By Mark Hallum
The MTA is firing back at a trio of politicians after they claimed last week that about half of the No. 7 trains in service had failed safety inspections of their wheels.
Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon and state Senate hopeful Jessica Ramos, alongside City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) contended that flattened wheels were found on half the No. 7 train fleet after an investigation following two derailments at Willets Point at the July 19. The three held a news conference at the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Avenue station.
But the MTA maintained that at no point did the state agency put trains in service that had failed a safety inspection and that the claims, based on a New York Daily News article acknowledged as credible by the MTA, were inaccurate.
“This is flat out false. Completely untrue and at no point ever was a 7 train that failed an inspection in passenger service. Let’s break down how this works,” MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said. “Wheels are measured for wear roughly every 75 days and when required, they are trimmed (or trued) so that all four wheels on a particular truck are the same size. When a wheel fails a measurement, it’s taken out of service, trued and put back in service.”
Nixon blames her political opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for the subway crisis which has stemmed from aging infrastructure due to poor funding of the MTA in recent years.
Whereas the MTA used to be funded through the state budget every year, it is now funded through the governor’s office directly.
“Gov. Cuomo has not only ignored the MTA, but raided its budget to pay for his own pet projects. He uses the MTA like an ATM,” Nixon said in a statement after the news conference. “Not only are there serious safety concerns, but delayed service is also devastating to low-income New Yorkers’ financial concerns. Once and for all, it is the governor who controls the MTA and is responsible for its funding — and he has blatantly failed New Yorkers.
She pointed out that the Daily News story was referring to a wheel wear caused by the 7 line’s extension to Hudson Yard and its effect on a switch at Willets Point, which has been corrected.
Jessica Ramos is a Jackson Heights activist challenging state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.
“The 7 train is a staple of life in Queens. Tens of thousands of us take it every day — to go to work, to school, to the doctor, to visit family. Meanwhile, our elected officials continue to ignore the fact that the wheels are worn down on half of all 7 trains. We are in danger — simply because our representatives refuse to prioritize our safety,” Ramos said. “This kind of neglect is a disgrace. As state senator, I will fight to make sure the MTA works — and is safe — for all of us.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall