Richard Mazda is expecting thousands of people this weekend – and he’s afraid his guests will have no way to get there.
You see, Mazda is the director of the first annual LIC Arts Open, a celebration of the arts community in Long Island City, which runs through Sunday, May 22.
But with MTA New York City Transit planning work to address a recent increase in signal-related delays on the No. 7 line between May 20 and 23, there will be no subway service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza.
“Thousands more people will be coming into the area,” mused Mazda, who noted that six years ago he started a business in the area – “and for six years I’ve been suffering every spring from the closures.”
“The suspension of No. 7 train service during the LIC Arts Open is yet another example of the MTA’s lack of consideration when scheduling necessary maintenance,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “The festival will provide a fun and educational opportunity to highlight the thriving Long Island City arts community. I only hope that the replacement shuttle bus service is sufficient to transport arts lovers to and from the festivities.”
But Deirdre K. Parker, MTA spokesperson, told The Courier that “the work really, really needs to be done. We really can’t keep putting this work off, waiting for things to break before we fix them.”
Parker pointed out that customers are encouraged to take the “E”, “N”, “R” or “F” service for travel between Queens and Manhattan. Free shuttle buses will be available between the Queensboro Plaza (“N”, 7) and Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue (7) stations, making stops at Queens Plaza (“E”, “R”), 45th Road-Court House Square (“E”, 7) and Hunters Point Avenue (7). In addition, the Grand Central (“S”) shuttle will continue operating through the overnight hours.
The delays that have compromised the line’s reliability over the past several months have been caused largely by an aging signal system and water-related issues in the “Steinway” tunnels under the East River between the Vernon-Jackson station in Long Island City and the Grand Central station in Manhattan. In March, maintenance forces performed emergency repairs that required a weekend service suspension between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza.
Aside from the upcoming weekend, two additional weekend service suspensions between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza have been scheduled to address this issue — June 24-27, and July 29-August 1.
And though both Mazda and Gianaris understand that the work needs to be done, neither is happy with the “ongoing problem” of the MTA “scheduling service disruptions without consulting the community.”
“It’s impeding the growth of the community when people see how difficult it is to get there,” said Gianaris.