Queens straphangers who ride the erratic No. 7 train are saying in no uncertain terms that they can’t take it anymore. The severe winter put riders through a tough obstacle course: delayed trains, skipped stops, suspension of service and overcrowded platforms.
Disruptions have been commonplace on the transit lifeline of northern Queens for the past several years since the MTA launched a $550 million program to update the signal system, replace tracks and repair East River tunnel damage from Sandy. But frequent service outages, particularly during rush hour and weekends, have tested riders’ patience.
Frustrated No. 7 riders are organizing and beginning to speak in one loud voice.
Sunnyside activists have created a blog and Facebook site called 7 Train Blues, which has drawn hundreds of followers eager to share their opinions and bad experiences.
Back in March business owners joined angry riders and community leaders at a rally under the 40th Street station to say the economy in western Queens had been hurt by the poor service.
And the Riders Alliance, a transit advocacy group, collected what it called “subway horror stories” at Queensboro Plaza in an effort to persuade Albany to fund the MTA’s $32 billion capital budget plan to fix the ailing system. No. 7 complaints took top billing.
Everyone agrees the massive project must be done to improve 7 service, but the MTA has turned a tin ear to the riding public.
When a Queens councilman asked the MTA to provide Sunday service for the March 1 St. Pat’s Day for All Parade in Sunnyside, an agency spokesman chided him for trying to have it both ways by wanting planned work canceled and then criticizing the poor service.
This was a classic example of tuning out Queens straphangers, who care deeply about their ethnic holiday events. The MTA should start listening to its No. 7 riders as the first step toward restoring customer relations.
The 7 Train Blues blog is asking the MTA to hold town hall meetings. Translation: Riders want more information about repair work and service problems, which is not unreasonable.
The MTA should set up a No. 7 line page for riders on its MTA.com website and send agency reps out to the bigger stations, such as Woodside, to talk to straphangers when major disruptions occur.
The beleaguered riders have paid their dues (in higher fares) and deserve some goodwill.