BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
As the City begins to emerge from an icy winter of tough commutes, one official wants the MTA to answer for straphangers’ recent woes.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) spoke to a crowd of Sunnysiders and commuters Wednesday morning to call out the MTA for what he called “outrageous,” “disgraceful” and “potentially dangerous” 7 train service and disruptions.
Some of the line’s more overwhelming recent weekday disruptions included a day-long shutdown due to an icy rail in early February. Planned shutdowns spanned five consecutive weekends throughout January and February, according to the MTA website.
“The MTA is saying, just wait, it will get better one day,” Van Bramer said. “But the truth, is all of the people here need to get to work today on time.”
The Councilman called on the MTA to release a list of every signal outage and track condition addressed by the agency over the last four months. He also called for greater State funding to the agency, but added, “the money has to be accounted for.”
“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to our customers who depend on the 7 line and we appreciate their patience,” MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said in a statement.
He also said the agency would “be more than happy” to comply with Van Bramer’s request, but questioned the rationale behind it.
“What does that accomplish? To confirm what we already know?” Ortiz said in an emailed statement. “We are already working hard to make the 7 line more reliable by installing a new signal system, replacing thousands of feet of track panels and making Sandy-related repairs – all vital work to improve service on the line. Unfortunately, this work takes time.”
“It is disingenuous of the Councilman to request on several occasions that we postpone work on the 7 line, then hold a rally to complain about service,” Ortiz added.
Van Bramer’s office confirmed that they have sent these requests in the past, primarily to accommodate cultural events in the neighborhood.
On Tuesday night, ahead of the rally, Van Bramer and the MTA took the argument to Twitter.
“Work taking years & it’s getting worse. Ask the riders. Tmrw is about WEEKDAY service, AM RUSH over last few months. #awful,” the Council Majority Leader Tweeted.
“Work taking years? So stop asking us to cancel work so we can upgrade signals and add more trains to the line,” Ortiz replied.
For many attendees and passersby at Wednesday’s rally, the most significant aspect of 7 train disruption is its impact on their professional lives.
Briarwood resident Micheline Joseph said she commutes to Sunnyside for her work in senior assisted living.
“Every day, delays, delays,” Joseph said. “Every day you have a lot of anxiety, and your boss, they don’t understand, because your boss, they don’t commute.”
“This has been going on for a long time,” she added. “Sucks.”
Sunnyside resident Tari Eason said he uses the 7 to commute to work in Manhattan. During a recent snowstorm, he said, “I left for work at 8 a.m. and I got to work at 9:45.”
“It affects my day because it affects my paycheck,” he added.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.