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Months-long escalator outages at Queens subway station frustrate commuters

Queens commuters frustrated by escalator outages at 74th Street-Broadway station
Queens commuters frustrated by escalator outages at 74th Street-Broadway station 02:13

NEW YORK - For months, the 7 line has been under construction at the 74th Street-Broadway station in Jackson Heights, which is part of a major transit hub in Queens.

The MTA is working to improve subway accessibility, but subway riders say setbacks have become the norm.

"I find myself scheduling things closer to home just because I expect that the elevators and escalators are going to be broken," said Ileen Park, a nurse and mother who often navigates with a stroller.

Three escalators at the station have been out of service since June 2023, causing detours, congestion and queues for the elevator.

The 74th Street-Broadway station connects to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station, forming a transit hub with connection to LaGuardia Airport. Thousands of passengers pass through each day.

Escalator outages come amid construction for MTA's "Improving the 7 Line" project, an effort to make stations from Manhattan to Flushing more efficient and accessible in the long term.

"It's just hypocrisy," inclusion advocate Nadia Holubnyczyj-Ortiz said.

While she believes updates are long overdue, she argues that riders deserve support such as a shuttle service amid construction.

"When you have a disability, oftentimes spontaneity is taken away. You have to plan everything," she said. "So when you have extended outages like this, it just really puts a wrench in the whole plan."

The MTA calls the construction essential and expects to have downed escalators back up and running sometime after April 1. Some lawmakers want a more specific timeline.

Congresswoman Grace Meng submitted an open letter to MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber regarding 74th Street-Broadway station. It reads in part: "We respectfully request an update on the escalators' replacement and urge the MTA to expedite the construction to relieve commuters of this burden."

The letter includes signatures from State Senator Jessica Ramos, Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Steven Raga, Council Member Shekar Krishnan and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz. 

"Folks have to get around, and I think we can absolutely do better, and we're going to demand that the MTA do better," Cruz said.

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