Maintenance on 7 train cancels weekend service between boroughs for 11 weeks
Straphangers won't see normal weekend service on the No. 7 train again until the spring as maintenance work will suspend trains between Manhattan and Queens for the next 11 weekends.
The MTA said the weekend shutdowns, beginning Saturday morning, are necessary for the agency to replace signals along the track to improve reliability and safety and reduce future maintenance. Long-term work on the more than 50-year-old tracks won't be finished until 2016.
"While we regret the inconvenience to our customers, this is work that must be done in order to improve the performance of this line," New York City Transit president Tom Prendergast said in a statement.
The agency is offering free shuttle buses between the Vernon-Jackson and Queensboro Plaza Stations.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said the MTA isn't doing enough to make up for the disruptions Queens residents and businesses owners have put up with "for decades."
"There's a real sense of frustration that the MTA has had to do this so many times for so many years," said Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside/Astoria). "It has really gotten people to a point of frustration that they haven't been to before."
"There are small businesses, restaurants and cultural institutions that will all suffer as a result from these service disruptions on the weekend," continued Van Bramer, adding that he has asked the agency to provide extra buses - including some that go into Manhattan - and consider pushing off the work until summer, when it's warmer and people are on vacation. He's even offered to foot some of the bill for extra service.
In response to Van Bramer's requests, an MTA spokeswoman argued that transferring at Queensboro Plaza to the N train is faster than sitting on a bus in traffic. She also said that while the agency would prefer to do work in the summer when there's more daylight, it would conflict with Mets games and the US Open.
Construction work will also affect 16 other lines this weekend.
Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja