Southeast Queens — the area of the city’s largest borough out beyond JFK Airport — currently sits in something of a transit dead zone. It’s served by subway lines on the north and south and has the AirTrain and LIRR tracks running through certain neighborhoods, but the rail transit options are not integrated in a way that promotes convenient or face commutes from the eastern edges of New York City into Manhattan’s Central Business District. While certain bus rapid transit/select bus service plans are on the table to address some Jamaica-area bus service improvements, rail options are rather mentioned by planners looking to improve access.
In an interesting and thorough piece at The Transport Politic, Yonah Freemark explores a few solutions to the Southeast Queens problem. He first proposes a city-subsidized fare for Long Island Rail Road that would keep intra-city travel costs the same as a MetroCard swipe. Doing so would allow for faster, better and cheaper commutes for residents in the Queens neighborhoods such as Rosedale and Queens Village that are serviced by LIRR but not New York City Transit. He then proposes a few additional stops in southeast Queens and urges a new Jamaica-to-Howard Beach AirTrain line that would serve as a connector between the A and E/J/Z with stops at Liberty Ave. and Linden and Archer Blvds.
Freemark’s plan is an interesting one in that it uses existing infrastructure and would require relatively low-cost investments by the city, state and MTA. For an area of New York City far from the job hubs of downtown Manhattan and long underserved by transit, implementing any aspect of this plan would go along way toward encouraging transit use in a car-heavy area of the city. [The Transport Politic]