Feb. 9, 2016 By Christian Murray
Several Queens-based council members are calling on the MTA to conduct a top-to-bottom study of the 7 line, claiming that weekday service is unreliable and riders are often left waiting on overcrowded platforms as they try to make their way into work.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who held a press conference this morning at the 40th Street station in Sunnyside with the transit advocacy group Access Queens, said that 7 train riders deserve better. He said the delays are almost daily and many residents get to work late.
“Many people are often left waiting on the platform in the cold just watching the [packed] trains pass by them,” Van Bramer said, adding that his social media feed erupts whenever there are problems.
Van Bramer, who was joined by about 20 people at the rally, said that he wrote a letter to the head of the MTA Thomas Prendergast calling for a “Full Line Review.”
He said that such reviews have been conducted on the lettered lines and have resulted in improvements such as better customer communication, greater reliability and higher service frequency. He said that he wanted the MTA to examine the 7 line as soon as possible.
Van Bramer said that his Queens council colleagues who represent 7-train riders have all signed onto the letter, including Danny Dromm (Jackson Heights), Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (Elmhurst, Corona) and Peter Koo (Flushing).
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said in a statement that the agency has “enhanced inspections and added additional personnel to improve response times” when 7-train problems occur. However, he added, “There have been a couple of major incidents on the line over the past several weeks, a broken rail for example, that have negatively impacted service.”
Ortiz said that the MTA is committed to conducting line reviews but would not put a timeline as to when one would take place involving the 7 line. He said that the agency is turning its attention to doing reviews of the numbered lines.
Melissa Orlando, who founded #7TrainBlues and Access Queens, said that service has gotten worse in the past 12 months, with service last week being particularly poor.
“We want the MTA do the full line review,” she said, adding that “we need to know why the trains break down so often and what improvements are going to be made.”
She said that she wanted the MTA to put in place an objective measure to analyze the effectiveness of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), an upgraded system that allows for more frequent and reliable trains, once it goes into effect. The MTA has been working on that system upgrade for some time.
The letter sent by the Queens council members calls on the MTA to examine how CBTC is being implemented, charging that the track work has caused years of closures and delays.
Meanwhile, Sunnyside resident Ty Sullivan just wants more accountability: “People’s jobs are in jeopardy every day there are train delays. We need that to change.”