By Bill Parry
An MTA schedule of weekend service shutdowns in 2016 shows there is light at the end of the tunnel for straphangers who ride the No. 7 subway line. The MTA said it requires fewer shutdowns than in previous years as reconstruction progresses and improvement projects near completion.
Beginning in late January the schedule shows eight weekends will be affected, spread out over 11 months. During these weekends service will be shut down between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square in both directions.
“The growth of the Flushing Line matters greatly to the growth of Queens, and these projects are critical to the future of the line,” James Ferrara, interim president of New York City Transit, said. “Replacing old tracks means a smoother, faster ride for customers, and installing a modern signal system means less crowded and more reliable commutes. Improvements to any part of our infrastructure allows us to better serve all of our customers.”
In 2016, contractors will continue installing and testing the new signal equipment throughout the line ahead of its launch in 2017. Once completed, the new system will interface with subway cars to allow for countdown clocks, increased operational flexibility and reliability, system safety improvements and increased capacity to run more trains per hour, according to the MTA.
There will be no service in either direction between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza from 11:30 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday on the following weekends: Jan. 22-25, March 18-21, April 1-4, April 15-18, Oct. 21-24, Oct. 28-31, Nov. 11-14 and Nov. 18-21.
“While we’ve known about lousy service on the 7 line for some time, the need for drastic improvements is more evident by the day,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “A decline in the number of weekend closures is a tiny step in the context of the need for greatly increased service. I look forward to the day when 7 train riders will no longer have to endure such problems at all.”
On the Facebook group 7 Train Blues, its more than 1,400 members were strangely quiet. One straphanger posted that he appreciated knowing the shutdown dates many months ahead of time and “not a few weeks in advance” as in years past.
For more information on 7 line work, rides can visit the MTA website.
“This work may be a short-term inconvenience now, but every repair or improvement we make is a step toward a better Flushing Line and a more reliable subway system for all,” Ferrara said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr