By Gabriel Rom

NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco has announced new measures to secure the A-train line in Howard Beach and improve the transit agency’s contingency plans.

He acted after a May security breach and infrastructure theft stranded commuters for hours and prompted a subsequent call for reform from state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach). Thousands of Rockaway commuters lost subway service because of a copper cable theft that left the A-train line completely shut down.

“The copper theft earlier this year exposed some truly alarming weaknesses in the transit system,” Goldfeder said. “I am pleased that NYC Transit has taken proactive steps to increase security measures along the A-Train and better prepare for future outages. I am hopeful that the system will be more reliable for our families and also hopefully deter future criminals from stealing vital infrastructure.”

In a letter to Goldfeder, Bianco wrote that the transit agency has re-secured three locations where holes were cut in the fence separating the A-Train tracks from the street near the Howard Beach-JFK Station. These holes, the agency contends, allowed individuals to gain access to steal copper cables and cut service to the line on the evening of May 26. To prevent future theft, the areas are now being closely monitored by transit personnel and the NYPD, Bianco said.

He also addressed Goldfeder’s criticism of the agency’s emergency shuttle service put in place to transport commuters during the morning rush hour following the theft. During the incident, NYC Transit shuttle buses were left idling in traffic lanes along Cross Bay Boulevard while waiting to pick up passengers, causing gridlock for motorists using the main thoroughfare out of Rockaway.

According to the letter, the agency said it has “learned from the traffic congestion.”

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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