SUNNYSIDE — Queens resident Tara Turtell recently waited on the 40th Street station platform for 45 minutes on a frigid morning, watching ten packed 7 trains come and go before she was able to fit on one herself.
"I got to work an hour late and, despite wearing gloves on a 15 degree morning, I couldn’t really feel my hands to email my boss that I would be late again because of the 7 train," said Turtell, 26.
"It's incredibly frustrating to have no idea how long your commute is going to take."
Turtell shared her story, along with other residents, during a rally on Wednesday morning held by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who's pushing the MTA to improve service, after receiving a slew of complaints from constituents about poor service on the 7 line including delays, service suspensions and packed cars and platforms.
One resident said he has resorted to taking cabs into Manhattan to get to work. Another said he walks from Sunnyside to take the E train in Queens Plaza instead, according to letters Van Bramer received from constituents.
"The level of service is disgraceful," Van Bramer said, saying 7 train riders not only endure regular weekend outages — scheduled so the MTA can make capital improvements on the line — but also deal with unreliable service on weekdays when trains are supposed to be running.
"The indignity of it all is that folks have no service on the weekends, then on a Monday morning get up on these platforms, whether it’s 69th Street to Vernon-Jackson, and the service is awful, abysmal," he said.
"I am outraged on behalf of my constiuents."
Frustrated riders also shared their horror stories with DNAinfo through the site and social media.
"Every damn day is a nightmare there's a signal problem or an 'investigation' delaying trains and causing huge crowds.... get it together MTA!!!!" Grace Eliza Pajuelo wrote in a comment on DNAinfo's Facebook page.
Commenter StanChaz turned to comedic relief.
"Worry not, my suffering fellow riders. There is a light at the end of the tunnel," StanChaz wrote. "No wait, that's a track fire. Sorry..."
In response to complaints, the MTA said it's spending millions to improve service and reliability on the line by performing much-needed repairs, which are the reason for the frequent weekend service suspensions.
These projects include updating the line's outdated signal system, replacing thousands of feet of old tracks and repairing the Steinway Tunnel between Queens and Manhattan, according to an MTA spokesman.
Recent disruptions include a day in February when ice on the third rail suspended service on the entire line for hours. On other days, there were delays because of signal issues, suspended service because of switch problems and a track fire last week that halted trains between Queens and Manhattan for 90 minutes.
Van Bramer demanded that the MTA release stats on how many delays, suspensions and service disruptions have taken place over the past four months, to which MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz replied, "We will be more than happy to look at the data, but what does that accomplish? To confirm what we already know?
"We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to our customers who depend on the 7 line and we appreciate their patience. The Councilman can’t take issue with service on the line and then complain when we are out there doing the work to improve the line. He can’t have it both ways."