NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials in Queens have called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to do more to help Long Island City businesses in the face of planned weekend shutdowns on the 7 line this year.

The MTA announced last month that it will shut down the line between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square for 13 weekends between the end of this month and July.

The authority said the shutdowns are necessary for maintenance and signal work.

Queens officials argue that halting the line for such an extended period of time will isolate residents in the neighborhood.

“‘It not only poses a problem for folks who live in Long Island City, but other folks from other neighborhoods, including parts of Manhattan, find it incredible difficult to get to Long Island City,” New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told 1010 WINS.

Van Bramer said the shutdown could also devastate small businesses in Long Island City. “One big weekend could make the difference between survival or going out of business. And in this case, the MTA is shutting down the 7 train for almost half of the weekends in the entire calendar year, which is an incredible hardship on our small business owners who are trying to make ends meet.”

The city councilman and other Queens officials met with MTA officials on Thursday to discuss ways in which the authority could help local businesses while the 7 line is down.

Van Bramer said he wants the MTA to subsidize East River ferry service to Manhattan and allow customers to use MetroCards while train service is down. He said ferry service would be just a few minutes door-to-door from Long Island City to Midtown and that it would only cost $4 a ride.

Officials also want the MTA to provide express bus service to and from Manhattan, a request that has been made before, as well as a campaign promoting Long Island City businesses while the line is halted.

“They can use their resources to have a robust, and meaningful marketing, and advertising campaign letting folks know that Long Island City is open for business when these weekend closures are taking place so that folks don’t feel like Long Island City is closed,” Van Bramer told 1010 WINS.

Additional closures are expected in the second half of 2014 as well.

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