, you are telling us our businesses don’t matter, that Long Island City doesn’t matter,” Lewandowski said. “We need better service. The MTA is a service organization; they have to start acting like it.”