By Mark Hallum
Express train service on the No. 7 line will be cut back for repairs to take place at the 61st Street-Woodside station for as long as a month in February and March, and Queens commuters may need more time to make it to work.
The express track at the station will need to be replaced along with the support beams beneath it, The Daily News originally reported, and the MTA confirmed riders may be affected from Feb. 17 to March 12.
“We have significant infrastructure work to do along the line, but dates and plans have not been finalized,” an MTA spokesman said. “Many riders will not be impacted, but we will of course accommodate riders as needed.”
The MTA said weekend riders should not be affected, since the No. 7 runs only local on those days, and express service is available only during peak hours. Express service will remain between the Flushing-Main Street and 74th Street-Jackson Heights stations, and the agency said local straphangers can experience better service with more train frequency.
Melissa Orlando, founder of transit advocacy group Access Queens said the repairs may be problematic, but are necessary.
“I’ve been told that it’s safe to run the trains; however, they need to be repaired sooner rather than later,” Orlando said. “So of course, we want the MTA to do what they need to do and ensure safety for the riders and make the repairs. However, having the express train switch over to the local track at 74th Street is going to cause delays for the riders.”
Orlando said that passengers could expect an eight- to 10-minute extension on their commutes and that people traveling from the 74th Street station could expect additional snags from express trains using the local track.
The escalator at the Woodside station has been under repair for more than a month and only recently reopened.
During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fiscal-year 2019 budget address on Jan. 16, he said the state agency is getting closer to establishing a dedicated revenue stream to bring the subways and their 19th-century technology into the 21st century.
By dedicating the Payroll Mobility Tax to the MTA, the agency would have a guaranteed $1.6 billion per year. With the Fix NYC panel, put in place by Cuomo to enact congestion pricing for vehicle traffic into Manhattan, releasing a report on how the proposal could be carried out, the MTA could fully fund an overhaul of the system, the governor said.
The No. 7 line was completed in 1917 and still uses the same analog signal system put in place around that time, but installation of a digital system known as communications-based train control, or CBTC, began in early 2017 to safely run an extra two trains per hour.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall