The residents and business owners of Long Island City are not happy with the MTA and they’re not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.
The transit agency recently announced renovations that will be made to the No. 7 train starting in February that will leave riders with disrupted service for up to 22 weekends this year.
With the first round of construction restricting service between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza, the plan is leaving a sour taste in Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Flushing leaders’ mouths.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” Richard Mazda, the founder and director of the Queens Secret Theatre, said at a press conference on Friday morning. “This work has been going on last year, the year before that, and I’m sure they’re going to have something to fix next year as well.”
Business owners argued that while the signal updates and other improvements may be necessary, the lack of weekend service will no doubt be a huge blow to business.
The rally, organized by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), was not held to ask the MTA to stop work but rather to provide suitable alternatives to people traveling between Queens and Manhattan.
“The MTA has seen a surplus in funds,” Van Bramer said before a riled-up crowd. “There is no reason why a shuttle from Vernon [Boulevard] and Jackson [Avenue] to Midtown cannot be provided.”
The MTA, in a statement released on Thursday, said the work is essential and that the agency is doing the best it can to accommodate straphangers.
“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco said. “We have made every effort to schedule these projects simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”
Van Bramer and other community leaders said the MTA’s efforts are not enough.
“If people cannot get here, they will not come here,” Mazda said. “It is as simple as that.”
Though a direct shuttle from Queens to Manhattan will not be provided, the MTA reports that it will shuttle commuters from the Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue areas to Queensboro Plaza, where they can take another train line into the city.
The MTA has not publicly responded to any of Van Bramer’s outcries but when the councilman held a similar press conference last year, the agency called it nothing more than “political grandstanding,” according to Van Bramer.