Queens 7 train station catches LIRR overflow during summer of hell

With repair work at Penn Station expected to last for the next several weeks, LIRR commuters have a few alternatives for getting where they need to go. Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has more on one Queens subway stop that's suddenly a lot more popular.

The 7 train stop at Hunterspoint Avenue is usually a pretty sleepy station, with a little more than 7,000 riders, on average, using it on weekdays last year.

"I think there's room to walk," said one rider.

But with major repairs underway at Penn Station, the 7 train's second-closest stop to Manhattan is now a key and more congested transfer point for suburban commuters.

"People from Long Island, I rarely meet them," said another. "I just meet them here in this station."

"I've noticed a huge surge today," said one woman.

That's because three LIRR trains are being temporarily rerouted to the commuter railroad's stop that's just steps away from the 7's Hunterspoint Avenue station.

And even with free transfers into the subway for railroad riders during the morning rush it makes for a very different commute for some suburban riders.

"It's, uh, crowded, hot, uh, cranky," said one Long Islander.

Hunterspoint Avenue - along with Jamaica Station and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn - is one of three spots where commuter railroad riders can switch into the subway at no cost in the morning.

It also has two extra 7 trains on standby that can be brought in to help relieve congestion.

And as an option during the so-called "Summer of Hell," it comes with a recommendation from the new MTA Chairman.

"A lot of people decided to get off at Jamaica and get on the E train," said Chairman Joe Lhota. "I would ask them to seriously look at going into Hunterspoint instead of taking the E train, which takes a long time."

Any confusion over the commute is only temporary - Amtrak hopes to complete Penn Station repairs by September 1, allowing commuters to go on their way as they normally would.

But as with all things commuting this summer, riders on the 7 and on other subway lines say they will just have to learn to adjust.

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