The Metropolitan Transportation Authority blindsided Sunset Parker straphangers by offering negligible notice of the 53rd Street station’s impending six-month closure, say locals.
The agency posted only a few fliers — all in English — at the station less than a week before the March 27 shutter, and now local leaders are railing against the silent treatment.
“They did a shoddy job at communicating to our community — our diverse, immigrant community with multiple languages,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) at a press conference on March 23. “ ‘Do you know that the MTA’s station is closing?’ This is a question I’m asking people this morning and everyone is saying, ‘No.’ ”
What’s more, the agency isn’t beefing up bus service or offering shuttles to neighboring stations during the half-year lock-out — despite months of demands from those in-the-know — and riders are steamed about that, too.
“To be without a subway station is one thing, to be without direct access to the next is something else,” said Sunset Parker Melissa Delvalle. “Our bosses don’t care if the subway station is closed and will not have a problem firing someone if it happens one too many times.”
The station is the first of 31 stops getting new entrances, platforms, and countdown clocks under Gov. Cuomo’s scheme to give the city’s aging transit system a face-lift.
The project has been in the works for nearly a year, but the transit authority didn’t issue a press release with details about the closures until March 22 — five days before 53rd Street is set to shutter in both directions.
Earlier this week, workers taped two English-language fliers to the stop’s entrance rattling off a list of upgrades straphangers can look forward to once the station reopens this fall.
As always, readers of this paper were informed about the closure well in advance, and kept apprised of the latest developments.
But others are so confused, they’re looking to local bodegas for answers.
“People have been coming here asking what’s going on,” said Ahemed Suliman, who owns a Fourth Avenue deli beside a 53rd Street subway entrance.
The transit authority responded to the outcry by saying that it has been speaking about the closure with Menchaca’s staff and the local community board since January.
But locals say they expect the agency to keep them in the loop about service changes — as it has in the past.
“I lived in Sheepshead Bay before and when they did renovations, the MTA put signs all over the place in English, Spanish, Russian, Polish — everything,” said Suliman. “Here it’s nothing.”
Still, Menchaca and his staff plan to take it upon themselves to plaster the area with notices translated in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.
And they’re also demanding the transit authority organize a shuttle to neighboring 45th and 59th street stations come Monday.
“We want buses, we deserve that,” said Menchaca.