BY JOE MARVILLI
Although the MTA has been doing work every weekend on the 7 line, Lunar New Year visitors to Flushing will have a smooth ride.
The agency agreed to supply full 7 train service to and from Flushing during Lunar New Year weekend, Feb. 21-22, and the weekend before it, Feb. 14-15, as well. This marks a large step forward in a multi-year battle to suspend maintenance on the subway track during the holiday, which draws thousands upon thousands of people each year.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) made the announcement at her district office, joined by other elected officials and civic leaders from Flushing. Everyone in attendance praised the decision and commended the MTA for respecting the importance of the holiday for Asian Americans.
“When people come to watch the Mets play or come for the U.S. Open, they also come for the Lunar New Year celebration. This is a major cultural occasion in the Asian American community,” Stavisky said, adding that the MTA’s decision is a “recognition of the importance of the Flushing community.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said that the full 7 train service not only shows cultural respect, but it will also help the neighborhood’s economy.
“The entire month, people come to Flushing to shop and have an impact on the bottom line of our local economy,” he said. “We continue to have a victory, because the MTA is continuing to respect our agreement.”
While he praised the decision, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) mentioned that there is more to be done, as the shuttle bus during service changes is inconvenient for residents, especially seniors.
“Collectively, we have a voice. We have to continue to use this voice whenever it is necessary,” he said.
Peter Tu, of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, and James Kim, of the Korean American Association of Queens, also expressed their thanks to the MTA.
The construction is part of a multi-year, $550 million capital improvement project to upgrade the line’s 50-year old signal system. The signals will be enhanced with state-of-the-art Communications-Based Train Control technology. The reason for the weekend shutdowns is that the replacements and upgrades take many, many hours to install. However, once the work is complete, it is expected to minimize the amount of signal breakdowns, leading to smoother service overall.
The MTA is scheduled to complete the work in 2017.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joe Marvilli.