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Riders of 7 Train Vent Frustrations With Service Outages

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Any subway rider knows that weekend repairs are a fact of life. But riders on the 7 say their pain is a little stronger because of frequent weekend service outages between Manhattan and Queens, and on Thursday, they took their complaints to the very top. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Think the weekend repairs to your subway line are tough? Try living on the 7, where service will be shut down between Manhattan and Queens for more than a dozen weekends this year as part of an enormous overhaul to the line.

In Long Island City, riders say they're sick of feeling cut off.

"You have to take the subway backwards to Queensboro Plaza, three or four stops backwards, then get a train that's going to bring you to a different part of Manhattan than you intended to go to in the first place," said one rider.

On Thursday night, top officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority got an earful at a town hall meeting from residents and business owners flustered with the 22 scheduled weekends of work along the line in 2014.

"Couldn't you do it in 11 weekends instead of 22? Why is it 22?" said one.

Some even looked ahead to next year's weekend shutdowns.

"Can you please for this community not close on the 13th to the 17th of May next year? I'm going to run festivals. Please!" said one.

Carmen Bianco, the head of New York City Transit, came bearing apologies.

"I know this is disruptive, I know this is inconvenient. I understand. I do. I get it. But we have to find a way on a system that operates 365 days a year," Bianco said.

That way translates to weekend work, which includes replacing track, repairing Hurricane Sandy-inflicted damage to the line's East River tunnel and installing a new $750 million signal system.

"It's the safest system that can be provided, the most reliable, and that's what we're going to give you at the end of this job," said Fred Smith, senior vice president of MTA New York City Transit.

Local political leaders said that the recurring work has been a huge headache for Queens businesses and residents.

"There are several more years projected of this work. So yeah, we're all fed up, we're all tired of it, and it has taken its toll," said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens.

The MTA insists it will be worth it in the end, with riders on the 7 getting new cars and what they say will be more reliable service.

As for when riders can expect to see the work come to an end, the MTA expects most of the work to shift east of Long Island City by 2015, with the entire project concluding by 2017.

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