April 21, 2015 By Christian Murray
Ridership of the No. 7 train at the Vernon-Jackson and Court Square stations continues to surge and the MTA plans to alleviate the problem through the addition of two trains per hour.
The MTA is currently working on a new communications system (known as CBTC) that will ultimately add two trains per hour—from 27 to 29 trains during rush hour, said MTA President Carmen Bianco at a town hall meeting in Hunters Point last year.
The MTA also told the state senate in 2009 that the CBTC system would bring two extra trains per hour–prior to construction.
“Relief of Overcrowding Service on the Flushing line is currently limited to 27 trains per hour…,” the MTA told the state senate (page 11). “The combination of CBTC and the 7 West extension will enable a service increase of two additional trains per hour, a 7% increase in capacity.”
The MTA didn’t answer Tuesday with any specificity whether the additional No. 7 trains would meet the growing demand. However, in a statement, the MTA said: “At least 2 trains per hour to start will bring in an extra 2,200 customers into Manhattan from Queens.”
However, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that the additional trains would not be enough. He said that the CBTC is “not a panacea and not a solution to all the problems,” adding that “it is just the tip of the iceberg of what is needed.”
The MTA released figures yesterday that weekday ridership at the Vernon-Jackson station in 2014 grew by 12%, or 1,500 customers per day, compared to 2013. Ridership also increased by nearly 10%, or 2,000 riders per day, at the Court Square station, which includes the E,G,M and 7 lines.
The number of riders who use the Vernon-Jackson station has more than doubled since 2000, the MTA reported, with all the residential development. Overall ridership throughout the subway system was the largest in 65 years—growing by 2.6 percent last year to 1.75 billion customers.
The MTA, in a press release that provided details about the increased No. 7 ridership, indicated that the CBTC would address the problem.
“The MTA is installing CBTC on the No. 7 line, which will allow more trains to run closer together, carrying more customers while also providing countdown clock information,” the press release read.
Van Bramer said that western Queens residents are too smart to rely on the MTA’s claims that the CBTC is the answer.
“I think 7 train riders are wildly skeptical of anything the MTA says and they are right because their experience informs them of the truth every single day,” Van Bramer said.
Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Gianaris said that the addition of two trains per hour to the No. 7 line will be inadequate.
However, he said, “It’s nice the MTA is finally acknowledging skyrocketing train ridership in Long Island City.”
“The 7 line is plagued by legendary service disruptions and weekend closures, and in recent months overall service has been the bane of western Queens’ existence,” Gianaris said.