Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Senator Brian Benjamin Herald Passage of Their Legislation Requiring Public Hearings before Subway Station Closures
Albany, NY – The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) may soon be required to hold public hearings before it temporarily shutters a subway station if Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and State Senator Brian Benjamin’s legislation, A.10179/S.8141-A, which passed both the Assembly and Senate today, is signed into law.
The bill, which would require the MTA to hold a public hearing in the affected community district within at least 30 days of a subway station closure lasting 90 days or longer, in cases other than emergencies, was introduced by the representatives after the MTA announced, with little public notice, that it would be closing four subway stations on the B/C lines between West 72nd Street and West 163rd Street for a period of six months. The abrupt announcement of these closures sent shockwaves through both Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Brian Benjamin’s constituencies, and newly displaced straphangers went scrambling for alternatives routes to school and work. The MTA had not initially planned to implement additional service on surrounding subway and bus lines to absorb the stranded B/C riders.
“New Yorkers rely on the subway system to get us where we need to go when we need to get there. Though the system is full of aging stations in desperate need of infrastructure work, the MTA does not get to bypass the needs of the riding public when it plans to make improvements,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF- Manhattan). “My constituents, and every straphanger, deserve an opportunity to be heard before the MTA closes a subway station for three months. Once this legislation is signed, it will ensure that every community citywide has its voice heard, and that viable contingency plans are implemented before a station goes dark.”
“On Monday, April 9, my colleagues and I stood at MTA stations to let members of our community know that the train they took to work and school each day would be closed for six months. We had found out just days before that many had not been warned. We promised then and there that we would fight to make sure this would not happen again. I am so pleased that Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and I were able to pass this legislation to make sure the community is notified well in advance when the MTA makes these sorts of decisions in the future,” said State Senator Brian Benjamin.
The four B/C subway stations, the first of which was closed in May, were closed without any input from the public or transit advocates. The MTA provided local community boards with little advanced notice, but declined to hold a public hearing. Prior to closing the stations, the MTA did not plan to increase the number of buses running along the affected subway routes or to increase service on subways running on parallel lines, to accommodate displaced riders.
“Every community in New York City has experienced the chaos that has been the transit system in a state of disrepair. As the MTA works to bring our system into the 21st century we have had to deal with the constant and long drawn out closures of facilities often with lack of notice or community input,” said Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, who represents the recently closed West 163rd Street station. “Understanding that repairs are necessary, this important piece of legislation brings a layer of transparency and accountability for the MTA in our communities through public hearings. I commend my colleagues for putting forth this critical legislation.”