7 train subway fixes can’t wait, and Councilman Van Bramer wants an ‘emergency town hall’ in Queens

Queens commuters are sick of the 7 train.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Rep. Joseph Crowley held a rally Thursday morning outside the 40th Street-Lowery Street station after a series of bad rush-hour services and the continued delay of a project to install a modern signal system on the line.

“The truth is that the 7 train has been particularly bad for the last few weeks. I take the train almost every day — twice in the last week were massive delays in the p.m. rush from Grand Central,” Van Bramer said ahead of the rally. “And so service definitely, once again, has taken a dramatic plunge from what is normally a pretty shoddy service situation.”

Van Bramer said the officials would be calling for transit president Andy Byford to hold an “emergency town hall” in western Queens to discuss how the MTA plans to meet the November deadline for the installation of the signaling system, known as Communications-Based Train Control, or CBTC. The project has been delayed five times since 2011.

Byford had recently told The Wall Street Journal that he’d be open to additional service outages as a means to expedite the work.

“I think customers would prefer to rip the Band-Aid off and get on with it rather than have this slow creeping limp to the finish line,” Byford said.

Van Bramer said his district has been kept in the dark on MTA’s thinking regarding the project, and worries about potentially impactful service closures.

“[The MTA is] moving the goal line when it comes to CBTC. We don’t have a firm date yet again, and there’s no end in sight for the communities along the 7 train,” Van Bramer said. “Maybe there’s going to be some drastic movement to speed up the work, drastic service reductions or outages — I don’t know what [Byford’s] talking about. It would certainly be nice to know what he’s thinking there.”

Shams Tarek, an MTA spokesman, noted the authority’s recent outreach to officials and touted the benefits coming from a new two-year, $45 million project to repair and repaint structural steel along the elevated line between 72nd and 104th streets in Queens.

“MTA Chairman Lhota toured the 7 line with local elected officials including the Council member a few weeks ago, ahead of this week’s announcement that tens of millions of dollars are going to be spent to repair and paint the 7 line structure,” Tarek said in a statement. “Also this past month, Transit President Byford told MTA Board members that he’s very unhappy about delays and is aggressively pushing the contractor installing the brand-new signal system on the 7 line to work harder and complete the job sooner than the contractor’s new projection.”

Thales Transport and Security Inc., the contractor MTA blames for the signal project’s delays, did not respond to a request for comment.