The MTA's plan to ease the pain for LIRR commuters this summer is not sitting well with some in western Queens. They say the plan adds more passengers to the already overcrowded seven train line. NY1's Matt McClure filed the following report.
City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is not mincing words when it comes to his opinion on the MTA's plan for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders this summer.
“I think it is ridiculous,” he said.
This week, the agency announced it would cancel or divert close to three dozen rush hour trains into and out of Penn Station while Amtrak does emergency track work. That means more LIRR trains originating or terminating at stations in Brooklyn and Queens, including Hunterspoint Avenue in Long Island City. Passengers there would then either take a ferry or transfer to the 7 train.
“To take Long Island Rail Road users and divert them to the 7 train is stupid,” Van Bramer said. “We know the service is unreliable as it is.”
“We have already got heavy overcrowding issues and they are just lighting a fire under an already dangerous situation,” added Ty Sullivan, a Sunnyside resident.
Sullivan said that, a few days ago, he found himself walking in record heat because 7 train service was suspended. He said the MTA did not post an alert, so he went to the "7 Train Blues" Facebook page for updates from other passengers. Photos and videos of packed trains and platforms are regular occurrences on the site.
“Something that started as almost like a spoof site became an actual portal of on time, accurate information for the riders that the MTA is not providing for us,” Sullivan said.
Melissa Orlando founded "7 Train Blues" and then the transit advocacy group Access Queens in 2015.
“We wait three or four trains for someone to be able to get on,” she said. “To route people onto the 7 train really makes no sense.”
The MTA told NY1 buses and ferries will also provide alternate service in Western Queens. A spokesperson said “We anticipate approximately 500 additional riders coming to Hunters Point over a two hour peak period, a number that will be manageable during the summer when ridership is lightest.”
Despite that, residents say they do not see how the 7 could handle any more passengers at all, especially during peak hours.