Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer hosted a town hall meeting in order to give frustrated residents a chance to rail against the MTA, focusing specifically on problems with the No. 7 train.
Close to 100 residents showed up at Sunnyside Community Services to voice their concerns at the January 11 meeting, with the MTA assembling what Van Bramer called an “army of officials.” These officials answered questions, defended themselves and explained the upcoming 11 weekend long complete shutdown of the No. 7, as well as the countless subway shutdowns to come over the course of the next five years.
Between January 21 and April 2, the No. 7 train will be on a hiatus every weekend starting at 11:30 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday morning.
The primary questions asked by Van Bramer were, “why 11 weeks, why now, why in the dead of winter, why is it so important and why is it taking so long?”
Joseph Leader, vice president and chief maintenance officer of the MTA, and Demetrius Crinchlow, assistant chief officer of the No 7 line, both cited water leaks, obsolete signals, silt and muck build up, rail repairs, concrete depletion and lack of workable space as just a few of the many problems plaguing the line.
In lieu of the No. 7 train, commuters will have to utilize the “E”, “F”, “R”, “Q” and “N” trains with increased service to get around, or the above ground option of shuttle service which will run frequently with buses every five minutes throughout the day.
The MTA’s main objective is to update the Steinway tubes with Communication Based Train Control (CBTC), a $500 million project which Crinchlow calls “the wave of the future.” Scheduled shutdowns for this project are predicted to continue up until 2018.
Although contentious at times, Van Bramer said that this meeting was an overall positive step forward.
“People are going to continue to be rightfully frustrated, but it’s important to give them the opportunity to speak to those in charge face to face,” he said. “I think we did make some progress tonight.”