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MTA’s Long-Term Solution to No. 7 Train Overcrowding, Two Extra Trains Per Hour

Photo: iStock

April 21, 2015 By Christian Murray

Ridership of the No. 7 train at the Vernon-Jackson and Court Square stations continues to surge and the MTA plans to alleviate the problem through the addition of two trains per hour.

The MTA is currently working on a new communications system (known as CBTC) that will ultimately add two trains per hour—from 27 to 29 trains during rush hour, said MTA President Carmen Bianco at a town hall meeting in Hunters Point last year.

The MTA also told the state senate in 2009 that the CBTC system would bring two extra trains per hour–prior to construction.

“Relief of Overcrowding Service on the Flushing line is currently limited to 27 trains per hour…,” the MTA told the state senate (page 11). “The combination of CBTC and the 7 West extension will enable a service increase of two additional trains per hour, a 7% increase in capacity.”

The MTA didn’t answer Tuesday with any specificity whether the additional No. 7 trains would meet the growing demand. However, in a statement, the MTA said: “At least 2 trains per hour to start will bring in an extra 2,200 customers into Manhattan from Queens.”

However, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that the additional trains would not be enough. He said that the CBTC is “not a panacea and not a solution to all the problems,” adding that “it is just the tip of the iceberg of what is needed.”

The MTA released figures yesterday that weekday ridership at the Vernon-Jackson station in 2014 grew by 12%, or 1,500 customers per day, compared to 2013. Ridership also increased by nearly 10%, or 2,000 riders per day, at the Court Square station, which includes the E,G,M and 7 lines.

The number of riders who use the Vernon-Jackson station has more than doubled since 2000, the MTA reported, with all the residential development. Overall ridership throughout the subway system was the largest in 65 years—growing by 2.6 percent last year to 1.75 billion customers.

Carmen Bianco in LIC

Carmen Bianco in LIC, March 2014

The MTA, in a press release that provided details about the increased No. 7 ridership, indicated that the CBTC would address the problem.

“The MTA is installing CBTC on the No. 7 line, which will allow more trains to run closer together, carrying more customers while also providing countdown clock information,” the press release read.

Van Bramer said that western Queens residents are too smart to rely on the MTA’s claims that the CBTC is the answer.

“I think 7 train riders are wildly skeptical of anything the MTA says and they are right because their experience informs them of the truth every single day,” Van Bramer said.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Gianaris said that the addition of two trains per hour to the No. 7 line will be inadequate.

However, he said, “It’s nice the MTA is finally acknowledging skyrocketing train ridership in Long Island City.”

“The 7 line is plagued by legendary service disruptions and weekend closures, and in recent months overall service has been the bane of western Queens’ existence,” Gianaris said.

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What about a cable car from Queensboro Plaza to Manhattan? It would cost less than a new subway line. Also more ferries and a better connection to the LIRR in Woodside. And all of this should be free for monthly Metrocard holders.

Jack Heights

Want to stop overcrowding and excessive delays on the #7 line? Get rid of the damned express trains for once and for all! The express track should only be used when there is a mechanical breakdown on the local track that needs to be bypassed. It’s as simple as that.

Jake M.

There is absolutely no way that they are running 27 trains per hour. Maybe in theory, but not in practice. If they could just get their shit together enough to operate the scheduled trains, I bet service would be drastically improved.

hipster$ are making me rich!!

they should just hand out spoons of nutella at the top of the stairs and have a guy at the bottom holding a trash bag for the spoons. no need to make this solution complcated or expensive. people love that stuff, they’ll forget about their ride from hell.

France Munoz G.

I am like the tren 7 is very important for all the people in Queens.


The #7 line is so fraught with “mechanical problems” that adding more trains would only increase the probability. Daily, I receive MTA e-mails of delays or suspension of service somewhere along the line. Coming home yesterday, I missed one by about five minutes.

John Z

I also agree about the trains at night. Its packed, I don’t see why they don’t add extras. I feel like there is so much potential but instead we are constantly let down.

Back to the 2 trains an hour thanks to CBTC, I feel like people have known this for a long time. When I contacted jvb’s office months ago we had spoke about this. I would still like to hear the answer as to when this work will be finished? And why is the opening of the extension constantly being pushed back?


They need to run more trains late at night when people get off the night shift (between 11 pm and 2am) – it’s utter madness how crowded these trains are.


7 service has been terrible especially on the weekend. MTA board are also misguided folks who don’t use mass transit to commute to work which is why they feel their solutions work well. They make dinner for you but never eat or taste it themselves. They should let people use their metrocard at woodside and flushing stations to take the LIRR for a small additional fee to try to help ease mass transit in the area.

El loco

Only : trains per hour for all that money and work! Hey how about a shout out to the guy who is just dumping garbage on the corner of 43d and 43d ave every day! You gotta love it.


Wow, all those weekend closures will result in two additional rush-hour trains? That’s, um, disappointing. And LIC crowding is only the half of it. The morning Manhattan-bound trains are jam packed by the time they get to 46th Street.

Greg Stone

What is the MTA going to do about the crappy, inadequate station entrances and exits? The Vernon Blvd. station is pathetic, and the staircases at Main Street are absurdly narrow. I am sure that users of other stations can add to the conversation. Once LIC is fully developed, it is going to be a dangerous situation. It seems that the MTA only rebuilds stations in Manhattan!

John Z

I feel like the extra 2 trains will be only due to the extra track from the extension n not from the CBTC. It only makes sense that you can fit more trains onto a now longer track.


I’m sure the announcement will then be … “We are delayed due to train traffic ahead.”
Let’s face it, the 7 train sucks.


If they add the Citibike stations to the LIC area, at least a small number of people may choose to bike their commute instead, at least to Queensboro Plaza or Court Square. Perhaps they could work out a deal to have a discounted East River Ferry monthly ticket if you also have a 30 day Metrocard, taking some of the Vernon-Jackson commuters over by boat instead of train. (I can dream.)


Not sure 2 extra trains are the solution. MTA says “Flushing line is currently limited to 27 trains per hour” which calculates to 1 train every two minutes. Adding another 2 trains could actually cause more delays if the schedules aren’t addressed first.


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