The MTA plans to come to Long Island City and explain to residents why it needs to shut down the subway—between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza–for 22 weekends this year, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
The MTA, in a closed-door meeting with elected officials Thursday, said the agency will hold a hearing in the neighborhood where it will provide details as to why the work is necessary as well as the long-term benefits it will bring. Van Bramer said a date has not been scheduled but he would expect the meeting to be held soon.
However, the elected officials who attended yesterday’s MTA meeting left far from satisfied.
The MTA told them that it had no plans to introduce a shuttle bus service between Vernon Blvd and Grand Central during the weekend closures—a service the community has constantly called for.
“They provided a number of reasons why they wouldn’t do it and many didn’t make any sense,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris.
Gianaris said that the MTA claimed that it would be difficult for them to turn the bus around for the return trip. He said the agency was unsure how it would reach an agreement with Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which is the agency in charge of the Queens-midtown tunnel. Furthermore, the MTA was even questioned whether the shuttle bus would save commuters any time at all.
“They said it would take people just as long if they took a shuttle bus to Queensboro plaza and took the train from there,” Van Bramer said. “I don’t know how they think that is true.”
The MTA was willing to talk to the operators of the East River Ferry service to see if it could expand service on weekends and arrange some sort of price matching. However, despite the MTA’s willingness to talk to the operator, the politicians were not hopeful.
The only area where the MTA is likely to provide some level of relief was in helping Long Island City businesses promote the community during the shutdowns. The agency appeared willing to launch a marketing campaign.
Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2 who was also at the meeting, said the community is going to be facing weekend shutdowns through to the end 2016. He said the MTA believes the work will result in 11 extra trains going through the tunnel an hour.
Conley said it was a frustrating meeting. “We did not walk out of the room satisfied,” he said.