BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a group of Long Island City businesses are still sorting out details for a marketing campaign that would run during a series of weekend shutdowns on the 7 train.
While the MTA works on three infrastructure improvement projects on the 7 train for 13 weekends between February and July, with nine more disruptions expected later in the year, it has agreed to launch a free marketing campaign to promote the many restaurants and cultural institutions in Long Island City for customers traveling between Queens and Manhattan.
Sheila Lewandowski, director of the Chocolate Factory Theater in LIC, said suspending the 7 train for maintenance work is not the first of its kind, but the duration of this shutdown is really hurting many of the small businesses in the neighborhood.
“Most businesses make their money over the weekend and when you remove access to 46 percent of the year – that is practically telling them to close,” she added.
After sitting-in several meetings with MTA representatives, Lewandowski said they are disappointed with how the meetings have surfaced, because details of the marketing campaign were not communicated properly or in a timely fashion.
After much back and forth, as of last week, the group has given the MTA creative material that they can use to launch the marketing campaign.
MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said they have received creative material from the businesses and they are looking to launch the campaign as soon as possible.
“We are still committed to working with the Long Island City contingent on a robust marketing campaign,” he said.
Ortiz said the marketing campaign will run over the next three months on subways through the form of posters announcing the 7 train diversions.
After the three-month marketing period, Ortiz said they would have to check their availability for marketing space on the subways.
Lewandowski said they are still waiting to hear from the MTA about the duration of the campaign.
“Three months is not a real commitment because this project goes until 2017,” she said.
Both Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said they are disappointed with how the marketing campaign is being executed.
“We are already three weeks into the 22 consecutive weekends of service disruptions on the 7 line and the MTA has yet to deliver a meaningful marketing campaign that will benefit Long Island City businesses,” Van Bramer said.
Riders traveling between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza are encouraged to take free shuttle busses from Queensboro Plaza to Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue Station, or hop on the E, F, N or S.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.