Dec. 28, 2012 By Christian Murray
The No. 7 train will be cutting its weekend service for 13 successive weekends—starting tonight—and elected officials and members of the Long Island City community were out this morning voicing their displeasure.
The MTA, which provided the community with little advance notice, will be cutting service—between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza– each weekend through March 25.
Van Bramer, who held a press conference with city councilman Peter Koo at the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave. station, said the MTA showed “little respect for the people of Long Island City or the people of Queens.”
He said that the MTA failed to work with the community in determining the closure dates and that its “poor planning and negligence” would hurt cultural institutions, small businesses and local residents.
The Long Island City community was blindsided by the closures, community leaders said. The neighborhood was not notified of the weekend shutdowns until December 8, when a letter was sent to Community Board 2. Then on December 11, Van Bramer’s office was notified by the MTA.
“There were no discussions,” Van Bramer said. “The MTA just gave us a list of dates and said ‘deal with it.’”
The trains will stop running—between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square–from 11:45 p.m. on Fridays, before resuming at 5 a.m. on Mondays. The MTA, in a statement, said the work is necessary to do maintenance work in the Steinway Tunnel, which links Queens and Manhattan.
Long Island City commuters will be the hardest hit, since they depend on shuttle buses that will run between the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave. station and Queensboro Plaza, where passengers can transfer to the N or the Q train.
Van Bramer said that many small Long Island City businesses, which lost$10,000s in the hurricane, are going to be suffer once again. Meanwhile, many cultural events will be impacted—from the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Sunnyside to the Lunar New Year in Flushing.
Sheila Lewandowski, co founder of the Chocolate Factory, said that “We have four shows during this period, which artists have been working on for years.”
“We could reschedule with three months notice–but not two weeks,” Lewandowski said. She expects 5,000 people to come to the shows. “If the audience can’t make it, what are we saying to the artists?”
Van Bramer said that the MTA does the track work in the dead of winter to ensure the NY Mets season and the US Open is not interrupted.
However, he said small businesses and cultural events matter too.
“We keep asking the MTA to let us know their plans in advance,” Van Bramer said.” “Come to us and talk to the cultural institutions and elected officials as to how not to devastate the community.”
“There is no reason they can’t work with the community to break it up,” Van Bramer said.