Their social media network has over 3,500 members on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and offers real-time service updates.
“Anyone who is on the train can make updates, so riders are constantly changing information,” explained founder Melissa Orlando. “It's more accurate than the MTA and more timely.”
Orlando, the recent recipient of a Queens Impact Award presented by the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and Sunnyside Artists, says the overall goals for Access Queens haven't changed since its inception.
“Our long-term goals are to sustain and improve service, putting a focus on the customer, which the MTA is not doing,” she said. “On a short-term basis, we have a proposal for the MTA for solutions during the L Train shutdowns. There seems to be nothing in the works to mitigate the overcrowding with that.
“Based on the proposal that we submitted to them last year, they are holding a lot of public meetings,” continued Orlando. “Brooklyn is being addressed, but Queens is taking a backseat and not being given a priority.”
In their proposal, Access Queens offered five solutions to the suspension of the L Train Service for 15 months starting in the spring of 2019.
They include new bus options, additional free walking transfers in Queens and Brooklyn, extending the G train further into Queens, and leveraging street exits.
“There are 225,000 people who ride the L Train each day, and a good many will be shuttled up to the 7 Train,” added Brandon Mosely, creative director for Access Queens. “But there are also 11,000 new residential units being built in Long Island City by the time the L Train will be shut down.”
“The MTA's best guess is that 30 percent of the riders on the L Train are going to take an alternate subway route,” added Orlando. “The fact is that the 7 and the E trains are at capacity. Those platforms are already too full, and to add even 500 more people on the E platform is very dangerous.”
The group has had numerous meetings with politicians and transit agencies to raise awareness for improved transit services.
“We need the officials to put pressure on the mayor and the governor about the transportation crisis in this city,” said Orlando.
“The subway system is in such a state of disrepair that we certainly can use as many advocates we possible,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “We met and spoke over a lot of ideas. I think their solutions are very creative and we will be talking to the MTA about them. I especially like the transfer idea and expanding the G Train Line.”
“When the L train shuts down next year, many of those riders will rely on trains here,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “Like Access Queens, I am very worried about how residents of western Queens will be impacted.”