A steady stream of calamitous events on the No. 7 subway line has driven two Sunnyside community activists to start a new blog and Facebook group, called 7 Train Blues that chronicles suspensions of service, delays and packed platforms. The latest stranding of a packed train beneath the East River which suspended service in both directions during Monday’s morning rush saw the membership in the Facebook group more than double.
“We went from 300 to over 700 members after Monday,” 7 Train Blues creator Melissa Orlando said. “I’ve been living in Sunnyside for the last 15 years and I’ve never seen it as bad as the last few months. The problems have become acute.”
The non-profit professional reached out to Ty Sullivan, a marketing executive who she knew from several neighborhood fund-raising events. He helped get the blog and Facebook group up and running.
“It was Melissa that came up with the whole thing. I just got the wheels running marketing-wise,” Sullivan said. “She was the original ‘this sucks - let’s make noise’ lady.”
Straphangers on the No. 7 have been subjected to regular disruption of weekend service for the last several years as the MTA makes needed repairs, which are part of its multimillion-dollar capital project. Monday’s incident took things to a different level.
More than 540 riders aboard a Manhattan-bound train became stranded when a contact shoe on one of the cars came in contact with the third rail at 8:33 a.m., creating a smoke condition, an agency spokeswoman said. A rescue train was sent to evacuate the riders and bring them to Grand Central Station.
Service was suspended in both directions until it resumed after 10 a.m. By then the damage was done to the morning commutes for thousands along the 7 line. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who railed against the MTA during a Sunnyside rally last month, resumed his attack Monday.
“Today’s catastrophic delays on the 7 line is just one more incident in a long line of horrific experiences Queens riders face almost every single day during rush hour,” he said. “Time and time again my constituents do not get the reliable service they pay for. These incidents are continuing to pile up and onto hardworking New Yorkers who rely heavily on the MTA to provide quality service.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) was livid.
“The 7 train nightmare continues,” he said. “We have been dealing with this for months already and this chapter is especially troubling, with riders trapped under the river for an extended period. The status quo on the 7 line is simply unacceptable and I will continue to push the MTA to drastically improve the 7 trains performance on a day-to-day basis.”
The MTA is still investigating the cause of Monday morning’s incident, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
“As subway ridership continues to rise, however, even the smallest incidents have the potential to disrupt travel for more and more of our customers,” he said. “That’s why the MTA is working intensely to improve the 7 line by repairing damage from Superstorm Sandy, replacing track panels on the elevated structure, and installing a modern signaling system that will allow more trains to run more closely together. While this work creates temporary inconveniences on nights and weekends, this short-term pain will bring long-term gain for customers all along the 7.”
Meanwhile, the conversation continues at 7 Train Blues as riders share their growing frustration.
“We’re not looking for any miracles, just some improvement,” Orlando said. “The impetus for starting the blog is to get the MTA to make improvements. How can the mayor talk about moving in 100,000 people to the Sunnyside Yards without addressing the inadequate infrastructure first?”
Gianaris agreed saying, “Anytime we talk about developing the Sunnyside Yards the stress on the infrastructure is always foremost on my mind because the 7 train can’t handle the capacity now.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
©2015 Community News Group
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