From Queens, a call to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Branch


A schematic shows the Rockaway Beach Branch service from 1955 until it was shuttered in 1960. (Courtesy of Railfan.net)

Before Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to build a convention center in Ozone Park, Queens residents were gearing up to square off over a decommissioned bit of former LIRR tracks. Park advocates with some vague stirrings of NIMBYism wanted to turn the rail right-of-way into a park while rail advocates rightly objected. The convention center proposal, complete with a vow by the developer to fund transit to the area, has thrust this small section of rusted rail tracks back into the spotlight, and now the trail advocates are fighting back hard.

In The Daily News today, Carl Perrera, David Krulewitch and John Rozankowski put forward a compelling argument for reacativating the Rockaway Beach Branch line, and they put forward various solutions for such a reactivation. Krulewitch and Rozankowski are no strangers to this issue, and Perrera has been advocating for rail use for years. Now, they offer up this argument:

Some have suggested the revival of the JFK-Super Express service. Since there are more A trains running today than in the 1980s, a service conflict would be created and the needs of the convention center would not be met. Fortunately, there is a better alternative: the revival of the northern section of the old Long Island Rail Road Rockaway branch. The Regional Rail Working Group Rockaway Subcommittee and other transit advocates have studied this line and offer the following options:

The Railroad Option would have the LIRR resume operations between Penn Station and Aqueduct. Two stations would be built — at Rego Park and at Aqueduct. The latter would allow transfers to the A train and to the Air Train (if it were extended from Howard Beach). If rail cars are developed with the ability to operate on both lines, a one-seat ride from Midtown to JFK would be created.

The Subway Option would divert the M or R subway line east of 63rd Drive (via an already built connection) to the northern section of the Rockaway line. The subway would converge with the A train north of the Aqueduct Station and continue into the Rockaways. At Rego Park, two stations would be built, one for the subway and one for the LIRR mainline to permit transfers between the two services.

This would allow Rockaway riders a quick trip to Midtown or to eastern points in Long Island. Under both options, additional stations can be added after consultation with the affected communities.

The trio note that, if the MTA is not interested in such a proposal, the city could, as it has done with the 7 line, foot the bill since it is the legal owner of the right-of-way. In fact, for any rail development along the Rockaway Beach Branch to see the light of day, someone else — the city, the state or Genting — will indeed have to foot the bill.

Furthermore, the three authors parry with neighbors who claim a rail line would have a negative impact on their quality of life. Perhaps noise for a few would be an issue, but an electric train line would not impact pollution levels. Plus, the increased transit access would lead to a jump in property values as well.

They end with a call for a Rockaway Line Reactivation Task Force: “Does CB9 want to be the spoiler conducive to the inundation of Ozone Park with traffic, thus continuing transit misery for Rockaway riders and to block a chance to link Queens in an effective crosstown service? Or does CB9 prefer to be a good neighbor and support a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve mass transit for everyone’s benefit?” The choice, to me, is an easy one. If the state is going to build a convention center in Ozone Park, they must do everything right, and that includes rail access.

Categories : Queens

81 Responses to “From Queens, a call to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Branch”

  1. Berk32 says:

    “The Subway Option would divert the M or R subway line east of 63rd Drive (via an already built connection) to the northern section of the Rockaway line.”

    What existing subway connection?

    • There were provisions made when the IND Queens Blvd line was built to allow for such a connection. There isn’t any track but the tunnels are built to allow an easy extension.

      • vort says:

        No government construction project in NYC is ever easy.

        • Bill Reese says:

          Engineering novice, here.

          Guesstimating by Google Maps, you would have to drill a tunnel about 1,500 feet from the southern side of the LIRR tracks to the the eastern end of the Rego Park/63 Dr. station (where the existing spur is).

          It being central Long Island, the makeup of the ground would probably be softer, not the dense bedrock of Manhattan that the SAS had to drill through. There’s (barely) enough space on the south side of the LIRR tracks for a “launch box” for this drill.

          Not to say that tunneling through a densely populated metropolis is easy, but next to combating the inevitable NIMBYism associated with this project, this would be the most difficult part of the project.

          As for the stations on this Rego—Aqueduct extension:
          • Rego Park 63rd Drive (Transfer point)
          • 66 Avenue/Fleet Street
          • Metropolitan Avenue
          • Myrtle Avenue/Forest Park
          • Jamaica Avenue (Transfer to J/Z at 104 St.)???
          • Atlantic Avenue
          • 101st Avenue
          • Liberty Avenue
          • Convention Center (Terminal)

          Nevermind the question as to where we’d store all these trains…

          • AlexB says:

            They wouldn’t need a launch box. Because the Rockaway cutoff is at grade the Queens Blvd subway is shallow, it would have to be built cut and cover, excavated directly from above.

  2. Name says:

    I like the idea of having subway service down the Rockaway Branch. I don’t like the convention center very much and see it as Xanadu II.

  3. Adirondacker12800 says:

    If the state is going to build a convention center in Ozone Park, they must do everything right, and that includes rail access.

    The right thing to do is not build the convention center. Convention attendance has been going down for over a decade. It will open just in time for the downward spiral to collapse.

    • The most logical place for a convention center would be over the tracks at Sunnyside Yards. But you are right, convention centers are a total waste of tax payers money.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        But the taxpayer is not paying for this one. Right? Genting is footing the entire bill.

        • Andrew says:

          No, Genting is not a charity. Genting will only put money into something if it’s going to obtain even more money out of it. And convention centers don’t make enough money to pay for this sort of investment.

          I doubt any of this is going to come to fruition, but if it does, Genting has already spelled out what it will and will not pay for on the transportation front: “Genting will pay for upgrades to the Aqueduct subway station and for direct A-train service to take passengers from Fulton Street in Manhattan to the site—with a stop in downtown Brooklyn—in half the 35 minutes it takes now. The company won’t fund a new AirTrain spur from John F. Kennedy International Airport. It also will not pay for street upgrades.”
          (from Crain’s)

          (What Genting is proposing isn’t even possible! Skipping a few stops isn’t going to halve the travel time from Fulton Street.)

          • BrooklynBus says:

            I was replying to the statement that Genting was paying for the Convention Center. I never said anything about them paying for the Rockaway Line which would be nice if they did.

            You are so eager to criticize anything I write that you can’t even read my statements correctly.

            Of course they are not a charity. They are in it to make money and they are seeking citywide gambling rights without competition to do that.

            • R. Graham says:

              Everyone here is correct. Convention Centers are not money makers but the whole point is to combine the convention center with table gambling. Now that’s the key. If I’m some of the bigger conventions around the country. I’m booking at least two to three times a year if I know there will be people nearby.

              A lot of people don’t gamble but don’t mind being around the atmosphere at long as there is something for them to do besides gambling. Last time I checked Atlantic City didn’t have the best boardwalks in the tri-state area. But having the casinos right there is a huge help. Bringing some importance back to horse racing at the Aqueduct can’t hurt neither.

      • Alon Levy says:

        No. Sunnyside Yards is prime location for redevelopment. What belongs there is mid-rise mixed-use space, with as little parking as possible, with some higher-rise buildings near where the station should be. Building a single sprawled-out convention center, instead of zoning parts of that area for hotels and letting one of them host a large convention center if necessary, is a handout to developers and to the political career of whichever politician gets to put his name on this disaster. Don’t do that. The only thing that should be named after Cuomo is bits of decayed transit infrastructure that the MTA didn’t have money to fix.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Think I agree with Alon. I’m not even sure there is a good place for a convention center in NYC, but if there is, the airport is probably as good as any.

        Cuomo should have resigned after passing gay marriage. He’d have gone down in history as a good governor.

  4. John-2 says:

    The convention center is really only the bright, shiny bauble being dangled in front of the public. Genting’s real desire is a fast connection between midtown Manhattan and the Aqueduct racino, which they’re hoping the NYS Legislature and Gov. Cuomo will eventually approve full casino gambling for the site. That’s where the real money is to be made.

    That said, the op-ed is right that if Cuomo and Genting are hell-bent on building this thing, you cannot create a fast trip into midtown without either the creation of a new line, or sacrificing A express service on Fulton-Pitkin or cutting overall C service during rush hours to handle the super-express trains. The LIRR option is probably the best of the two, once East Side Access opens and there are enough available platforms at Grand Central and/or Penn Station to squeeze in new trains to the Big A, though the M/R option is viable, as long as they build a stop at Metropolitan east of Woodhaven to serve some of the same passengers currently using 67th Avenue on Queens Blvd (the split might also be the impetus to finally convert Woodhaven Blvd. into an express stop, so E/F riders could change there for the Rockaway Line trains, instead of jamming the already-overburdened Roosevelt Ave. station).

  5. marvin says:

    A better/more comprehensive solution would be to reactive the Rockaway Branch as part of the LIRR from Rego Park down to Conduit Blvd and then east along Belt Parkway (which has sufficiently wide shoulders to allow for ground level construction) to the Valley Stream Station. One or more LIRR stations could be built along the Belt.

    This would then allow for one of present track sets running from Jamaica to Valley Stream to be converted to Archer Avenue IND “E” train subway use without loosing the LIRR redundancy to Valley Stream. More capacity (due to turn around issues in Jamaica) and better service to southeast Queens would result. Congestion problems at the LIRR Jamaica station would also be eased.

    Given that under this plan, the the LIRR would not go down to the Howard Beach Station, I would extend the Airtrain up to the Aqueduct station (which would be a benefit to a conventions center) to allow transfer with this restored LIRR branch. (Alternately, the Airtrain could continue north as part of this new division.)

    • AlexB says:

      There’s already enough trackage that one of the LIRR lines rulling to Valley Stream could be converted to “E” service without hardly disrupting LIRR service. You don’t need a whole other line.

  6. Ben says:

    I hope, if they do build this connection as a subway connection, that they also consider at the very least a stop at Metropolitan Avenue as well (and possibly at Atlantic Avenue) in order to improve subway service in that area.

  7. Alek says:

    This is way off topic. I saw that for the Fastrack project on the B,D,F,M. There will be rerouting of the Q train. The Q will be running to 21st-Queensbridge instead of 57th st overnight. That is so cool! The E will run local both directions from Queens Plaza-71st ave to replace the M. The A/C will run express in both directions between 145th-Canal St while the D will run via 6th ave local.

  8. Hi there,
    Thanks for all the press. We are delighted to have the opportunity to write an op-ed for the Daily News.

    We are hoping for a reactivation of the line but what I suspect is a couple “not so great” improvements.

    The express-A train will be difficult because of the issues of bypassing all the stations in Brooklyn. Furthermore, a socioeconomic equity element of a train bypassing less desirable neighbhoroods makes that plan even harder.

    Another idea floated out would be sending all C’s to Lefferts and sending half the A’s to Rockaway Park and the other half to Far Rock. This would be a modest improvement, but not the kind of breakthrough we are hoping for.

    I still think the best way to improve service here would be to send a train from the IND Queens Blvd line, maybe the R (look at 1950 board of transportation plan) that would really improve intra-queens transit. It would also link rockaway/howard beach/ozone park commuters to emerging job centers of Kew Gardens, Flushing, and Jamaica. People seem to obsess on the speedy connections to Manhattan, whereas most of the job growth in NYC in the next 50 years will be in these new nodes outside of the Midtown and Downtown CDBs.


    • SEAN says:

      Hi David,

      I see what you are getting at, but the NIMBY factor needs to be adressed head on before it gets bogged down in the courts by ill informed citizens who have no clue what they are talking about.

      To adress the convention center discussion – the convention center by it self is a bad idea, but if it is tied to redevelopment of the Aquaduct racino, then you may have something there. In that case a reactivation of the dorment rail line is a must.

      Keep in mind several states especially Pennsylvania are becomeing adicted to gambling revenue to ballence there budgets. That is part of the reason why this convention center proposal even exists in the first place.

    • Alon Levy says:

      The problem with the A/C bit is that the stations in the Rockaways have exceedingly low ridership, and don’t really need this service doubling. In contrast, Lefferts, which is more patronized, would see worse service – frequency would go up a bit, but it’d be a local, and transferring to the express would add a few minutes of transfer and waiting penalty.

      • BrooklynBus says:

        They have low ridership because the trip to midtown is exceedingly long. Many take express bus instead which is very costly to operate.

        Also, if the Rockaway line is not reactivated, DOT will propose th alternative to accomplish the same connection by bringing SBS to Woodhaven Blvd. Removing a lane of traffic woud be a disaster there. Woodhaven now is the only sensible alternative to the overcrowded Van Wyck. Bus riders would save like 5 minutes since traffic usually moves pretty well there now, but others stand to lose 20 minutes if a lane is taken for a bus that woud run once every five minutes or so.

        Reactivation of the Rockaway line is the best way to speed commutes for Rockaway and Ozone Park residents without inconveniencing anyone else.

      • j.b. diGriz says:

        In NYC where housing is unnecessarily expensive and the population is slated to rise by most of a million in the next 20 years, when it comes to less-dense area like Rockaway, Ozone Park and Howard Beach, you build out transit for the future potential utilization, not current demand. Building for current demand is how we got to where we are now over the past 50 years.

    • Stu Sutcliffe says:

      Wouldn’t people in Southeast, Eastern and Northeast Queens – who don’t have a subway – object to the amount of money being spent to rebuild the Rockaway Beach Line (and let’s get real here – the whole line would have to be rebuilt. How much maintenance has it had since the 1960s?) while nothing is done to extend subway service to their communities?

      • Alon Levy says:

        The problem is that those other areas of Queens don’t have good grade-separated ROWs for rail. The Triboro RX route is intact and should be given subway service first, and Lower Montauk would also be very good if it were connected to Manhattan somehow, but there aren’t other places.

        A lot of people are radically overestimating the cost of restoring an intact ROW. Most of the cost of any transportation project is the physical infrastructure: ROW formation, viaducts, tunnels, grade separations. Clearing a route of trees and bus parking is cheap.

        • jim says:

          There’s some washouts in places and little league ballfield encroachments are very hard to displace.

        • Stu Sutcliffe says:

          The Southeast Queens line could have used the LIRR’s Far Rockaway line or adjacent land; talk has gone on of linking the Flushing and Port Washington lines for close to a century.

    • Andrew says:

      Sending the C to Lefferts would dump a local service on the 11,000+ daily weekday riders of the Lefferts branch – far more than board at Aqueduct (or Howard Beach). I don’t see that as a good solution, and Rockaways ridership is quite light. (The busiest Rockaway station, Far Rockaway, has under 5,000 weekday riders, and the entire Rockaway Park branch has just over 2,000.)

      Hooking the line into the Queens Blvd. local would improve intra-Queens transit to some degree, but is there really enough demand for intra-Queens transit along that particular corridor? The reason the subway is Manhattan-oriented is that Manhattan has an incredibly high density of jobs – almost every employer in Manhattan is within half a mile of a subway station. That isn’t the case outside Manhattan. Parking is also a lot easier at most non-Manhattan work sites than in Manhattan. I’m not sure that a non-Manhattan-oriented subway line will draw enough of a crowd to be justifiable. And connecting the line to the Queens local certainly wouldn’t draw much of a Manhattan-bound crowd, since the existing A would be faster.

      • ajedrez says:

        It would probably get decent ridership. I think the Q11/21/53 combined (the Woodhaven Blvd routes) get something like 20,000 riders per day. Not much by NYC standards, but it’s decent ridership.

        • Andrew says:

          That includes local traffic that wouldn’t be served by the subway, as well as ridership south of Howard Beach.

          I’m not dismissing the idea, but I’m not convinced the numbers are there.

  9. Steve says:

    Okay, so I finally understand then that there is a connection that would allow the Queens Blvd line to hook up to the Rockaway Branch and go all the way across Queens to the Rockaways. I hadn’t fully understood that possibility but wow, that would be awesome! I definitely think this would be great! I would love for them to make this happen. Queens needs a subway that goes across the the borough and this would help transporting people from all over Queens. I think it’s terrible that it’s so difficult to travel within Queens by subway because of the lack of subways and connections and this would help so much since people on the A line could transfer to the M or R and get to the Queens Blvd lines and even then be able to transfer to the 7 or N or Q without having to take buses! I definitely support this decision and hope somehow it gets done!

    • Stu Sutcliffe says:

      The connection is not all the way to the LIRR from Queens Boulevard. You’d have to dio a lot of tunneling through a heavily populated part of Rego Park.

      • AlexB says:

        You’d have to some a little tunneling, not a lot.

        • Stu Sutcliffe says:

          The railroad is not as close to Queens Boulevard as it is in Forest Hills. The tunnel away from the subway isn’t very long. You would have the same issues, albeit on a smaller scale, as exists now on2nd Avenue. On top of that, is tere track capacity on Queens Boulevard? Wouldn’t this result in taking service away from the communities past Rego Park?

          • AlexB says:

            It looks like the railroad is 5 blocks away from the subway. Because the railroad is at grade and the Queens Blvd line is shallow, you’d have to dig up a street to build this. The connection could not be bored. You’d have much more disruption than second avenue, but for a very contained area.

  10. Tsuyoshi says:

    Hmm… if the real point of this is to have train service going to a casino, why not just build a casino next to an existing, uncrowded subway line? Put it next to the J. Or hell, replace Javits with a casino.

  11. marvin says:

    As stated by others – eastern Queens/Nassau county will not stand for loosing service (or having it converted to local service) to 179th Street(F) or Jamaica Center(E). To have the Rockaway Branch run as a Queens Blvd local defeats the desire for fast service to Manhattan and (less significant) takes away from service at 67th and 71/Continental.

    The solution is to convert the Atlantic Avenue Branch of the LIRR to subway service (perhaps extended down through S/E Queens) with a new tunnel and connections in Manhattan. Given this new express subway service, converting the E train to a local may be politically doable, and the Rockaway Branch could then use half of the express track capacity on Queen Blvd.

    Conversion to subway service on the Atantic Ave LIRR would increase the passengers per hour served on this line and would be a shot in the arm for down town redevelopement.

    Two remaining issues would be whether a hybrid airtrain vehicle could provide direct service to Kennedy and how if so, how to reconfigure Air Train Fare collection to allow to fare/premium fare collection for this airport service.

    • jim says:

      Back a decade or so ago, there was a study to connect JFK to Lower Manhattan. One of the options studied was to convert the LIRR Atlantic Branch to subway and connect from Atlantic Terminal via a short length of tunnel to the Montague St. tunnel into Lower Manhattan. In the event, they decided to keep it commuter rail and dig a new tunnel. Costs kept mounting and eventually, when the cost hit $10B, the idea was abandoned.

      It might now be time to revive that idea. The Montague St. tunnel is massively underused: only the R train now runs through it (the M got rerouted through the Christie St. Cut). It connects with the BMT Broadway Line, which will eventually connect to the Second Avenue Subway. There is a station at Cortlandt St. right by the PATH terminal. LIRR will, once ESA is operative, no longer run trains from east of Jamaica into Brooklyn: there will simply be a shuttle service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal. If there’s room at Woodhaven to connect the Atlantic Branch with the end of the Rockaway Cutoff, then a fairly express service could be created taking people from the upper east side, through midtown, through downtown with a PATH connection, through downtown Brooklyn to the new Convention Center for the price of a swipe.

      The capital costs are low: the connection in downtown Brooklyn from Atlantic Terminal into the local tracks on the 4th Ave Line, a connection from the Atlantic Branch into the Rockaway Cutoff where they cross at Woodhaven, rehabilitation of the Rockaway Cutoff between that crossing and the Convention Center, resignaling and maybe repowering the Atlantic Branch to NYCT standards and a bunch of faregates.

      • AlexB says:

        The second ave subway is not currently planned to connect with the Montague tunnel or the Nassau (J) line

        • jim says:

          The SAS is supposed to connect to the Broadway BMT line, so the Q trains can run along it. The Broadway BMT line splits at Canal St. The express Q runs over the Manhattan Bridge and the local R continues south to City Hall and Whitehall St. running through the Montague St. tunnel into downtown Brooklyn. The R then rejoins the express Q (and a bunch of other Manhattan Bridge lines) at Dekalb Ave and again diverges to run local down the BMT 4th Ave line where it comes within a few hundred feet of the end of the Atlantic Branch (a level or so lower).

          • Andrew says:

            SAS will connect to the express tracks, not the local tracks, so your proposal isn’t feasible. It could be modified: keep the Q as planned (SAS-bridge-Brighton) and extend the W, which will be reborn when SAS opens to serve as the second Astoria service, into Brooklyn as you suggest.

            But your proposed connection in Brooklyn would be massively expensive. And, perhaps more importantly, the A would still be faster! The R has a slow, twisty route through lower Manhattan, and the A has a more direct route from lower Manhattan to Aqueduct.

            So this wouldn’t accomplish much except to burn money.

            • jim says:

              There are crossovers between the local and express tracks just south of Prince St. The N uses them to cross between the local and express. A new SAS service (let’s call it the T, since Phase 3 of the SAS is so far out you need the Hubble to see it) could use them to cross the other way.

              The Brooklyn connection wouldn’t be that expensive. It’s extending a pair of tracks across Hanson Place. It would be a lot cheaper than connecting the Rockaway Cutoff into the Queens Boulevard Line.

              The R winds through Lower Manhattan, but that’s a feature, not a bug. Conventioneers are going to want to come to Manhattan to sightsee: Wall Street and the Memorial are along the R route. More importantly, Upper East Side residents often work downtown and the closest the currently planned SAS gets them on a one-seat ride is Canal St. Plus the Jamaica shuttle to Atlantic Terminal could be extended to Whitehall St. (which is set up to short turn trains), providing a Lower Manhattan to AirTrain connection.

              The A is faster from Canal St. to downtown Brooklyn, but slower within Brooklyn. Probably a wash.

              In any case, since Genting isn’t going to pay for anything, it’s all moot. There won’t be additional transit to the Convention Center. People who work there will take the A. Conventioneers will stay at the site (which is probably what Genting wants).

      • JonB says:

        There used to be a trackway connecting the IRT inbound local track to a track in the Flatbush Ave LIRR station. I don’t know if rail was ever laid there, although there are rumors August Belmont would sometimes run a private car via the subway and that connection to his home on LI. It was still partly visible 20-25 years ago, but it’s been built over by the ticket office and the new station.



    • Jeff says:

      The Atlantic Line more or less duplicates the Fulton Street line and converting it into a subway would be affecting the LIRR riders who actually use that line to get to Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, and not to mention be completely redundant with a subway line mere blocks away.

      • jim says:

        Actually it wouldn’t much affect the LIRR riders, since they’d have to transfer at Jamaica anyway. It wouldn’t much matter whether they transfer to another LIRR train or to an NYCT train.

        The alternative is to keep the Atlantic Branch as commuter rail, build a connection at Woodhaven between the Atlantic Branch and the section of the Rockaway cutoff between Woodhaven and the Convention Center, rehabilitate just that section and have LIRR run a shuttle between the Convention Center and Atlantic Terminal. Once conventioneers are in downtown Brooklyn, there’s lots of options to get them elsewhere in the city.

      • jim says:

        So I took a look on google. Where the connection between the Atlantic Branch and the Rockaway Cutoff used to be is still there and used by the City for school bus parking. So the connection is very feasible. There’d need to be a turnout installed on the Atlantic Branch around 96th St. There’s approximately half a mile of right of way would need to be rehabilitated between Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Blvd. where the A train comes in. It seems to me that the costs of building the interlocking and rehabilitating half a mile could reasonably be put on Genting. As could rebuilding the Aqueduct station to provide facilities for short turning trains.

        If the Atlantic Branch is converted to subway then the existing A service could continue past Aqueduct. The cheap option is then two shuttle services from Atlantic Terminal, to Jamaica and to Aqueduct, each just stopping at Nostrand Avenue and East New York. Those don’t duplicate the parallel Fulton St. Line, since they’re much more express. Reconstruct fare control at the Atlantic Ave. stations so that the Atlantic Branch is included.

        • Bill Reese says:

          I think we’re forgetting that the LIRR access to Atlantic Terminal is a key selling point of the Barclays Center. They’ll want the arena to still be accessible by the LIRR. “They” being Ratner and the Nyets who fought the NIMBY’s and won.

    • Al D says:

      Removing the R and adding back the G to 71 Conti would increase service to nearly all of QB. People at 71 Conti take the E & F by en large, and that leaves 67th as 1 stop with less service (unless the G is extended).

      • Eric says:

        This is actually a great point. Turn the R around at 57th and you’ve in effect doubled R service without doing a thing, and you make everyone living off the G much happier.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Everyone? I usually avoid these extend the G pontifications, but just how many G users had any interest in going to Queens Boulevard (or from Queens Boulevard to the current G service range)?

          • AlexB says:

            It’s true. More people use the current R or M trains along the Queens Blvd local than ever used the G. People want to go to Manhattan more.

            • Lee Zakow says:

              And you know this how? Obviously, you haven’t been to Greenpoint/Williamnsburg recently. We are S C R E W E D when it comes to mass transit.

              • Shawn says:

                Hipsters usually have cars or cab money, I feel bad for the original residents who’ve actually lived there for years…

              • Bolwerk says:

                And chances are the vast majority of you aren’t remotely helped by the prospect of the G going to Queens Boulevard either. If you’re like most residents of those areas, you depend on the G or bus service to take you to probably the L or 7 to get to Manhattan.

                If that is so terrible, I don’t see why people would move to Greenpoint. As is, at best, it has nearly Williamsburg prices with Bed Stuy amenities.

                • Lee says:

                  What we need, and I will say this again, is a new subway station at Queens Plaza for the G. This terminus can be expanded to meet with the Montauk Branch.

                  I’m not a hipster and I don’t have money for cabs and neither do a lot of people who have moved into the neighborhood. G service is pitiful. And neighborhood patterns have changed. Get on the L train sometime and see how many folks get off at Bedford Avenue on a Saturday night as opposed to going into the City. Have you seen the nightlife on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens recently? I know plenty of folks who go to Queens rather than the City.

                  • Evan says:

                    May I ask what nightlife you’re talking about on Roosevelt?

                    I go there on a semi-regular basis, but have never been there on a weekend night and I don’t know what you are talking about.

  12. Scott E says:

    A cousin of mine returning home to California after a visit to New York had this to say on her Facebook page today: “San Diego should build an AirTrain to the airport. It’s quite convenient.”

    Apparently, the current system works just fine in the eyes of those who have even less.

    • petey says:

      yes i was wondering why another route to JFK was wanted, with the new and quite successful AitTrain in operation. so ignoring that, it’s a route to the convention center, but the convention center is a loony idea; or to aqueduct and its casino, which makes some sense; or to increase transit availability in that area, which is a very good reason. perhaps the planners whould focus on that last one?

  13. Anon says:

    OT: Did you notice MTA posted all it committee/board meetings on Youtube last week?

  14. Ian says:

    At this point, what we need to determine the best future use of the old Rockaway Beach Branch line is a feasibility study/cost analysis. A lot of great ideas are sprouting up on reviving this line for a good purpose, be it as a “rail trail” or some form of rail transit. However, having lay fallow since the late 1950s, I am curious to know just how much it will cost to restore this right-of-way for adequate, safe transit service.

    I must imagine the costs for restoring rail service would be very substantial between rail repair/maintenance, environmental cleanup and station construction/rehab. Not to mention, we are much more stringent now compared to fifty years ago when it comes to transit development (for largely good, environmental and safety purposes). Then we must consider who will foot the bill, and let’s be honest, the gov’t budgetary picture isn’t going to radically improve in the next few years.

    There is also the question of what financial benefit this will provide in terms of increased ridership. I see two primary benefits of reviving rail service on the Rockaway Beach branch – increased connectivity between Woodhaven/Richmond Hill/Ozone Park and Western/Central Qns, and expedited travel between southern Queens and midtown Manhattan. Despite these improvements, in all likelihood, it will still be a lengthy ride from southern Queens.

    With respect to the convention center, I believe one reason why Acqueduct Racetrack was considered is its proximity to JFK. Being located near the Van Wyck also eases travel from LGA.

    I am all for reviving an underutilized public asset to better serve the needs of surrounding communities. Yet, we must not kid ourselves into thinking that the best idea on paper can be initiated in an expedient, cost effective manner. In other words, let’s not have the perfect be the enemy of the very good.

    That said, I have an idea, that while not perfect by any means, can help improve accessibility to/from southern Queens: Select Bus Service on the multi-lane monolith that is Woodhaven Boulevard.

    • Alon Levy says:

      I don’t want to think about how much it’ll cost. Whatever figure comes out will be depressingly high. But it’ll be depressingly high relative to the costs of restoring intact above-ground ROWs ($1 million per kilometer in Germany, $3-5 million in New Jersey and Pennsylvania), rather than relative to the cost of building greenfield on-street light rail ($10-50 million per kilometer) or that of building a subway ($100-300 million per kilometer).

  15. JB says:

    Does anyone have a trackmap that shows this bellmouth on Queens Blvd? subway.org doesn’t show it (along with many others)

    On a side note, i was on a downtown Q this morning, and after the dip and turn into the Canal Street station, i noticed out the window that there seems to be another bellmouth (maybe even tunnel) that would suggest the line coming off the bridge would also have been able to connect southbound express tracks…not really sure, but there definitely was something there. Anyone have a resource that can show these bellmouths? subway.org stated that the line intitially was to go crosstown rather than rising up to its current configuration, but from what i saw, it looks like it hooks south…

    • Evan says:

      You may have seen the tunnels that used to lead to the BMT Nassau St. Line, and Chambers St.

      Before 1967, the Manhattan Bridge used to be all BMT, with two tracks leading to the BMT Broadway Line (just as it is today) and two tracks turning south and leading to the Chambers St mega-station along Nassau St and back into Brooklyn as a loop service of sorts.

      In 1967, in order to allow IND Sixth Avenue expresses to continue into Brooklyn, the less used of the services (service to Chambers St. and points south) was canceled, its tracks disconnected, and the area reconfigured to how it is today.

      Of course, there have been so many plans and provisions made that it could be something else, but in my opinion it’s most likely what I said above.

  16. Michael says:

    NYC has an extensive network of unused rail right-or-ways that should be revived as either Light rail, heavy rail or commuter lines.

    Examples such as the Bay Ridge Branch (triboro rx), and the Rockaway Beach Branch provide the city with existing places where new track, upgrades to bridges and stations could cheaply and massively expand the NYC transit system. Service on these lines could be provided by Light, heavy or commuter rail.

    As for the Rockaway Beach Branch, the city and LIRR should take this opportunity to rebuild the connections to both the main line at rigo park and the Atlantic Ave branch, and provide service to Aqueduct with a future spur into JFK to one of the central terminal Airtrain Stations.

    With an LIRR connections directly from Penn Station/Grand Central/Jamaica and Atlantic Avenue, a true Airport express could be operated. If the extension is built with overhead catenary also, Amtrak, metro north and NJ Transit could also provide direct links to JFK. As the service could be faster than the subway and directly into the airport, a premium could reasonably be charged. Similar services to Heathrow and Gatwick in the UK cost £19 ($30). I’m sure New Yorkers would pay $10 or more for express airport service.

    Also, rebuilding the standard electric rail infrastructure in NY would allow a more flexible train service that could also serve as an ultra express between key points in and around the city such as Jamaica, Penn Station, Grand Central, Secaucus Junction, Hoboken, Newark, Atlantic Terminal, Yankee Stadium and locations up in the bronx and westchester.

  17. Lee Zakow says:

    Really, do we need a convention center in Ozone park? Now if a new arena for the Islanders is built there, and transit is updated to make commuting to the arena convenient, then I can see building a convention center as part of an arena complex.

    I don’t understand why the Montauk branch would not be used. Think about it. A new station is built adjacent to Queens Plaza for the G and say the R (and yes there is plenty of land to make this happen). Then, the R travels through a new tunnel to the Montauk line, where it goes express to the airport (if I do remember correctly, there is a connection to the Rockaway line from the Montauk line). So now you have an arena for the Ilsanders, better transit for G riders and a subway from Manhattan to the airport. Not bad.

    • Alon Levy says:

      The only place the Islanders will take transit to is Manhattan, and maybe Downtown Brooklyn. Jamaica would work iff it were massively upzoned and parking-restricted and LIRR service were beefed up.

    • Jeff says:

      Sorry, but I’d say we need a new convention center more than we need yet another new arena to be built in the area. As if the FIVE we have aren’t enough as it is.

      • Lee says:

        Wait a second.

        The Barclays Center was built for basketball. The configuration for hockey is just horrible. I can’t stand the Islanders (no Rangers fan can), but where would you have them play? The Nassau Coliseum is a joke. The Lighthouse project will never be funded. You’d rather have the team move to Kansas City, Houston or Quebec City? I’d rather see the Isles play at the Big A, and bring with it the transit development that area needs. Maybe if you are a fan and live in Suffolk, it would be a long commute. But think about it. The LIRR would see extra revenue from expanded train service into Jamaica. So would the MTA.

        I think its win-win and if a casino was built as part of the complex, then there is 24/7/365 activity in the area. That would be a boost to the economy.

  18. 3ddie says:

    I just walked by the mall and I imagined there being a train station on the South East corner (nestled between the LIE and the corner).
    It would be awesome! We need this, if we only had some leadership!

  19. Bill Fleming says:

    There is a Covenant that forbids the reactivation of the Branch that was enacted when a High Rise Apartment Building was built near where it passes over Union Turnpike. The Owners of the Apartment Building screamed about this agreement when they wanted to reactivate the tracks in the 80’s

    • M. Riccardelli says:

      Hmm… Intriguing. If it’s the building(s) I’m thinking of, the Forest View Crescent apartments, then the City could negotiate their way out of that clause, if they wanted. Those co-ops are in debt to the City for about a million in backed property taxes, and nobody can buy (unless in cash) since banks won’t approve mortgages due to the building’s financial condition.

      I say let them scream, they don’t have a leg to stand on with the City, their occupants, or potential buyers. Adding a station nearby wouldn’t hurt those buildings, either, since they’re not exactly convenient to anything.

  20. Karen says:

    Is there any way the A train can change tracks at broadway junction station, and run on the L line express into manhattan? Im not an expert but i think this may be an easier/cheaper solution to both access to the Racino/converntion center/JFK from Manhattan, and faster commuting for rockaway and southern queens residents into manhattan. Why not run the A-Rockaway beach line to Rocakway boulevard (which it does now allowing for A-lefferts transfers), next stop broadway junction (allows C,J,Z trasnfers), then it runs on the L line tracks express. it would then stop at Myrtle Wychoff (allows M transers), then stop at Lorimer (allows G transfer) then all stops in Manhattan (connecting it to every single line in Manhattan!!!!) In this scenatrio, folks can travel between bklyn/qns easier, it would also provide for a quicker commute into midtown manhattan with connections uptown/downtown on both the east and west side, and allow better/faster access to Aqueduct. Its 12 stops from Rocakway Beach to manahttan. And From midtown manhattan west to JFK/Aqueduct, it would 11 stops. What do you think??? possible??

  21. Claire B. says:

    I’ve lived in New York for years, and have only been out to Rockaway Beach a few times when I lived in Manhattan. Since moving to Queens, nada! It just seems to me that if some (any) way is possible, in this crowded city (all boroughs), to give people better, faster transportation for commuting, access to beaches, redevelopment and reviving of neighborhoods, new small businesses, entertainment facilities and such, that’s the way to go for a liveable city! For myself, I’m primarily looking forward to riding out to the Rockaways with my guitar, singing an adjusted version of the Rock Island Line song: “The Rockaway Line is a mighty good road. Yes, the Rockaway Line is the road to ride. Oh, the Rockaway Line is a mighty good road. And if you ride it, got to ride it like you find it, get your ticket at the station for the Rockaway Line.” It could be the theme song for all those who’ll look forward to riding the line, such as it is: bullet train, monorail, steam train, trolley, to get where they want to go—tourists or commuters.


  1. […] and with transportation improvements as well, Queens transit advocates had hoped for the best. With dreams of the Rockaway Beach Branch dancing in their heads, rail enthusiast reimagined the borough’s connections with hope. Alas, […]

  2. […] there’s a notion to reactivate the branch, which would mean a complete rebuild. Good luck with […]

  3. […] promised upgrades, but details were scarce. Transit advocates had hoped to see an ambitious plan to reactivate the LIRR’s dormant Rockaway Beach Branch line while whispers surrounding a super express A train had everyone worrying. Now, it seems, […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>