By Madina Toure
For the first time, the 7 train will be running at full capacity during all Lunar New Year celebrations in February.
The 7 train will be operating without interruption for the weekend of Lunar New Year, Feb. 21-22, and the weekend before the holiday, Feb. 14-15. Last year, construction on the 7 train was suspended only on the day of the parade.
City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) praised the MTA for the move, saying that individuals must purchase special foods a month in advance and that the train is the easiest transportation for elderly residents to use.
“That’s why it’s important to keep the train service open and understanding that most immigrants, especially senior citizens, they don’t drive,” Koo said. “They don’t even know how to take the bus. On the 7 train, it’s easy because they just get on it and they arrive.”
Koo noted the Chinese tradition calls for individuals to get a haircut before the holiday to symbolize the new year.
In 2012, Koo, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), along with local small business owners and community leaders, had meetings with the MTA in which they described the significant disruption that 7 line service changes had on area businesses whose customers could not travel easily to Flushing.
“It was a long meeting,” Koo said. “We told them this is very important in our community to have the service.”
Other Flushing lawmakers praised the decision as well. Kim said Flushing is known throughout the world for its Lunar New Year celebrations.
“The 7 train is essential for all those traveling to Flushing and the Main Street hub is one of the busiest in New York City,” he said in a statement. “I hope that the MTA will continue to keep this tradition throughout the rest of the 7 line construction in the next few years.”
Stavisky acknowledged that overhauling the entire 7 line is an enormous endeavor but said the MTA move to provide service gives the holiday value.
“They’re sending a message that keeping this line open without interruption for this holiday is just as important as transporting fans to a Mets game or the US Open,” she said in a statement. “This is an example of the religious and cultural tolerance New Yorkers are famous for, and I am delighted to wish everyone a very happy Lunar New Year free of transit hassles.”
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.