Thursday, December 25, 2014

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Rockaways Straphangers Demand Better Service From Transit Officials

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Nearly six months after Hurricane Sandy, the A train still is not running in the Rockaways, and straphangers from that storm-damaged area of Queens attended a Midtown meeting on Thursday to let MTA officials know they were tired of waiting for it. NY1's Transit reporter Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The A train is coming back to the Rockaways, but not soon enough for those who live along the crippled subway line.

At Thursday's Midtown meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council, an advisory group to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Rockaways straphangers vented to a pair of the agency's officials about having to endure even longer commutes on jam-packed buses in the absence of the A train.

"There are three times as many riders looking to get on that same bus. So besides cramming, they are pushing, they are going through the back doors and everything," said a transit user.

"After six months, this is an absolute disgrace," said another transit user.

The A line was devastated by Sandy, leaving more than 35,000 Rockaways commuters flustered and MTA workers with an enormous repair job.

"Our signaling system was destroyed, our power system was destroyed out there. Communications was destroyed out there," said Joseph Leader, an MTA vice president.

Nearly four miles of track along the peninsula are still being fixed, testing the patience of Queens commuters who cannot wait for the A to return so they can steer clear of crowded Q52 and Q53 buses which don't run overnight.

"It's starts fights at the bus. People are rushing to get the last bus at night, the first bus in the morning. It's a hard life living out there," said a Rockaways resident.

Rockaways residents who came to the April meeting of the New York City Transit Riders Council said they were disappointed with what they heard from MTA officials. But a spokesman for the agency said the plan is to get the A back on track to the Rockaways by the end of June.

"Pretty much anything metal out there needs work, and it's not just the rails that you see when you ride the train. It's the rooms full of signals and relay equipment, it's an astonishing amount of work to basically rebuild this railroad from scratch," said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg.

But until the A train is rolling again in the Rockaways, the long slog to and from work remains an aggravating fact of life in the wake of Sandy.

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