Council Member Van Bramer Leads Rally Against 22 Weekends Of Service Disruptions On 7 Line

On January 17th, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer was joined by elected officials who represent neighborhoods along the 7 Line, business owners, cultural and community leaders to call on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to stop disrupting the lives of Queens residents and implement a service schedule that gets people to work as well as to and from Western Queens reliably.

The MTA recently announced it will be disrupting service along the 7 Train for 22 weekends. These disruptions will begin February 28th and are projected to continue throughout the year. As a result the disruptions threaten to cripple businesses and cultural groups throughout Queens as well as negatively impact the lives of thousands of riders who count on the 7 Line to get to work, school and vital medical appointments over the weekend.

“We are sick and tired of the MTA shoving these disruptions down our throats and telling us they are good for us,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “The MTA continues to disrupt the lives of the residents of the 26th District and beyond with these annual service disruptions along the 7 Line. 22 weekends of closures in 2014 is outrageous and will hurt hundreds of thousands of people and threatens to kill our small businesses. Enough is enough. We will not continue to allow the MTA to interrupt our way of life. For as long as I am the Council Member I will take a stand against these constant disruptions and fight for adequate and reliable service that Queens residents can depend on.”

During the rally, Council Member Van Bramer proposed several solutions to alleviate service disruptions for riders:

Proposed solutions

·         Decrease the frequency of construction and service disruptions

·         Utilize MTA’s FASTTRACK program on the 7 line. The FASTRACK program, would close a subway line segment only where nearby alternative subway service is available

·         Increase N Train Frequency and have M Trains run on weekends

·         Provide shuttle bus service directly from Hunters Point, Long Island City to Grand Central

·         Subsidize the cost of the East River ferry service, from $4 to $2.50; the same price as the subway for riders who board the ferry in Long Island City

·         Lastly Council Member Van Bramer recommended that the MTA develop an aggressive marketing campaign to promote Long Island City with advertisements on the Manhattan side to make the public aware that businesses in Western Queens are open. Through this campaign the MTA would work with businesses to develop a meaningful campaign which would not allow these businesses to fail

“It is simply unacceptable for the MTA to shutdown such a vital transportation link for 22 straight weekends,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “The Number 7 line is one of the busiest subway lines in the city and its Flushing-Main Street station is the busiest subway stop in Queens.  We should be talking about adding trains to the line, not about cutting service along it.”

“Our fast-growing western Queens neighborhoods require increased mass transit options, not ones that are being slashed, “ said State Senator Gianaris. “The people of Long Island City and Sunnyside deserve better than 22 weekends of 7 train closures, and I will fight to ensure the MTA reduces weekend closures, improves local bus service, and increases transit alternatives like free shuttle bus service.”

"The recently announced weekend service disruptions on the 7 train are unacceptable," said Council Member Costa Constantinides.  "The disruptions impact all aspects of our life here in Western Queens.  From our economic sectors that lose valuable business, local employees who cannot get to work in a convenient way and our local residents that cannot get around the city; it's time for the MTA to listen to these voices and amend this poorly conceived plan.  Thank you to my colleague Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer for leading the charge on this."

“Although maintenance is important for keeping trains running for future generations, I would like to see better planning in order to prevent the closure of the 7 train for 22 weekends,” Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) said. “I hope the MTA can work quickly to find a more reasonable solution.”

“The 7 train runs through the heart of Queens, and for many of my constituents, it is their only access to Manhattan,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “While we understand that repairs must be made from time to time, I urge the MTA to consider the livelihood of the people of Queens and make efforts to decrease the amount of consecutive weekend disruptions. Having to take a shuttle to the City or a transfer can cause a huge inconvenience to many people, especially those who have to commute to and from work on weekends. We are one City; it should not be a major inconvenience just to get from one borough to another. The people of Queens deserve better.”

"I’m a Long Island City business owner and I am a Long Island City Resident and the founder of the Long Island Restaurant Association," said Rebecca Trent, owner of Creek and the Cave. "My venue is a destination spot for ALL of NYC.  We bring over 500 artists a month and countless audience from every part of this great city that we get to call home.  I am host to over 150 live events monthly, we record and distribute 16 podcasts a weekly, act as a film location for various independent artists and film studios daily not to mention the bar, the restaurant, and the pinball machines.  And not one ounce of my hard work, of my blood, sweat and tears matters if there are no people there. Art cannot happen without an audience. This issue has been going on for decades in Long Island City.  The MTA continues to apply 1970’s solutions in a 2014 world. This neighborhood has grown by over 500% since then.  And we simply cannot endure the closures - the businesses can’t endure them, the residents can’t endure them AND our politicians don’t believe we should have to."

“We were promised by the MTA in 2011, the services disruptions that the community suffered through would not re-occur,” said Joe Conley, Chair of Community Board 2. “Now we are faced with more service disruptions that will result in a major negative impact for the residents, art institutions and businesses in Hunters point. This is unacceptable" 

“These shut downs are by no means just a matter of inconvenience: they impact the operations and finances of our businesses - many of which operate outside the 9-5 weekday only envelope,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the Long Island City Partnership. “Our restaurants, hotels and cultural entities depend on the 7 line for their stability and success. And workers at our large scale commercial businesses, such as JetBlue and Uber (both of which operate 24 hours) and industrial and tech businesses depend on the 7 train at “off-peak” hours to commute. Our thousands of local residents as well as visitors to our 22 hotels depend on this vital route not only to get in and out of but also around the area. Long Island City is a vital part of the NYC economy as well as a significant business district and mixed-use neighborhood in its own right. Now more than ever, inner- and outer-neighborhood transportation built around the 7 train is critically important.”

“Places like The Chocolate Factory at one end of the 7 and Flushing Town Hall at the other attract visitors from all over the world, but if our audiences can’t get to us, we don’t exist,” said Sheila Lewandowski, Founder of the Chocolate Factory. “95% of our audience and artists come to rehearsals and shows by subway or bus that makes the MTA a Chocolate Factory partner.  If my partner does not deliver, that’s like losing the lights. Should Queens have world class art if our public transportation system continues to operate as if it’s just a commuter line? Data shows that visitors are going to all five boroughs, from all five boroughs, but if the message is just don’t come to Queens on the weekends then the answer is no world class art, and The Chocolate Factory should just move to Manhattan or close.”