After dozens of business owners rallied with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) and other lawmakers in protest of No. 7 train weekend service cuts, the MTA said it is willing to give in to some of the demands, just not the ones the community was hoping for.
During a meeting held last week, the MTA said it would develop an advertising campaign to market Long Island City — particularly the Hunters Point area — to offset the expected business lull.
Unfortunately, the city agency said it will not run a shuttle between Vernon-Jackson and Midtown Manhattan, a request elected officials and small businesses were pushing for.
“It was informative in the sense that the MTA gave a really lengthy report on the work that is being done and I appreciated that information,” Van Bramer said. “Ultimately it has to be considered a disappointment because they dismissed the shuttle.”
According to Van Bramer, the MTA claimed if a shuttle bus was granted there would be problems figuring out where the vehicle would turn once in Manhattan.
“They also said that it wouldn’t save any time,” he said. “I said to them that I just don’t believe that my constituents are going to believe that.”
Though the MTA will not provide LIC with its own shuttle to Manhattan, a bus will transport people to Queens Plaza where they can connect to the E, N and Q trains.
Many business owners in Hunters Point, including Creek and the Cave owner Rebecca Trent and Queens Secret Theatre founder Richard Mazda said shutting down the No. 7 train for 22 weekends out of the year would be detrimental and put a strain on all businesses in the area.
“To all of us, this seems like something that is incredibly doable,” Van Bramer said of the shuttle. “If you’re taking away service, you have to make some accommodations.”
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the shuttle was not a viable option and that the route between Hunters Point and Grand Central is often congested and would be a longer commute for riders.
“Our position has been pretty clear from the beginning,” Ortiz said. “Having a shuttle makes the wrong assumption that most folks riding the 7 are going to Grand Central. Most people are not going to Grand Central and a vast majority of them would have to get on another train anyway to complete their trip.”
Ortiz said the marketing campaign could include station posters, brochures and a two-sided branded MetroCard which will read somewhere along the lines of “Long Island City is still in business.”
The MTA is asking area business owners to help develop the plan. There has been no set date for when the campaign will launch.
While business leaders and elected officials remain displeased with the MTA, Van Bramer said he will try to get the agency to change its mind.
“They don’t seem flexible at all, but we’re going to keep fighting and keep pushing,” he said. “All of these businesses pay taxes and tax revenue goes into the budget of the MTA. They are entitled to service and if you’re going to take service away from them, you need to provide an alternative.”