Feb. 5, 2014 By Christian Murray
The MTA is in for some harsh words.
This neighborhood’s elected officials will be meeting with MTA officials tomorrow for the first time since the agency abruptly announced that it would be shutting down No. 7 train service—between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza–for 22 weekends this year.
The MTA, which has said that is cutting service in order to install a new signal system, extended the meeting to the elected officials around the time it announced the closures. However, an invitation was not sent to small business owners and other community stakeholders.
The elected officials plan to call on the MTA to provide shuttle buses that go directly from Vernon Blvd. to Grand Central and for the expansion and subsidization of the East River Ferry service. However, such calls in the past years have not amounted to anything.
But this year the outrage over the cuts has grown—as evidenced by the large turnout at a Jan. 17 rally protesting the MTA’s closures. At the Vernon Blvd/ Jackson Avenue rally, Richard Mazda, the owner of the Secret Theater, made a note of the groundswell of anger and said while at the podium: “You better watch out MTA.”
Meanwhile, one high-profile Long Island City business owner is looking to attend the MTA meeting, while others have plans to stand outside the meeting [2 Broadway] and make their views known.
Rebecca Trent, the owner of the Creek & the Cave, a restaurant/comedy club, said she aims to gain entry to the meeting. “These meetings decide whether we keep our doors open or not—and yet we aren’t invited,” Trent said.
Trent said that many people can’t get to Long Island City on the weekends, causing many businesses like hers to suffer.
Trent is working with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office to see if she can attend.
“I want her to be in that room, since she has a powerful case to make,” Van Bramer said.
Whether or not the MTA allows her to attend, Trent plans on standing outside the meeting and handing out fliers that state the issues concerning Long Island City’s small business community.
“We won’t be protesting with signs, just handing out fliers,” Trent said, who will go with other business owners.
Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Gianaris, who has often lashed out at the MTA concerning its service to Western Queens, said the agency has been completely unresponsive in the helping the community when it has announced No. 7 train cuts in the past.
“We have suggested shuttle buses [to the city], increased ferry service and other ideas in the past but they have done nothing,” Gianaris said. “We always leave no stone unturned.”
Van Bramer said the issue is frustrating, since the MTA just doesn’t seem to care about the consequences of its work.
“They believe the work is necessary and that the people [in Western Queens] just need to deal with it,” Van Bramer said.
“People don’t dispute the fact the work is needed…but they show no compassion and empathy for the people or businesses here,” Van Bramer said. “They don’t come to the community and ask ‘How can we make this easier for you.”
2 Broadway, 30th floor Conference Room
Thursday at 2pm.