By Bill Parry
A transit advocacy group has begun a novel campaign it hopes will convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators to fund the MTA’s proposed $32 billion capital plan to improve to city’s aging subway system.
Members of the Riders Alliance collected “subway horror stories” at Queensboro Plaza in Long Island City during Tuesday’s morning rush hour, part of a weeklong drive throughout the five boroughs.
“There’s no end to the complaints, especially here on the No. 7 subway line,” Rider Alliance organizer Jess Nizar said. “And all of these complaints can be fixed with proper funding.”
More than 50 straphangers took a moment to fill out the card finishing the sentence “My subway horror story is…”
The cards and other stories contributed online will be presented to the governor and state lawmakers to underscore the urgency of proper funding.
No. 7 train rider Carol Crump wrote “weekend and late night service on the 7 train has been a joke. Sometimes I have to resort to taking the bus or car service and that’s not sustainable or affordable.”
Service on the N/Q line also drew some fire from disgruntled riders.
Emily Hultman wrote “signal problems have stranded me at night several times in the past year on the N/Q. It isn’t safe to be kicked off a train to fend for yourself in a deserted part of town at night.”
But one rider wished she rode the 7 instead of the N/Q.
Linda Smith, a lifelong Astoria resident wrote that “each night I watch five 7 trains pull into Queensboro Plaza while standing in the freezing cold waiting for one N or Q to arrive. It usually takes 30 minutes on a good night and it is already packed. Then two or three N or Q trains will pull in within five minutes of each other. That makes no sense at all!!! We Astoria riders feel like second class citizens – and the governor and our public officials are the ones responsible to fund our public transit system.”
John Raskin, the executive director of the Riders Alliance, believes that it’s too easy to blame the MTA for all the breakdowns and malfunctions.
“The real culprits are Gov. Cuomo and members of the state Legislature who have not stepped up to provide funds that would fix and upgrade our subways,” Raskin said. “Our transit system is better in every way than it was back in the 1980s, but if we don’t invest the funds to maintain it, we’ll see the bad old days come back.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr