Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and elected officials representing all four corners of the borough listened to a presentation by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week on ongoing track work. But the discussion quickly—and rightfully—turned into a litany of complaints regarding the “summer of hell” that is plaguing residents across the city.
Queens leaders told the MTA that jam-packed trains resulting from summer repair work is making riders miserable, but also negatively impacting Queens businesses and the borough’s workforce. The agency was chided for not giving enough of a heads-up regarding the work, and borough leaders pleaded with the MTA for increased shuttle service to prevent borough residents from facing a transit nightmare. Councilman Barry Grodenchik pointed out that northeast Queens—which has long been called a “transit desert”—would be doubly impacted if transportation options in that section of the borough became even scarcer.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Michael Gianaris has proposed legislation that would exempt the MTA from a state provision that requires public authorities to reimburse the state for expenses incurred on its behalf in the wake of news that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration had directed the agency last year to send $4.9 million to fund three state-run ski areas. We agree with the senator that such a move was a “misplaced priority,” considering that the MTA has been deemed to be facing a crisis.
Since the MTA is planning extensive track work this summer that is expected to result in a reduction in service and overcrowded trains, the least that the agency can do to compensate riders is to ensure adequate shuttle service. Going forward, Queens leaders and residents should be given proper notice as to when track work would take place and the possible delays that could result from such work.
Also, considering that the governor has said that the MTA is in a “state of emergency,” the state should not shift any resources away from New York City’s troubled transit system. New Yorkers may have become accustomed to the idea that the next few months will be the “summer of hell,” but that doesn’t mean that the MTA and state shouldn’t do everything possible to alleviate the situation.