Howard Beach, Queens – Amidst massive transit delays and gridlock due to disrupted A train service this morning between Howard Beach and Rockaway, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to immediately investigate alarming security breaches that reportedly allowed thieves to remove copper track wiring and cut service to the line. Goldfeder also blasted the agency for catastrophic breakdowns in contingency transit plans, including reports of buses blocking vital roadways and leaving thousands stranded during their rush hour commute.
“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway have some of the longest commute times in the entire city. On a normal day, our roads, trains and buses are stretched to capacity. Outages like this have devastating consequences for families simply trying to commute to work or school,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “I am alarmed by reported security breaches along the A train and the failure to put in place effective alternative travel plans for our families. I demand a full investigation by the MTA to ensure that this never happens again.”
In a strongly-worded letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast and follow up phone call, Goldfeder called on the agency to conduct an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the security breach that disrupted service for thousands of straphangers. According to the letter, the outage caused widespread delays for thousands of commuters in the community, with shuttle buses intended to aid commuters blocking multiple lanes along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards, adding to delays. The Assemblyman also wrote that the security breach poses serious questions about the security of the region’s transit infrastructure, pointing out the Howard Beach station’s proximity to John F. Kennedy Airport and the potential for terrorists to exploit this situation.
At around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, the MTA first reported service disruptions due to damaged power cables near the Howard Beach A Train station. Shortly thereafter, the agency confirmed in a news report posted to its website that the disruption was due to a security breach by thieves stealing valuable copper wiring used to supply power to the station. According to the MTA, this stranded train cars in the Rockaway Park yard, disrupting service to both the A and S trains servicing southern Queens and Rockaway.
As an alternative, limited shuttle service was implemented between 88th Street and Broad Channel, as well as limited northbound shuttle bus service between Broad Channel and Rockaway Boulevard in Queens. The MTA also directed commuters to existing bus service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. According to widespread reports, commuters faced 30-plus minute delays on the heavily-utilized Q53 bus between Woodside and Rockaway Park. Limited shuttle buses also reportedly blocked lanes of traffic at bus stations, extending travel times for motorists and causing bumper-to-bumper gridlock in the borough. In his letter to Prendergast, Goldfeder urged the agency to improve its contingency plans for the future.
Assemblyman Goldfeder has long advocated for improved transit options for families in southern Queens and Rockaway. This includes improvements to current subway and bus systems, immediate ferry service and reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line (RBRL), which until 1961 ran between Rockaway and Rego Park. According to a recent report by the MTA’s Transportation Reinvention Commission, reactivating underutilized rail rights-of-way like the RBRL would help improve resiliency by increasing alternative train routes in the event of disruptions like this morning’s incident.
“Our transit infrastructure in southern Queens and Rockaway can barely handle normal service, let alone a disaster like we saw this morning. Simply put, our families deserve better,” concluded Goldfeder.