Queens businesses fear 7 subway suspension may hurt profits

| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

File photo
File photo

No. 7 trains won’t run between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza for 13 consecutive weekends, starting on December 28.

Once more, western Queens business owners could potentially say goodbye to a profitable winter.

The No. 7 line weekend service between Queens and Manhattan is being suspended until the end of March, and many area business owners fear that this will affect the influx of customers they usually get.

The award-winning Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City is just one of the many organizations expecting a severe blow to their business this season.

“We [will be] unable to commission work, to present work,” said Sheila Lewandowski of the theater company. “If our audience can’t get here, what are we saying to our artists?”

The Chocolate Factory planned four shows for the coming winter months, and is expecting around 5,000 people to attend. They have artists coming in from all over the world, and, according to Lewandowski, artists who have been preparing for these shows for years.

“The No. 7 train is part of the ticket,” said Lewandowski, who fears that without the subway line, artists will have a difficult time getting to the theater, or that the number of attendees will significantly decrease.

Lewandowski also said that, had they been informed of the closures a month or two ago, shows could have been rescheduled. But, with the two weeks’ notice that the MTA gave, nothing can be done.

“Millions of people are disadvantaged and inconvenienced,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “The people of Queens are being disrespected.”

Until March 25, the MTA will be working on tunnel, signal and track maintenance in the Steinway Tunnel, which connects Queens to Manhattan, and will replace tracks between the Court Square and Queensboro Plaza stations.

Van Bramer held a press conference on Friday, December 28, the day that marked the beginning of the closures, in front of the bustling Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue train stop. He was joined by fellow Councilmember Peter Koo and area business owners, all protesting the MTA changes.

“If I seem a little angry, I am,” said Van Bramer. “Year after year this is too much to bear.”

In 2010, the No. 7 line was suspended for 12 weekends, and again for five weekends this past fall.

On December 8, Community Board 2 received a letter from the MTA, detailing the weekend closures. According to Van Bramer, there was no discussion or opportunity for input, simply a: “this is how it is, so deal with it.”

Going forward, the councilmember intends to work with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the rest of the Council to urge the MTA to change course, and also advises that residents sign an online petition, on the City Council website, and also protest via social media.

For alternate service, straphangers can use the E, F, N and Q lines. On Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Q will be extended to Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard. Additionally, free shuttle buses will operate between the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza stations during those weekends.

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

  • Mark Victor

    I don’t see what all of the complaining is about. The 7-train service suspension over the next several weekends will not terribly hurt Long Island city businesses and non-profit concerns. There are many transportation alternatives to the 7-train stops between Vernon-Jackson Station and Queensboro Plaza Station: Among them are the 21 Street Station (G-train) stop, only a few blocks from Vernon-Jackson, and the shuttle bus from Queensboro Plaza. The MTA has well-advertised this in the past, and I don’t forsee any change in that.

    Not mentioned in the article is that the MTA has had to reschedule a lot of capital projects due to the effects of Superstorm Sandy. Short notice of resumption of this major capital project should have been expected; this 7-train project is an ongoing one, and the MTA has made much of this fact in its postings, in stations, on trains, and online. Completing this project sooner rather than later will also result in safer, faster, more efficient travel — sooner rather than later. Don’t we all want that??

    I travel regularly to Clinton Hill from Astoria, and I have to adjust my commute every time the 7-train is out of service from Queensboro Plaza to Manhattan in order to get to the G-train at Court Square (a 5-minute walk from Queensboro Plaza!).

    This article is quite unbalanced and does not tell the whole story in a fair manner. The Editor of this paper needs to work harder at publishing news that is both informative and tells the full story — not just the part that unreasonable people want to hear.

    • restaurant owner

      Mr Victor- I can ASSURE you as a small business owner on Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City: The 7 train will hurt my business. This is a fact. We make most of our money on weekends. If someone has to choose between dealing with the 7 or just going somewhere else, they will most of the time choose to go somewhere else. Trust me, my business was hurt last year and so were many others. I am sorry you are being closed minded about this but just ask the people that own business in Hunters Point especially Vernon Blvd. they will tell you the same.

  • http://www.secrettheatre.com Richard Mazda

    Well Mr Victor sorry for complaining about multiple years of closures on weekends? I am one of those business people who HAS been regularly hit every single year. The G does not usually run to 21st or Court Sq on the weekends as true locals know. I suspect you are not local to the area and nor do you have a business. You are the person with an unbalanced view since you completely disregard the fact that a simple stroll in winter several blocks from either Vernon or even further 5th or Center Boulevard might be treacherous at this time of year?

    Further the Shuttle bus is a joke. The trip is short and yet the bus drivers appear to take a long break between each trip. Have you tried standing in the frigid air during winter waiting for this bus.

    You sound like an MTA apologist, your tone is dismissive of a communities genuine complaints and we know all about Hurricane Sandy in LIC thanks since several blocks were hit by flooding that was extremely severe [it was a surprise it didn't make the news]: Here’s a non exhaustive list of businesses/residents still affected: The Waterfront Crabhouse – still closed, Manducatis Rustica -10s of thousands of $$ lost basement completely flooded, LIC Bar knocked out from Oct thru and only re-opened late Nov, Evandro-Tech Motors wall fell down and crush several cars, LIC Kids new floor ruined, The Foundry devastated – residents still not back in their apartments.

    And lastly its over 3 MONTHS of stoppages not the next several weekends. Take your foot out of your mouth Mr Victor.