May 2, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Constant shutdowns, delayed deadlines, and ongoing work along the 7 line are just some of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Congressman Joe Crowley, and Access Queens’ gripes against the MTA.
The three will hold a rally Thursday morning in Sunnyside to demand that the MTA and New York City Transit Authority do better for Queens by upping 7 train service.
Van Bramer told the Sunnyside Post that commuters like himself have been experiencing “dreadful” trips on the 7 line in recent weeks.
“We’ve been experiencing incredible delays and outages and crowded platforms even worse than the service we normally get,” Van Bramer said.
Recent news of further delays to the MTA’s years-long modern signal project on the line have made the situation unbearable, he adds.
The contractors in charge of installing the signal system recently told New York City Transit that work wouldn’t be completed until November due to ongoing design and software issues. The new deadline is several months past the late June deadline they had pegged before–one of several deadlines past the expected 2016 completion date for the project.
“They cannot keep setting deadlines and then yet again blow through them time and time again. We need a firm deadline. We need real information.”
Melissa Orlando, founder and Executive Director of Access Queens, said the constant problems on the 7-line, including delays on the signal system installation are a quality of life issue. She adds that service along the line must be better, especially when displaced L train riders are expected to head to the 7 train in Court Square next year.
“The people of Queens cannot wait any longer for the MTA to get its act together,” Orlando said. “There must be penalties for every day this project is late, and MTA leadership must be held accountable.”
Van Bramer and Access Queens will also demand that the new NYCT President, Andy Byford, come out to western Queens to listen to 7 train riders in an emergency town hall. Van Bramer first called for Byford to come to Queens when he assumed his post in January.
“We are demanding he come and address the people,” Van Bramer said. “We are demanding from the MTA and NYCT an update on the work being done along the line, and that they start to work with the community again.”
The councilmember said Byford’s recent comments on potentially having more outages along the 7 line to speed up work are “explosive” and bewildering.
“I don’t know what they mean,” Van Bramer said. They haven’t updated any of us or told us what that would look like. How can we even comment on that when they have not approached anyone with detailed plans?”
The upcoming rally follows a rally held in late January, where Van Bramer and Woodside businesses said the MTA was wreaking havoc on their neighborhood for their prolonged work on the 7-line tracks there.
Tomorrow’s rally also follows an announcement made by the MTA today on a $45 million contract awarded for structural steel repair and overcoat painting along a considerable portion of the 7 line.
In a statement, MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said MTA Chairman Lhota recently toured the 7 line with Van Bramer and local officials ahead of the new paint and repair job announcement today.
“Also this past month, Transit President Byford told MTA Board members that he’s very unhappy about delays and is aggressively pushing the contractor installing the brand-new signal system on the 7 line to work harder and complete the job sooner than the contractor’s new projection,” Tarek said. “We appreciate our customers’ patience while these projects are underway.”
Update 5/2, 5:35 P.M. – Statement from MTA added