Home Queens For convention center, Genting will fund A train ‘improvements’ only

For convention center, Genting will fund A train ‘improvements’ only

by Benjamin Kabak

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans for an Ozone Park Convention Center, funded solely by Genting 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, it is not meant to be.

We heard rumblings in early January that Genting would fund a Train to the Plane-type service, and this week, the company confirmed as much. In an interview with Crain’s New York, the company’s senior V.P. for development spoke about the company’s needs if they are to operate at a profit. Essentially, they would require a larger slice of the revenue pie from the convention center and an expected boost of traffic to the racino next door. They also won’t do much for transportation.

Jeremy Smerd reported:

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.

That simply will not cut it. Based on past experiences without new trackage, such a service won’t cut travel time from 35 minutes to 17 minutes. Rather, these super-express trains will end up stuck behind regular express trains, and straphangers who live along the IND Fulton will find their service less frequent.

Genting won’t like the reality of this situation, but they’re going to need to find a better transit solution that doesn’t rob service from areas with rapidly growing populations and transportation needs. If increasing capacity is not in the cards, this convention center, already a fairly bad idea, will just look worse.

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Bgriff February 3, 2012 - 11:17 am

Yeah, this is absurd. There’s no way to make that trip shorter. They could conceivably make service more frequent by paying the MTA to make some other service adjustments–perhaps C trains to Lefferts while all As go to the Rockaways, doubling the frequency of service at Aqueduct. And they could also pay for building an outbound platform at Racetrack. But it sounds like they were anticipating paying even less than what projects like those would cost.

Marc Shepherd February 3, 2012 - 12:00 pm

Sending the C to Lefferts, while much sought by rail buffs, would solve nothing. The issue is not the frequency of service, but the length of the trip. Indeed, the Train to the Plane, which they are seeking to revive, ran less frequently than Rockaway-bound A Trains do today. What they want is not more trains, but faster trains.

I agree with Ben that this is not achievable along the A Train route, without unacceptably reducing service for other riders.

SEAN February 3, 2012 - 12:22 pm

I’ll second that, but this is only the first posession & the Patriots just punted.


Phil February 3, 2012 - 12:20 pm

This plan is so poorly conceived that it hurts my brain.

John-2 February 3, 2012 - 2:12 pm

Aside from the logistical infeasibility of speeding up service between Manhattan and the racino/convention center, no Brooklyn politician in his or her right mind is going to allow the creation of a service that basically zooms through the borough without stopping, but which does have the chance to marginally benefit some riders in south Queens and in the Rockaways.

You might be able to squeeze some super-expresses in between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m and you could from 7 p.m. to midnight, but it’s not happening in the p.m. rush hour without either borrowing from other A express service in Brooklyn or cutting back on C local service in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Adding new track capacity is the only option to cut the travel time to Aqueduct from midtown, and the only available ROW is via the LIRR Rockaway Branch, either reconnected to the railroad or hooked into the IND Queens Blvd. line.

Jeff February 3, 2012 - 3:51 pm

I like the suggestion from the other thread about just restoring the connection between the Atlantic Branch and the small section of the Rockaway Branch south of it… Should be cheaper and less controversial than restoring the full Rockaway Branch.

Additional tracks will have to be added between Liberty and the Aqueduct stop though, but since the infrastructure is already there, it shouldn’t be too expensive to do.

Panthers February 3, 2012 - 2:27 pm

a 5-cent surcharge on admission tickets to the Big A would help.

JAzumah February 3, 2012 - 2:27 pm

I disagree. Outside of rush hour, this can be done by platooning trains in a manner that allows express service to be provided on the LOCAL track. You can run an AX-A-C combo, with regular As running express on the local track from Utica Avenue to Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street. This would even allow for Franklin Avenue to become an off-peak express stop. The AX should stop at Jay Street and Broadway Junction. Genting’s money in the MTA’s escrow account before anything starts

Here is the issue as I see it: I see no need for a new convention center near the airport. NONE. Therefore, I want Genting’s money in an MTA escrow account before anything happens.

Larry Littlefield February 3, 2012 - 2:34 pm

“Genting won’t like the reality of this situation, but they’re going to need to find a better transit solution that doesn’t rob service from areas with rapidly growing populations and transportation needs.”

Maybe Genting and Cuomo believe those using the trains are serfs and can be displaced.

There is capacity in non-rush hours, including outbound capacity in the AM rush and inbound capacity in the PM rush. Last time I checked there were 18 trains per hour running from Brooklyn to Manhattan just 12 running from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

One thing that would speed the trip would be to eliminate the express stop at Nostrand, which was not in the original IND plan (Hylan wanted it to compete with the IRT and BMT for those transferring from the LIRR). To make up for it, the C could be made a 10-car train.

jim February 3, 2012 - 2:41 pm

The advantage of the new convention center is we get to tear down Javits while not having to pay for building its replacement.

It would have been nice if Genting had thought they needed transit access to the new convention center to make it a success, but clearly they don’t think so (if they did, they’d be willing to put money on it). So the possibility that Genting would put up some money, the City or State would put up some money and we’d get an augmentation of the transit system which would both serve the convention center and add to the capabilities of the system as a whole, that possibility has evaporated. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.

The thing we need to guard against now is a call for widening the Belt or Van Wyck.

SEAN February 3, 2012 - 2:49 pm

The thing we need to guard against now is a call for widening the Belt or Van Wyck. The Belt Parkway may fall down well before that even happens acording to WABC last night.

Alex C February 3, 2012 - 3:41 pm

Bypass the people living along the IND Fulton who mostly can’t afford to go to the casino or donate to Cuomo’s campaign, and provide an exclusive service from downtown Manhattan to the convention centre/racino. Makes sense to me! This is a pathetic idea and won’t get anywhere. Restoring the Rockaway Beach ROW is the only way to go; be it a Queens super-express, a connection to the IND Queens Boulevard, or an LIRR shuttle that terminates at Howard beach with proper barriers to separate it from subway tracks.

Jeff February 3, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Casino-goers tend to be from all classes. Poor people go to casinos just as much as rich.

Bolwerk February 3, 2012 - 4:39 pm

Perhaps more. In some cases, gambling is probably actively encouraging them to remain poor.

Justin Samuels February 3, 2012 - 9:14 pm

But the super express on the A train bypasses them altogether, so it will certainly make it not convenient for them to go. Also, a super express will be a train they can’t take period, screwing up with how long they have to wait for trains to go to work, the doctor, etc.

I agree the only proposal that makes sense is activating the Rockaway Beach Boulevard Branch as a LIRR shuttle. If Genting can’t pay for that, well, just let people take the regular A train to the casino.

Brian February 3, 2012 - 3:42 pm

The proposal for a new convention center is a charade. Genting just wants a huge casino and is dangling the convention center as bait. After the convention center is built, when it fails, they’ll just convert the space for more gambling.

Jeff February 3, 2012 - 3:54 pm

Who cares? As long as we don’t have to pay a dime for it and it means more money for the NYS coffers. Let people gamble their money away, its their choice.

Bolwerk February 3, 2012 - 4:42 pm

I grudgingly concur with Jeff. As is, people gamble, and they go out of state to do it. It may as well at least stay in the city. It’s lowest common denominator social policy, but oh well.

Bruce M February 3, 2012 - 7:21 pm

And by the time it fails the Javits will have already been torn down leaving New York with nothing!

Bolwerk February 3, 2012 - 9:32 pm

Nothing? Maybe something useful could be done with the space.

Alex C February 4, 2012 - 1:52 am

As long as the developers of this new land help finance a 10 Ave station on the 7 extension, why not.

jim February 3, 2012 - 5:04 pm

The Crain’s piece points out that the convention center qua convention center will lose money. Genting expects to make money from convention goers staying in Genting hotels, eating in Genting restaurants, drinking in Genting bars and spending their evenings gambling in the Genting racino. Good transit to Manhattan will tempt convention goers to eat in Manhattan restaurants, drink in Manhattan bars and spend their evenings at Broadway shows. Good transit to Manhattan is against Genting’s interests. They should pay for it, too?

Frank B February 3, 2012 - 5:12 pm

Not to be rude, but screw him. We’re going to make our own citizens live through hell in their commutes so that HIS patrons will be less inconvenienced to go to HIS convention center and he can earn HIS profits?

This man can take a long walk off a short pier. He wants all the benefits from transportation without making any real investment in transportation infrastructure, at the cost of the average citizen?

Leave the A train as it is, for spite. This person does not know how to do business.

Stu Sutcliffe February 3, 2012 - 5:32 pm

Shocking news. How terribly, terribly shocking.

The Phantom February 3, 2012 - 8:28 pm

I take the A train often enough from Howard Beach / JFK and I don’t regard it as a slow ride at all. It’s a good service.

Tsuyoshi February 4, 2012 - 7:35 pm

How about they sell the Yankees parking garage to Genting and turn that into a casino?

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