The 7 Train Comes
WITH 7 LINE FALLING APART IN QUEENS, MTA BOSS BYFORD
TELLS LIC THAT THERE ARE NO EASY, QUICK FIXES
www.qns.com I LIC COURIER I JUNE 2019 21
BY MARK HALLUM The phenomenon of falling debris
from the 7 train tracks in western
Queens continues to test MTA CEO
Andy Byford as the MTA struggles
between placing protective netting
and being able to actually see the underbelly of the
elevated tracks for inspection.
That was just part of the discussion at LaGuardia
Community College in Long Island City on June 10 as
transit officials answered questions from the public
on a catalog of concerns.
One public query centered around station renova-tions
similar to those completed on the N/W line that
could be undertaken at 7 train stations to prevent
debris from tumbling from the high-line tracks.
Byford said there are up to 60 miles of elevated
tracks in the entire system and renovating all run-down
stations along the 7 is not feasible at this time,
although the agency is aware of the most problematic
locations for decline.
Since elevated tracks are so extensive, Byford
claimed that netting could be infeasible despite
earlier claims that the MTA would move to deploy
the safety feature.
“What we need to do ultimately is renovate the
whole subway. There’s no question, there’s no sugar-coating
that and a lot of our structures are over 100
years old,” Byford said. “Some people say we should
put netting up. Well good, but we don’t want to rush
into doing the wrong thing. For starters, it’s going to
take time to fit all that … under 60 miles, it’s going
to be expensive, so we want to do it right. We also
don’t want to put a put up a system that poses a
new safety risk. Any system must give the inspec-tion
crews the ability to see what’s going below the
structure, it must also be robust enough.”
On June 3, after a piece of metal fell from the
line near 53rd Street, about 10 to 15 feet from a
pedestrian, New York City Transit said they would
deploy netting in some places to evaluate the ef-fectiveness
of deploying the method for widely for
This was not an isolated incident.
In February and March there were instances
where a wooden beam fell through the windshield
of an occupied vehicle and another car that got
struck by a chunk of metal. Nobody was injured in
either incident, but it happened again to another car
in Long Island City, followed by large bolt landing on
a woman’s car under the A train in Richmond Hill.
“We’re not the only system that struggles with
this issue and we’re not going to be able to tackle it
just as New York City alone, so we’re working with
other agencies throughout the country and the world
to learn more about what they’re doing in terms of
their elevated inspections. What they’re doing to
secure the underside,” said Senior Vice President of
Subways Sally Librera. “So we’re learning as we go.”
Byford prefaced the meeting by highlighting how
far the system has come in the two years since what
Governor Andrew Cuomo dubbed the “summer of
hell.” Widespread delays, service meltdowns and a
derailment at 125th Street in Harlem led to Cuomo
declaring a state of emergency for transit in the subway.
The worst of these issues overlapped with Amtrak,
which owns Penn Station, shutting down 20 percent
of Long Island Rail Road tracks in the station to ad-dress
of backlog of repairs.
To this, Byford attributed much of the improvement
to employee empowerment and the deployment of
Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) to re-place
century-old analog signals there were still in use.
Both the 7 train and the L have full deployment of
CBTC which means the Flushing line can now run 29
trains per hour over the previous 22. But Byford said
this capacity could be raised even further.
As consolation for the woes straphangers have
experienced over the years across the city, Byford
commented that the system is not irredeemable.
Not long ago, he noted, London’s underground was
in a similar state and brought up to modern standards
British commuters comparatively enjoy today.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
A Flushing-bound 7 train at
Queensboro Plaza Station.