MTA Promises to Promote Neighborhood that It’s Cutting Off Access To

MTA to promote locations made hard-to-reach by 7 train shutdowns. (farm3, flickr)

MTA to promote locations made hard-to-reach by 7 train shutdowns. (farm3, flickr)

In recompense for cutting off 7 train service to Long Island City for 13 weekends stretching from February to July, the MTA has promised to run an advertising campaign to promote the perpetually on-the-verge of breaking-through neighborhood, DNAinfo reports. However, the gesture is somewhat hollow given that even if the campaign inspires New Yorkers to visit, they’ll have a hard time doing so for the next five months.

The MTA is apparently willing to placate the neighborhood up to a point, with an advertising campaign of dubious utility, but is not willing to run a shuttle bus service connecting Long Island City to Midtown East, as elected officials had asked for. The work, part of a major capital project to replace the line’s signal system, also closed the line for thirteen weekends last year.

“Marketing — that is something we certainly plan on doing,” spokesman Kevin Ortiz told DNAinfo, describing the agency’s plan to collaborate with local businesses to “develop a robust marketing campaign, something along the lines of ‘Long Island City is open for business.’”

Of course, there are a number of subway lines that connect Long Island City to Manhattan and the rest of Queens, which has done much to augment the neighborhood’s allure for developers, but the 7 is the most direct line through the heart of Midtown and also the most accessible to the burgeoning enclave of Hunter’s Point. Additionally, the other lines—stations for the N, Q, R, E/M, G and the F (at 21st Street Queensbridge) do not provide easy access to all corners of the rather large neighborhood. Hunter’s Point, where many of the neighborhood’s restaurants and businesses, as well as Gantry Park, where the farmer’s market and new flea market will be located, is something of a schlep to the other lines, hence the community’s request that the MTA offer shuttle service.

For its part, the MTA told The Observer that there will be shuttle buses between the closed 7 Train stations and other lines; the shuttle to Midtown was “not a viable alternative,” said Mr. Ortiz, citing Midtown traffic delays and the need for many riders to take another train from Grand Central anyway.

Admittedly, marketing is probably significantly cheaper than operating a shuttle, particularly given that marketing is likely to take the form of subway posters, MetroCard decorations, brouchures or kiosk adornment, but it’s unclear exactly how inspiring subway riders will find advertisements for areas that are difficult to reach by subway. Particularly in a city where development has stalled along the East and Hudson Rivers for lack of good subway service, even though neither is much more than a 10 minute walk from the subway.

Thus far, locals have also failed to convince the MTA to subsidize the cost of the East River ferry during 7 train shutdowns. The MTA, however, has said that as the ferry is under the purview of the city and the EDC, any discount would need to be approved by them.

This story has been updated at 5:10 p.m. to include comment from the MTA.