Home Queens On the flawed LaGuardia AirTrain proposal and Astoria’s N train

On the flawed LaGuardia AirTrain proposal and Astoria’s N train

by Benjamin Kabak
Gov. Cuomo announced a Laguardia Airtrain via Willets Point and the Grand Central Parkway.

Placating NIMBYs no longer in power is the only reason to send a LaGuardia AirTrain to Willets Point.

Amongst certain corners of the Internet, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s LaGuardia Airport replacement plan is generating some mix of trepidation and excitement. Writing in New York Magazine, Justin Davidson called the plan flawed and vital, though he highlighted more of the former and not enough of the latter to make a convincing case, and other New York voices have generally praised the Governor’s plan for addressing the perceived problems with the airport. Still, one part of the plan — the Willets Point AirTrain — shouldn’t get a pass.

When word of Cuomo’s LaGuardia AirTrain first came out earlier this year, I was very skeptical of the plan. As Yonah Freemark wrote at the time, sending an AirTrain from LaGuardia away from Manhattan to the 7 train and LIRR at Willets Point is likely worse than the no-build option, and transit bloggers aren’t the only ones concerned with a plan that adds travel time to likely destinations from the airport.

Late last week, Jimmy Van Bramer, a City Council representative from Queens, expressed his own concerns with the plan. “Any proposal that adds passengers to the 7 line should take into consideration the maximum capacity at which ridership is currently at,” he said to the Daily News. Van Bramer is thinking about transit issues while Cuomo’s people, as one spokesperson said, is singular focused on how it “makes absolutely no sense” that LaGuardia isn’t rail-accessible. That said, bad rail connections are worse than no rail connections.

Since New York City and New York State have one chance to get this project right, it’s important to hash out these issues, and it seems as though Cuomo is taking the path of least political resistance. He seems to think that the idea of rail is better than no rail even if the routing is terrible, and he isn’t willing to wage a political fight. He’s also wrong.

The best routing for direct rail access to LaGuardia Airport likely involves the N train, and the plan isn’t a novel one. Over the nine years I’ve run this site, I’ve frequently returned to the idea of an N train to LaGuardia. As I detailed in 2010, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani had hoped to build a subway to LaGuardia in the late 1990s, but he gave up that dream once Queens NIMBYs reared their hands. I recently revisited that story in 2014, and today, it seems like ancient history. Old-school political forces in Queens battled perceptions of a disruptive subway construction project, and yet again, the rest of New York lost at the hands of a bunch of people protecting their own self-interests.

It’s been nearly 15 years since that N train plan died, and it’s time to try again. In a post written shortly after mine last year, Cap’n Transit explained why the time is ripe to revisit an Astoria extension, and his reasoning applies today as we discuss LaGuardia’s future.

The train was indeed shelved due to community opposition, as everyone reminds us, but what they fail to note is that the “community leaders” are all gone. Read through the list of politicians who came out against the plan. Denis Butler and Walter McCaffrey are dead. Peter Vallone, Senior is retired, and so is George Onorato, and Vallone Junior has been term-limited out. John Sabini was hustled off to the Racing Authority after a DUI conviction in 2007.

Not only are these windshield-perspective politicians gone, but their replacements are much less wedded to the idea that cars are the future. Senator Michael Gianaris and his protégée Assemblymember Aravella Simotas are disappointing in some ways, but they’ve kept their car activism pretty low-key, as has Senator José Peralta. City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides are both progressive on transit issues… More importantly, the voters and donors in that area care more about trains than parking today.

Another baffling element of the 1990s opposition to the extension was that it seemed like the objections could all have been overcome with some thought, but the “community leaders” weren’t interested. The line could have been run entirely over the Grand Central “Parkway,” or put underground as far south as Astoria Boulevard. A solid proposal that addresses those objections, especially if it has the backing of business leaders like the Global Gateway Alliance, should be able to win over Gianaris, Simotas and Constantinides, and eventually the rest of Astoria. It’s not 1999, people, and we shouldn’t be acting like it is.

Cap’n Transit penned those words 15 months ago, and they are equally applicable today. It’s time to revive the idea of an N train extension to LaGuardia. If we’re going to spend $400-$800 million on an AirTrain that will lead to more problems than it solves, our leaders owe it to us and future generations of New Yorkers to fight for the right solution. The NIMBYs aren’t in power; let’s not pretend they are. The N train should go to LaGuardia, not an AirTrain to the 7 train and Willets Point.

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Boris August 5, 2015 - 1:48 am

So what would you like us to do to make it happen? Write letters? Sign a petition? Attend a rally? Will this be a Riders Alliance campaign? Enough hypotheticals, come on, rally the troops!

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. August 5, 2015 - 12:07 pm

You can go to the Riders Alliance website @ ridersny.org and go to the section known as “What’s Your Campaign,” and address your public transportation issues there. You can also send an email to info@ridersny.org to address your concerns there. They will respond to you within days.

Note: Ben Kabak is currently a board member of the Riders Alliance.

Disclaimer: I am currently a member of the Riders Alliance.

J August 5, 2015 - 12:24 pm

Yes, how do we organize? I’m willing to take up the cause. The demographics of Astoria have changed dramatically. Whenever I take the M60 there, it’s all young people headed to their regularly scheduled consulting trips or vacations. I’m sure they’d have no problem with pushing for the N train to Astoria. Also, property values would rise a lot.

Justin Samuels August 5, 2015 - 7:06 pm

Public petitions have huge successes lately. I think on the most critical public transportation issues that Ben should rally us for petitions and other things.

Not something which a huge portion of the public will hate (congestion pricing) but on things like the N to LaGuardia. Or funding from the city for the Second Avenue Subway phases 2-4. with all of the development in the city there is no real reason real estate taxes can’t fund phases 2-4.

Eric August 7, 2015 - 12:36 pm

To Benjamin:

“The best routing for direct rail access to LaGuardia Airport likely involves the N train”.

Hi Ben, I enjoy reading your opinions on this site. I agree that the LGA connection to Willets Point is not the best route. However, I also disagree that the N train is optimal.

There is a better route that truly is ideal for everyone.

Nathanael August 7, 2015 - 4:43 pm

Indeed. How shall we organize to get this done?

eo August 5, 2015 - 8:32 am

Ben, you are right about the NIMBYs, but now it is all about the money. AirTran will be financed and paid for by the PANYNJ with airport fees which cannot be used for transit (the law is bad in this case, but it had to be or there were going to be abuses in other parts of the country). The N train will need to be paid for by the MTA which clearly is short on money. I know Cuomo plans on using money from bank settlements, but once we have overruns which are guaranteed, the PANYNJ is much better equipped to find the money to finish the project. It does not make it a better project, but it is the state of affairs.

tacony August 5, 2015 - 9:41 am

So have the AirTrain run along the Grand Central Parkway to meet the N at Astoria Blvd. No NIMBYs live in the middle of the parkway. I’m still unconvinced that this wouldn’t be the easiest option.

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:47 am

Many years ago, “they” (not sure who) lowered the light poles on the GCP waaaay low. I assume this was so that planes wouldn’t clip them when coming into LGA. Not sure if they can stick an elevated structure much higher than those light poles for the same reason.

Al August 5, 2015 - 11:12 am

Who says it has to be elevated at that particular location?

anon_coward August 5, 2015 - 12:19 pm

i don’t think there is any room on the sides of the GCP for a set of tracks

John-2 August 5, 2015 - 8:51 pm

It could be done, since there’s parkland to the south of the GCP in the runway area. But it would require the entire parkway to be shifted to the south, under the assumption you’d want either the Airtrain or the subway line to be on the north side of the 82nd Street overpass, so there would be the option for a ground-level station at least in the vicinity of the Marine Air Terminal (you’d still need shuttle buses though — there’s no way to actually get the train to the Marine Air Terminal without a massive ground level redesign of the 82nd Street area or somehow tunneling the tracks under the LGA runway, which would also require a lot of pumps due to the water table in that area).

Henry August 6, 2015 - 5:41 am

State law says that all parkland used up has to be replaced, so unless you know of a lot to clear for parkland that’s a no-go.

John-2 August 6, 2015 - 11:26 am

Does it have to be replaced in the same spot, or can the parkland be shifted? That’s how they got around building the new Yankee Stadium on the McCombs Dam Park site, by shifting the taken parkland to the former stadium site.

Bolwerk August 6, 2015 - 2:02 pm

What is the relevant law here?

Henry August 7, 2015 - 1:59 am

I can’t seem to find the relevant section in the legal code, but the Assembly has a document containing the section on parkland alienation here.

Bolwerk August 7, 2015 - 11:51 am

Crazy, goes way back too:

“Brooklyn Park Commissioners v. Armstrong (1871) 45 N.Y. 234. The City of Brooklyn may not sell parkland
without first obtaining Legislative approval.”

Pity, because a lot of parks seem like blights now.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:27 am

One person’s blight is another person’s treasure. See: the controversy over the proposal for the MLS stadium in Flushing Meadows Park, which is the epitome of a decaying, neglected park.

MDC August 5, 2015 - 11:48 pm

A problem with routing the AirTrain along the GCP from Astoria: it will encounter no less than 12 overpasses that cross the GCP before it gets to LGA.

A better routing might be to start from the Broadway 7-Jackson Heights E/F/M/R stations, at the intersection of Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue, and run the train north along the BQE to the GCP. There are only 3 overpasses to worry about: 2 on the GCP right before LGA, plus the Amtrak viaduct. This viaduct crosses the GCP route too, but where it crosses the BQE, it’s much lower, because the tracks have just come up out of a below-grade cut.

The routing I’m suggesting will require traveling 2 short blocks along Broadway before you get to the BQE. But there’s a nice spot to build the AirTrain station right next to the subway stations. The potential for NIMBY issues seems minimal.

Walt Gekko August 5, 2015 - 8:33 am

Very much like the idea of an (N) extension to LaGuardia, however, as previously noted, I think a better one would actually be to extend the (N) to The Bronx:

This would involve continuing straight after Ditmars Boulevard to a new stop north of there at 20th Avenue and then continuing across one or two new bridges to The Bronx (two if there is a stop in between Queens and The Bronx on Rikers Island that obviously would have to be done in a high security manner). My plan would then call for an elevated stop at Food Service Drive in The Bronx before then going underground. Such would include stops at East 180th Street (Transfer to the 2/5) and Westchester/Elder Avenue (Transfer to the 6) before going to a terminal at Jacobu Medical Center, which doesn’t have any subway service at the moment. That to me would work, especially since it would give Queens riders looking for the Bronx an option without going through Manhattan and give Bronx riders a new option to Queens as well as midtown.

Fbfree August 5, 2015 - 9:54 am

If you’re going to spend the money to connect the Bronx to Queens, you’d want to do it with a line that connects easily to Queen’s Boulevard and the 7.

Desk Jockey August 5, 2015 - 10:22 am

I’m very sure that any money available to be spent on a Bronx-bound N would be much better spent on a Bronx-bound Q or T. For riders from Astoria to the east Bronx it’s only four stops to 57-7 then another quick half-dozen (one day…) to the Harlem River, but with all the benefits of serving multiple customer bases along one line over very expensive bridges.

Walt Gekko August 5, 2015 - 10:29 am

My plan would be separate of any for a Bronx-bound (T) that I would do as essentially a rebuild of the 3rd Avenue El (whether elevated or subway) in The Bronx (and if elevated, with provisions to at a later time allow for a full rebuild of the Manhattan 3rd Avenue El).

The Bronx extension of the (N) I would do would serve areas a (T) in The Bronx would not, including as noted Food Service Drive and Jacobi Medical Center (which would be the likely terminal for an (N) extended to The Bronx). The idea for a Bronx (N) is so people in Queens would have an option to get to The Bronx WITHOUT going through Manhattan, whether via a straight transfer or one via MetroCard.

Ryan August 5, 2015 - 12:46 pm

Yes, but unfortunately, the decision was made that serving the Metro-North station was far more important than serving the Bronx, and when combined with the absolutely boneheaded decision not to even provision for express tracks later, it means that 2 Av cannot support full* service to the Bronx.

We can correct this only** by changing Phase 2 to delete the segment of 125 St subway, ensuring that 2 Av stops at 125 St – 2 Av station and there is a provision for 100% of 2 Av service to continue north over or under the Harlem River. In fact, if Lexington Avenue connections are vital, the appropriate place for Phase 2 to end is 3 Av – 138 St, NOT Harlem – 125 St.

* You could have an under-capacity branch service, and you could potentially augment it with a shuttle to take advantage of remaining capacity, but this is not ideal.

** Abandoning service to the 125 St – Lexington Av station isn’t an option because Phase 2 precludes a station at 125 St – 2 Av, and turning trains north again at 7 Av isn’t an option because you lose out on the ability to connect 125 St to Jersey, you lose a connection to 8 Av services, and force an extremely awkward connection to 6 Av services in the Bronx that either requires walking around Yankee Stadium or a suboptimal routing decision.

adirondacker12800 August 5, 2015 - 3:09 pm

Just like they dug the 6th Avenue local tracks around what is now PATH they can dig tunnels around 2nd Avenue local tracks. Or they could burrow them under the 2nd Avenue local tracks like the did with the 6th Avenue express tracks. Decades after they dug the local tracks. Drop a TBM in up in the Bronx and point it at Brooklyn and drop a TBM in, in Brooklyn and point it at the Bronx. While they are at it drop a TBM in, in Mount Vernon and point it at Staten Island and one in Staten Island and point it at Mount Vernon. While they are pointing one from Jersey City to Flatbush Avenue and the LIRR and vice versa.

ComradeFrana August 6, 2015 - 6:30 am

“In fact, if Lexington Avenue connections are vital, the appropriate place for Phase 2 to end is 3 Av – 138 St, NOT Harlem – 125 St.”

3 Av – 149 St. The capacity problem is worse on Lexington express than on the local, with less room for improvement. Ending Phase 2 at 138 St would mean no connection and relief for the express.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 10:33 am

Okay, that’s fair.

My understanding was that most of the overcrowding could be blamed on the Upper East Side and Harlem, but since you’d eventually want to extend this thing farther into the Bronx anyway for Phase 5(?) it makes no difference to me which 3 Av stop you cut Phase 2 at.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 1:58 am

While I support an extension to a Bronx, a stop at 125/2nd is a bad idea, mostly because the area would dump you immediately into the Triboro Bridge offramps, which limit walkability and development potential, and because it’s in one of the higher-risk flood zones.

Anonymous August 7, 2015 - 9:07 am

But 125/Lex is even worse – as interchange will be centered in one big station. If 125 needs to be closed it knocks out a part of the network.

Finishing at 116th for now and later on extending into the Bronx, even if it were only to 149/Morris (connected to 149/GC) with an intermediate station at 138/Third (connected to 138/3 Av) would spread out interchange throughout 2 stations. The only remaining question would be: where to after. Not the Harlem line ROW at least, as it’s an underused asset (frequency within the city should be increased and fares lowered).

Henry August 7, 2015 - 10:47 am

And how often does that happen? The subway has never been crippled due to, say, a Times Sq closure; a 125 St closure is not going to be any worse than that. If service at 3 Av – 149 St is knocked out, people still heading south using Second Avenue are still screwed. Besides, it’s still cheaper than going under the river for a longer distance.

I don’t mean to say building using the Harlem Line ROW, but alongside or above/below it.

Anonymous August 7, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Even that is a waste of space. The Harlem line is a perfectly fine railroad that needs to increase it’s frequencies, so the SAS wouldn’t need to duplicate it and do something more useful in another part of the Bronx that isn’t served by rail.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 12:22 pm

As opposed to linking it to the WPR or to Dyre, thus displacing perfectly adequate services? Third Av has lacked a subway line for a long time, and Metro-North does actually have limits to how many trains it can run on the Harlem Line due to the junctions with the Hudson line and the tracks into Grand Central Terminal.

In fact, if we were going to use all of MNR’s trackage as proof of adequate service with rail, then no part of the Bronx really needs new train service by that argument. The Harlem Line runs close enough to Third Avenue. The Hudson Line parallels the Jerome Av line. The line for Penn Station Access parallels the 6 and serves Hunts Point and Co-op City. And so on and so forth.

AG August 7, 2015 - 8:15 pm

Yeah the 3rd Ave. line should be replaced just as the 2nd Ave El is in Manhattan. Talk of Metro North – why does the New Haven Line refuse passengers headed to Manhattan at Fordham Rd??

Ryan August 8, 2015 - 9:08 am

The short answer is “politics, (because Connecticut told them to)” and the long answer goes into all sorts of ‘fascinating’ history on agreements that were made about whose money gets spent where in benefit of which people.

Ryan August 7, 2015 - 12:09 pm

If service at 3 Av – 149 St is knocked out, people getting on at 3 Av – 138 St probably don’t care all that much, and people roughly halfway between those two stops probably just walk to 138 instead of 149.

It’s important to plan for people transferring off of the Lex, yes, but it’s far more important to plan for people who currently are walking longer distances to get to the Lex services who would presumably walk a shorter distance and board 2 Av services directly without needing to transfer.

Ryan August 7, 2015 - 12:05 pm

Flood risk can be mitigated as part of construction and flood risk mitigation is going to be a whole lot cheaper than trying to double-back into the Bronx from a launching point at Park-Lex Avs.

I’m also questioning the assertion that the development potential is really limited anywhere except for the two blocks on which the ramps themselves sit – redevelopment absolutely is NOT constrained west of 2 Av, nor is it constrained between 120 and 124 east of 2 Av. (Actually, I’m not even sure the blockbuster development there right now even needs redeveloping. It probably deserves service on its own merits.)

And just because the stop is announced as 125 St doesn’t mean that there has to be only exits onto 125. You could easily put the dead center of the platform under the 125/2 intersection and extend exits out to 124/2 and 126/2, giving people three directions to walk in that don’t put them in Triboro Park.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 12:18 pm

There’s no need for tracks to double back; two storage tracks will be built continuing north on 2nd Av to 129th St, in preparation for both a extension north and a yard at 129th St for future SAS phases.

Are we talking about the same 125th/2nd? The one with industrial/transportation use surrounding it, mostly auto dealerships, the bus depot, and the bridge? In any case, 116 St will have an exit as far north as 119 St. Another stop at 125 St would be unnecessary, given the lack of development potential that exists north of 125 St.

Ryan August 7, 2015 - 2:12 pm

There’s a need for tracks to double back if you send them west to Park-Lex Avs, because now they’re off their approach alignment. Furthermore, the doubling back overly complicates routing options to actually go anywhere the Bronx, and screws over any potential Jersey-Queens crosstown subway.

Sending one branch only into the Bronx is unacceptably low frequency; it also precludes serving multiple sections of the Bronx in need of additional transit options.

As for the auto dealerships (in Manhattan!) and bus depot… those sound like textbook redevelopment opportunities to me. Between 2 and 3 Av the bridge is a non-issue. There’s a wealth of developable space there, unless the bridge is secretly radioactive, and if it’s secretly radioactive then we’ve got larger issues than where the Second Avenue Subway ought to be stopping in this area.

adirondacker12800 August 7, 2015 - 3:28 pm

It’s unpleasant to live slung between two busy highways if not actually unhealthy. The people who live in Manhattan need someplace to put the services they use. Slung between two highways where it would be unwise to live is a good place for those services.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:28 am

East Harlem has the some of the highest asthma rates in the city. With those kind of health hazards, it may as well be.

johndmuller August 9, 2015 - 5:10 am

The real problem here is that we have a two track trunk line on 2nd Ave. Now somebody has seemingly decided to send one branch (about half of that capacity) west on 125th St., and perhaps branch 2 (the other half) north into the Bronx, whenever.

People can easily imagine destinations in the Bronx which could utilize 2 to 4 branch lines (3rd Ave., University Hgts., Coop City, and Throgs Neck). Similarly, people can imagine 2 or 3 branch lines coming off the 125th St. spur (straight west on 125th to B’way, or beyond to NJ; west to St. Nick’s to join the A & C, one line spinning off to NJ on the GWB; and shortly turning north to resume heading north into the Bronx, presumably to cover the University Heights option).

Maybe it would be a good idea to put in four tracks on 2nd Ave. this time to allow for some of these possibilities. As for the excess tracks compared to the section just built, consider it a compromise. If it is too expensive to add two tracks to the existing segment, they could run under 3rd Ave. in that section, and/or run over to Astoria and LGA.

Just making provisions for a 4 track ‘express’ station as one of the new stations on 2nd Ave. would allow for the future possibility of an uptown stop on what would otherwise be a ‘thru express’ from the Bronx bypassing all those phase 1 stations, adding in the extra capacity on a line that could be tunneled later in Manhattan after the extra branch(es) in the Bronx were built.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 11:10 am

I’m intrigued by the desire to get trains to two of the Bronx’s big job centers that are currently underserved by transit, but I question whether you will capture a lot of riders going to or from the Hunters Point food markets, since both sides of that business are pretty truck dependent (the folks selling goods or buying goods typically need trucks to move the product to the final point of sale). I don’t doubt the value of connecting Queens to the Bronx, but I’m not sure how to do it best.

The bigger problem I see is navigating the East River in one of the most difficult areas. You have to be low enough to stay out of the flight path for Runway 13-31 to LGA, but high enough to clear the navigable part of the East River. You will have to avoid Rikers (I see no interest in a stop, unless it stops being a jail), and definitely avoid the Hunters Point Wastewater Treatment plant on the Bronx side. It will need to be one of the longest crossings of the east river, over a mile as the crow flies, and likely longer to avoid these impediments.

J August 5, 2015 - 12:42 pm

But how many people actually go between the Bronx and Queens? Not that many, I’d say. A train to the airport is much more important, and extending the N is the best way.

tacony August 5, 2015 - 11:26 pm

More people go from the Bronx to Queens every day than go to LGA every day.

Henry August 6, 2015 - 5:47 am

Bronx-Queens travel is pretty diffuse though, and not really through Astoria. The Q44 is busy, the Q50 is okay, and the only bus route over the Triboro in that direction was closed due to lack of demand. LGA is at least one central location.

AG August 6, 2015 - 4:58 pm

Well yeah – because a lot of the people who travel between the Bronx and Queens for work – drive… I know/have known more than a handful. By traffic patters – it would appear there are plenty of others.

adirondacker12800 August 6, 2015 - 5:41 pm

Workers in the Bronx work in the Bronx. Almost as many of them work in Manhattan. The ones who work in Queens are a small fraction. Same thing for people in Queens.
There’s a bias in the sample. People in the Bronx who don’t own a car don’t consider jobs in Queens and vice versa. A majority of them aren’t near a subway that could go to the other borough nor is their job.

AG August 6, 2015 - 11:49 pm

You have the data on the drivers? As far as I know – the data only exists for transit users. Considering I myself know 5 individuals that live or work in one or the other – i’m sure there are many many more.

adirondacker12800 August 7, 2015 - 1:12 am

The Census Bureau keeps track of this stuff. I’m not in the mood to go find current numbers.
The outdated of information have has 169k Bronx residents working in the Bronx, 160k in Manhattan and 17k in Brooklyn. Subway trains in Queens don’t do any of them any good. 17k in Queens. That includes people who work odd hours in places like hospitals and airports. That aren’t near the subway. If they all decided to take the subway you need something like the G. With shorter trains and lower frequencies. 28k of them work in Westchester.
368k people in Queens work in Queens. 346k in Manhattan, 87k in Brooklyn, 18k in the Bronx. 68k in Nassau.

AG August 7, 2015 - 8:08 pm

I said drivers… But yes – of course it would be less between Queens and the Bronx – because unless you drive the commute is a nightmare… That was the whole point of the original comment.

lop August 12, 2015 - 8:02 am


This study from a few years ago might interest you.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 2:01 am

My point is that it’s a lot easier to collect all the people who are working in LGA on one subway line than it is to gather all the Bronx-Queens people on one subway line or bus route. The Triboro RX connection is too far west, and the Q44 would be difficult to convert to rail or light rail.

AG August 5, 2015 - 6:28 pm

Decent idea – but there is no money for that either. The MTA said the reason they are not adding a station for Metro North on the future Hell Gate Line (which would connect Queens and The Bronx) was because they said it cost too much.

Joseph Lambert September 16, 2015 - 9:51 pm

It would be a better idea to shorten travel times from LaGuardia to Queens by constructing the AirTrain LGA from LaGuardia to the Ditmars Boulevard N station instead of the Mets-Willets Point 7 station.

Larry Littlefield August 5, 2015 - 8:40 am

“The train was indeed shelved due to community opposition, as everyone reminds us, but what they fail to note is that the “community leaders” are all gone.”

Not at the state level. There, in the absence of term limits or real elections, an unrepresentative cabal of self-dealers representing those cashing in and moving out continues to control offices in NYC. I keep mentioning this because I did what I could about it. When is someone else going to run against these people?

“I know Cuomo plans on using money from bank settlements.”

I also keep mentioning that Republicans in Congress expects to take that money from NY. Why should NY get money because its leading industry ripped off the rest of the country? And they have a way — make NY pay the federal government back for all the Medicaid fraud here.

The Cuomo Administration hopes to spend all the settlement money before leaving office, keeping the feds at bay and leaving a disaster when it departs that is a bad or worse than the one he inherited. That is “fairness” in the political world in the Generation Greed era.

The Port Authority had pledged $900 million for the N to LGA. That money was turned over the MTA when the project was cancelled.

Kyle August 5, 2015 - 8:52 am

I agree that the 7 train is overly crowded and using the LIRR Port Washington line as additional rail support doesn’t seem reasonable either…Can easily imagine how aweful that experience for travelers to NYC or From the NYC would be getting on it with all the People going to Mets, commuters home, or Tennis Fans depending upon the time of the year. And the 7 train with a regular express version really doesn’t make sense either.

I also doubt with the Port Authority running the Airport that we’d be likely get a subway line directly to the Airport. Though I wish we had politicians that actually had to ride the trains, they’d be all over it if they saw how nice Chicago’s Blue line into O’Hare is for travelers.

That said, I think from living in Central Queens we would be better served if they extended the current Airtrain to JFK from Jamaica through Met’s Willets, and onto Laguardia and made the stops outside the Airport Part of the Subway fare. First it would connect Queens North to South by rail, and 2 make transfers between Airports for international travelers easy (Anyone else notice this weird transfer lately?)

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:23 am

I don’t think you see airport passengers bunching up at rush hour, the way commuters do. The main overlap may be on Summer Fridays, with mass getaways by both segments. That said, I cannot imagine how the prototypical tourist family with 2 kids and 2 bags is even going to fit on an IRT train at any time approaching the evening rush. The only benefit I see to the Shea alignment is that it allows for a fairly extensive airport intercept park and ride on the site.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 10:20 am

Queens needs a north-south transit connection, but the solution is not AirTrain. A north-south line in this area would be terrible over the Van Wyck like the existing AirTrain is, because you’d force people to travel to areas with lots of car activity, and with less attractions to ride the system. Some form of transit would do better under either Main St or Kissena Blvd or Parsons Blvd than over the Van Wyck, since it would hit lots of dense neighborhoods, potentially serve Queens College, and connect two of Queens’ large activity centers (Jamaica and Downtown Flushing). It would probably be better to then run it up to College Point to help bring people down to Flushing for service to Manhattan than going to Willets Point (a bus or a quick ride on the 7 can do that).

Forcing LGA passengers to go to Jamaica to get to their AirTrain is not a solution either, for city-bound travelers it is further out of the way than sending them to Willets Point which is already not the ideal solution (although better for folks from further out on LI). Also, there are few destinations available at LGA that aren’t available at Kennedy. The biggest cities I’ve been able to find that are only served at LGA are St. Louis and Memphis. So the market for travel between JFK and LGA, even for international passengers, is likely very small. Most transfers can be accommodated at JFK, others can be done by flying to an international airport closer to their destination, or flying to another hub from JFK to get a connection to those cities.

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:07 am

I just don’t understand how the PA has $4 billion+ for LGA and the monorail, when it has $0 to rebuild it’s bus station. LGA is ugly and fetid, but functional. PA bus station, not so much. What LGA really needs is about a million tons of fill to extend the runways a bit, but you can’t do that anymore with the enviro handcuffs we all work under.

eo August 5, 2015 - 9:33 am

The airport travelers are much less price sensitive and represent a smaller voting constituency, so they can get airport fees slapped on their fares easily. The people using the PA bus terminal will be very loud if a similar surcharge showed up on their tickets.

tacony August 5, 2015 - 9:54 am

What? You’re telling me that airport travelers have less political power than PABT users? You think the bus companies don’t pass on the enormous cost of gate fees at the Port Authority to consumers? The percentage of the average ticket price that goes to gate fees at the PABT is probably higher than the percentage that goes to airport facilities charges at LGA and JFK.

The people using the PA bus terminal are essentially invisible to politicians. The idea that they’d be “very loud”? — to whom would they be speaking loudly? The place is a dump that only desperate low budget travelers and NJ commuters (who NY politicians regard as scum) have to put up with. It was already abandoned by anyone with other options long ago. Even budget travelers would rather stand out in the cold rain waiting for Megabus on 11th Ave than be in that terminal.

eo August 5, 2015 - 11:40 am

And that exactly is the point: try telling any regular commuter that thay need to pay $5 more per ticket regardless of distance for use of the terminal, so that a new one can be built and you will hear people complaining and calling their representative. Jack up the airport fees without any announcements by $5 and everyone will assume it was the airlines and not even realize it years later. And then $5 relative to an airplane ticket is very different of $5 relative to the price of a bus ticket. So the PA can increase the fees for the air passengers without getting scolded by politicians much. The shouting when they do this for bus passengers will be very loud.

No, the people using the PA bus terminal are not invisible to the politicians. The people want to have a bus terminal, but not pay for it. The people who fly through LGA tend to be fewer, better off and more willing to swallow the extra fee, so they will get it.

Alon Levy August 5, 2015 - 9:51 am

How often do you think PA honchos fly, and how often do you think they take a bus?

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:56 am

I don’t disagree, and it is something of a scandal how these agency chiefs, big city mayors, etc. have control over systems they rarely if ever use and have very little familiarity with. But that said, pretty much all the facilities the PA runs look shabby. It’s only recently that the JFK terminals started to become modernized and that’s about as good as the PA stuff gets.

SEAN August 5, 2015 - 10:38 am

If that be the case, then why is it as soon as terminal reconstruction ends at JFK, within a year or so there’s new terminal rebuilding just getting under way? Granted LGA needs serious work, but the PA has Delta to push them along.

The stand alone Airtrain to LGA is flawed, but if it were tied to the current system in Jamaica it would be passible. Extending the N from Astoria would be the best & most direct option.

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 10:45 am

I’d say it’s also a scandal how the big city mayorselected officials have no say over these systems.

I got the impression the PA released an impossibly expensive PABT42 proposal to avoid having to really do anything, at least on their own.

adirondacker12800 August 7, 2015 - 6:25 pm

They have to have the study so they can turn around and say “putting those people on trains instead of onto buses means we don’t have to build a billion dollar bus terminal for them” The unsaid thing is that the Lincoln doesn’t have the capacity for that many buses. Unless they want another exclusive bus lane into Manhattan.
Pity ARC was canceled. The people who go down to the train station to get on a bus to Manhattan could have gone down to the train station to get on a train in 2020 or so.

anon_coward August 5, 2015 - 12:22 pm

the monorail will be new bonds to be paid by the revenues of that line

LLQBTT August 5, 2015 - 9:23 am

At a quick glance of Google Maps, the community concerns from 16 years ago could be a subway stop near Rikers Island access on Hazen St. And the fear could be that all sorts of “undesirables” would be loitering near the subway.

The answer to that of course is don’t build a stop.

And send the subway via a viaduct over the Grand Central Parkway. The route comprises businesses and a cemetery for the bulk of it. There’s just a little stretch with houses, however that stretch already has 10+ lanes of traffic right out front. Can an elevated subway in the roadway median, a good 50 feet or so from the houses, really make that much of a difference?

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:29 am

Or, as a concession, rebuild the line along with the extension, burying the elevated section through most of Astoria. The elevated line is a noisy, shadow casting, blight. Not saying this is realistic, but that would be a win-win for Astoria and the city generally.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 9:41 am

Or rebuild the Astoria line as a modern viaduct, that captures more of the sound that the metal structure that exists today. It’s not going to be silent, but it’ll be quieter. Shadows will still be a problem, unfortunately, but modern technology of a modern structure can alleviate much of the noise nuisance that the neighborhood suffers from.

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 9:42 am

Good point. Less noise, fewer support beams coming up from the street would make a big difference.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 10:46 am

The Astoria Line is one of the shorter elevated lines in the system (the uptown Broadway line has a short elevated stretches, so does the Fulton Line to lefferts is pretty short once it gets out to Queens) and since it’s the one that gets the most vocal complaints about noise, I figure it would make a good test lab for a conversion to a modern concrete elevated. If it can significantly reduce sound pollution, it might be a good example of how NYC can build elevated lines this century, and potentially expand service in the outer boroughs. The Myrtle Line is probably also a good candidate to be rebuilt as a concrete elevated, it runs through so many blocks in Ridgewood it’s amazing there aren’t the same level of sound pollution complaints that you hear in Astoria.

Charles Krueger August 5, 2015 - 11:42 am

So maybe rebuild the concrete EL first and, when everyone sees how quiet it is, NIMBYism will be reduced?

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Well, it will probably first lead to a call to replace all existing el’s with modern ones, which considering the age of the structures in some places, isn’t a bad thing. But once you prove that you can build elevated’s that don’t cause the sound pollution you see throughout NYC, you might be able to get neighborhoods to embrace them if it means getting subway service to areas without service today. There will probably still be complaints, probably around shadows and privacy, but alleviating the sound pollution is significant.

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 9:46 am

It’s vaguely technically feasible, but you lose a nice cross-platform transfer to the 7 – an important one, no less. Otherwise it would require tearing up several blocks of street to accommodate the dip from el to subway.

This goes for any surviving el: what can and probably inevitably will eventually be done, maybe decades or centuries out, is replacement of the el with modern concrete viaducts. They’re still elevated, but loud rattling is replaced with whooshes and electric engine noises that don’t carry very far. Except maybe near stations, they allow a lot more light in too.

Eric F August 5, 2015 - 10:01 am

I know, the connections would have be accounted for, and the 7 transfer is very convenient in the current configuration. You’d want to start the descent after Queens Plaza, or whatever it’s called, and the descent alignment would probably be a disruptive as the continuous El, so like I said, probably not in the cards, but it would be nice.

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 10:26 am

It would be strange: under a river, up to a high platform, down under a street.

SEAN August 5, 2015 - 10:44 am

remember the 1 at 125th street.? that station is on a viaduct between tunnels.

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 10:49 am

Yes, but in that case the train line isn’t making any radical grade changes. That’s basically a bridge across the Manhattan Valley.

J August 5, 2015 - 1:33 pm

I live in Astoria and I love the aesthetic and character the elevated line brings. I don’t see it as blight at all. It defines the main corridor of the neighborhood, and most residents I know say “I live east” or “west” of the elevated. It’s fun to see the train pull in and be up on the platform.

Who started the idea that elevateds are just bad in all and every situation?

adirondacker12800 August 5, 2015 - 3:14 pm

…the people who tore them down so there could be more cars… that got there on brand new elevated highways…

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 4:12 pm

I’m not aware of anyone in particular. I’d say it was just the modernist planning zeitgeist, and that “zeit” was probably the 1930s to the 1970s, maybe the 1980s. The IND was partially designed to replace els.

That said, LaGuardia and Moses both had negative views of els. But not highways that had the same problems, only worse. Hylan helped push the IND in the 1920s, but that may have had less to do with els and more to do with h8/butthert about the private railroads.

Preston August 11, 2015 - 3:27 pm

I’ll say that if i was within two blocks of the elevated rails I wouldn’t be a fan. Their cute when I live up on steinway and don’t have to hear the trains 24/7… but I understand many peoples feels about wanting the trains underground.

Bolwerk August 14, 2015 - 9:21 pm

I live about 1.5 short blocks from one. Hardly hear it even when outside.

I have a feeling it’d be a lot worse if I were even half a block closer though, especially if I wanted to use my yard.

AlexB August 5, 2015 - 9:47 am

Elevated branch of the Astoria line over the Grand Central Parkway is the best and easiest option. Just have the middle track rise up north of 30th Ave and turn onto the GCP. There’s already a concrete wall down the middle of the thing so it should be easy enough to build the piers. Maybe you get an intermediate stop nears Ditmars, then 2-3 stops at the new airport terminals. It could even be single tracked for much of its route. I’d recommend making it the W instead of the N so the financial district would have direct access. You’d have no negative effects on any neighborhoods worse than the airtrain Cuomo proposed.

Rich B August 5, 2015 - 7:16 pm

This plan makes the most sense to me, too. If they’re already thinking about reviving the W, make that a branch off the N between the 30 Av and Astoria Blvd stations, running along GCP to LGA. Have this new W run express through Manhattan. Then you really would have a good express train from all of Manhattan to LGA. That seems ideal.

John-2 August 5, 2015 - 9:02 pm

You could still run it local in Manhattan, since it presumably would terminate at Whitehall, while the N would continue to go to Coney Island. But the MTA could run it as a contra-flow express along 31st Street, running express northbound from Queensborogh Plaza in the morning rush hours and southbound towards QP in the afternoon and evenings.

That would allow airport workers or the day-tripper shuttle flight passengers to have express service to and from the airport, while not taking away the rush hour service for both the N and W lines, since they would make all stops inbound mornings and outbound in the afternoons (I’d turn the line onto the GCP right-of-way at Astoria Blvd. to avoid the most NIMBY problems, which would leave only the N train to serve Ditmars. But all the other stations would retain their two line service, and some area residents might be placated by 1-2 stops along the GCP east of 31st St.).

Michael K August 5, 2015 - 10:26 am

I think that the biggest reason for extending the Astoria Line is being overlooked – with 35,000 new residents likely moving into LIC/Astoria over the next ten years additional trains cannot be added to the line because of the maxed out capacity of the Ditmars Terminal. Extending the line to the airport with a high capacity terminal (perhaps a six-track station, will do wonders for line capacity. In theory, an airport express can be run once every 30 minutes in each direction, utilizing the middle track.

SEAN August 5, 2015 - 10:57 am

Good point. As areas like LIC get redeveloped, it is essential that there’s subway capassity for the new residents. As it is – that’s not the case & having a new terminal would lessen that issue to some degree. Plus having that terminal at LGA solves the airport transit problem.

Larry Littlefield August 5, 2015 - 10:39 am

Part of the issue here is the assumption that if it looks like a bus, only the serfs will ride it.

I tried the new bus to LaGuardia connection. It’s problems are:

1) Infrequent service, which would be remedied if more people used it.
2) Getting out of the congested 74th and Broadway area.
3) Getting stuck in traffic at LGA itself.

Even with a construction-related traffic jam, the bus moved on the BQE.

If they had a dedicated, grade-separated busway at LGA, problem 3 goes away. And that busway could be used by higher priced private buses from Grand Central, direct from the suburbs, etc. etc. as well as the Q70. It really is all they have to do.

Bolwerk August 5, 2015 - 11:07 am

No, transit buses actually do suck at airport service. It’s not a rail or bus matter either, but a matter of vehicle size and passenger flow. A PCC-sized streetcar would also suck for airport service (though maybe a longer train of LRVs would be acceptable).

There are good reasons to favor rapid transit for airport service. The Cuomo proposal is just a crappy way to go about it.

Jon Y August 5, 2015 - 2:03 pm

4. Not have pre-payment slows the boarding process down to likely make the bus take 40-50% more time, especially since riders have their bags/luggage. Institute pre-boarding like the SBS routes do and watch what happens to the Q70…

StevenM August 5, 2015 - 10:53 am

Why not extend the R or M train up Steinway then across Astoria Boulevard and deep in to Flushing / College Point. The Steinway portion would continue underground and come above ground near the cemetery. The line would then be elevated above Astoria Boulevard and on in to Flushing. This would open up new additional areas to increased housing development. An Airtrain / shuttle bus could connect near Willets point. If the connection exists, use the 63rd street tunnel in to Manhattan and avoid Queens Plaza.

Airport connectivity should be ancillary to increasing transportation and housing options. It should be a good excuse to get a project done.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 11:22 am

For starters, you would be eviscerating local service on the Queens Boulevard line. I don’t think Astoria residents would like subway construction any more than they like living with an elevated line. Getting service out to College Point is a worthy goal, but I don’t think you can do it by taking any local service off the Queens Boulevard line.

If you can get the Astoria line out to LGA, maybe you can continue it along the GCP/Whitestone out to College Point. That’s a potential solution.

StevenM August 5, 2015 - 2:34 pm

Yes, and how much of the Queens Blvd riders comes from north of the line, with people doing a bus to Subway transfer? Perhaps this northern / Astoria Blvd line could alleviate some of the overcrowding on the main trunk.

And people will complain about construction, but they might be more receptive to additional lines serving an under provided for area. One of the problems with the N line is that it does little for the people in the area (they’ve got theirs) while only focusing on the airport, which serves out of neighborhood people. The cost benefit analysis for the neighborhood is a negative.

Joe Steindam August 5, 2015 - 5:01 pm

Well for starters, it would probably do more to alleviate the Flushing line than the Queens Boulevard line, because once you’re in Jackson Heights, the Queens Boulevard line is south of the Flushing line, and as that line goes out to Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills, it picks up a lot of people at the local stops, many densely built neighborhoods that need that local service. This isn’t an issue of who should get subways, Queens needs more subways. But service/system expansion shouldn’t compromise existing service, which would happen by branching off the QB local tracks. We’ll eventually need additional tunnels to get them to destinations in Manhattan.

I’m actually with you, I don’t think it’s worthwhile extending the subway to the airport, especially when East Elmhurst and those other neighborhoods deserve service and see it pass them by. I’d rather have an airtrain from the Roosevelt Ave or Woodside station, which were some of Ben’s ideas and others on this blog. But with the discussion of an extension of the Astoria line to serve the airport, it would pass by or around East Elmhurst and other transit-needy neighborhoods. That’s an undesirable goal. A Northern Blvd or Astoria Blvd line that goes directly to the 63rd Street tunnel, and connects to the future 2nd Ave Subway, would be a good development for this area. But it wouldn’t do anything for getting to the airport, other than shorten the bus trip to something negligible.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 11:08 am

¿Por qué no las dos?

Airport workers in Harlem and perhaps well-to-do UES residents who could benefit from a one-transfer ride to the airport would appreciate a 125 St Subway that ran from 125 and Broadway (1) to Triboro Plaza with additional stops at Frederick Douglass Boulevard (ABCD), Malcom X Boulevard (23), and Park – Lexington Avs (456 and MNCR), then surfacing onto the RFK Bridge and running express along the freeways to Willets Point with only an intermediate stop at Astoria Blvd and one more at LGA.

Everyone who needs or wants local service in Queens can use the brand new local train running in a brand new tunnel under 86 St from the edge of the Hudson River (and eventually Jersey) to Astoria Boulevard and then along Astoria Boulevard straight through to Willets Point.

Josh August 5, 2015 - 10:55 am

I agree with Larry Littlefield – a routing following the Q70 would be great (rail or busway).

Or extend the N to get a better terminal \ increased line capacity as Michael K says.

So many options, so many reasons to not go via Flushing. Time to write letters to elected officials

Ryan August 5, 2015 - 12:53 pm

The best routing for direct rail access to LaGuardia Airport likely involves the N train, and the plan isn’t a novel one.

No it doesn’t. There’s a number of alternatives that are superior from a routing standpoint, a few of which have already been mentioned by others here.

It’s not “The N train, the garbage AirTrain, or nothing.”

Aaron August 5, 2015 - 12:56 pm

Must the airport connection be a subway line? How about LIRR for a direct connection from Penn Station to La Guardia?

What if, and this is pretty crazy, tracks were built branching off of the Amtrak approach to the Hellgate Bridge right after Sunnyside yards. Already elevated, they could curve East over 30th ave and then North over the BQE. The remaining line could be built above a short segment of the BQE and then above the Grand Central. This could then terminate at the airport. No real NIMBYs to worry about since it would mostly be built above many lanes of traffic.

I know platform capacity is maxed out at Penn Station so I’m thinking maybe short (2 car) frequent trains using only the eastern edge of a platfom in Penn which may leave the western end of platform available for NJTransit (not sure if the platforms are long enough for this). It should be a quick ride from Penn to the airport and perhaps they could add an intermediate stop in Queens. Am I nuts?

adirondacker12800 August 5, 2015 - 3:12 pm

The platforms at Penn Station aren’t maxed out. The tunnels are. You’re gonna swap a long LIRR train or Metro North train for a short train to the airport.

Aaron August 5, 2015 - 3:19 pm

Ah. I know the Hudson River tunnels are maxed out but did not realize the LIRR tunnels under the East River were maxed out as well. Then how about running a shuttle from Grand Central instead through the East Side Access tunnels when (if) they are completed?

adirondacker12800 August 5, 2015 - 4:54 pm

Those tunnels don’t come up near the tracks to the Hell Gate Bridge.

Aaron August 5, 2015 - 5:02 pm

I’m confused…I thought East Side Access Tunnels will turn east around 63rd street in Manhattan, run under the East River and emerge in Queens. In this image linked below, I’m suggesting peeling off of the Amtrak initial approach to Hellgate Bridge just to the right of where the image ends. Am I wrong?


BobbyP August 5, 2015 - 1:10 pm

What is the feasibility of a line stretching from the 63rd St. tunnel to La Guardia via 21st St. and 20th Ave.? It seems that the overcrowding on the Astoria Line and increase in building closer to the water more than warrants another line in the western part of Astoria, and this would be a way to build to the airport without adding elevated tracks.

Ryan August 5, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Okay, great! Where are you going to send that line once it gets out of the 63 St Tunnel?

2 Av doesn’t exist yet.

6 Av’s maxed out.

Digging under Central Park to get to 59 or 66 St, or digging (part of) a new downtown trunk line under 3 / Madison / 5 Avs to receive that service is going to eliminate any cost savings quick, plus with the crosstown options you’re right back to that thorny dilemma of having excess capacity which can’t be used.

Solve any one of those problems and you can have your train to LGA via 63 St.

Fbfree August 6, 2015 - 10:08 am

The 6th Ave. local is actually the only Manhattan trunk line that has spare turnback capacity at 2nd Ave. You’d just have to run the M down Broad St.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 10:24 am

I’m actually totally in favor of restoring the Broad Street routing for the M and restoring the V.

Unfortunately, you can’t have the spare turnback capacity used by both the V and the Astoria/LGA service, so we’re right back where we started re: 6 Av being maxed out.

Bolwerk August 6, 2015 - 2:04 pm

F— that. The M on Sixth Ave. has proven really convenient.

(Maybe too convenient. It probably sparked a huge real estate boom in Bushwick and Ridgewood.)

Fraser August 5, 2015 - 1:58 pm

The proposed Airtrain’s purpose is to enable moving airport parking & rental car center to Willett’s Point. A fringe benefit is better transit access. Start with the premise that the LGA redevelopment should reduce delays. The #1 source of delays is insufficient tarmac and gates for flight operations. There are two solutions to increasing tarmac: a) moving the terminal south to the Grand Central Parkway or b) moving the runway north by reclaiming land from Flushing Bay and the East River. Option a has been chosen, which requires the existing use of that land to be relocated. Any alternative plans to improve LGA & its transit access must also explain where the rental car center & parking will be located & how it will be accessed.

Alex B. August 5, 2015 - 3:13 pm

I think this is correct.

In order to create more space for new terminals, they need to move a lot of the existing parking. Moving it off-site would be great, but then you need to get passengers from the parking to the terminal – and that’s where the AirTrain and Citi Field combination comes into play. Since the details are fuzzy on what kind of parking will be available at the new terminal and what they’re planning on building in Flushing, it’s hard to say any more than this.

The other element is finance – FAA rules limit the expenditures on airport improvements only; thus the PA can plausibly finance an AirTrain, but can’t reasonably finance an extension of the subway or some other form of more useful airport transit.

We’ve seen the same issue in DC with the Metro extension to Dulles – the Airports Authority is managing the entire project, but even they can only contribute a small portion of the total cost from their Airport funds – and those funds can only pay for on-airport improvements.

These decisions seem logical if you’re a politician and your goal is to get something done ASAP, but they clearly have a sub-optimal outcome.

adirondacker12800 August 5, 2015 - 4:51 pm

Depends on how you define useful. It’s not very useful for most of the people in Queens. Or out on the Island. Or people in Westchester who are going someplace they can’t get to from Westchester County Airport. Or people who are still gonna take a taxi to the airport when they are spending hundreds of dollars on airfare to go see Grandma in Florida. Or the people who want to get to the rental cars, long term parking, kiss-n-ride, a bus in Flushing…

Fraser August 5, 2015 - 9:48 pm

Like it or not, LGA is an extremely important regional airport for businesses in NYC (due to runway and tarmac constraints it does not handle anything bigger than 737s). Improvements to LGA benefit the economy of the entire region.

Henry August 6, 2015 - 5:55 am

The closure of LGA would actually provide more regional air capacity than it staying open due to the reduction in overlapping airspace, but it’s favored by the elites due to its location, so that isn’t going to happen.

Tower18 August 6, 2015 - 1:45 pm

That may be the case in terms of *planes*, but it would require massive expansion at JFK and EWR to absorb the *passengers*. Sure, the airlines could just upgauge the A319s, 737s, 757s, etc. flying from JFK, but what about the terminals and gates themselves? A hypothetical 10 gates, boarding 130 passengers each, is different than the same 10 gates boarding 250 passengers each.

Additionally, some destinations can’t be served effectively by larger planes, so you’d still have a net increase in flights at JFK and EWR with a LGA closure. I’m not as familiar with EWR as I use JFK, but a frequent problem at JFK is taxi delays and available gate space.

adirondacker12800 August 6, 2015 - 4:26 pm

Replace the stubby little concourses off Terminal A and Terminal B at Newark and they could handle as many passengers as Terminal C. Airtrain would have to be upgraded but they are studying that now.
There’s room for more terminals at JFK. Where the ones they tore down were. Tower Air used to have their terminal off towards Howard Beach. Plenty of space.
Have more flights at Stewart, White Plains, Islip, Bradley, Phildelphia even.
Build an HSR system so that people who are changing planes at LGA, NWK, JFK, PHL and BWI for destinations in the Northeast get on a train instead.

Nathanael August 7, 2015 - 4:58 pm

Oh, but don’t you remember why LaGuardia Airport exists?

The initiative to develop the airport for commercial flights began with an outburst by New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia (in office from 1934 to 1945) upon the arrival of his TWA flight at Newark Airport – the only commercial airport serving the New York City region at the time – as his ticket said “New York”. He demanded to be taken to New York, and ordered the plane to be flown to Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, giving an impromptu press conference to reporters along the way. He urged New Yorkers to support a new airport within their city.[9]”

— Wikipedia

Unfortunately NJ and NY *still* aren’t cooperating. It would be logical to have all of NYC’s air traffic go out of Newark, but nooooo.

adirondacker12800 August 7, 2015 - 5:25 pm

No it wouldn’t. There’s enough people on Long Island to support a major airport. And enough in Northern New Jersey. With Manhattan slung between them.

Long Island would be the 6th or 7th largest metro area in the country. Northern New Jersey would be 11th or 12th.

Fraser August 8, 2015 - 8:55 pm

EWR, JFK & LGA all have roughly the same number of paired landing/take-off slots. EWR can’t be significantly expanded – the runways are too close to be operated independently as is & there is little room for expansion towards I-95. JFK is the only one of the three that can significantly expand.

See: http://library.rpa.org/pdf/RPA.....-Class.pdf

Fraser August 6, 2015 - 1:56 pm

Overlapping airspace is being solved by the FAA’s NexGen air traffic control modernization program.

see: http://library.rpa.org/pdf/RPA.....-Class.pdf

SEAN August 5, 2015 - 4:54 pm

In Miami, a new transit center was constructed ajacent to the Tri-Rail & Metrorail tracks about a mile from the airport. The Miami intermodle Center includes the rental car center, an airport peoplemover & numerous transit connection options. That is sort of what could be done near Citi Field if that’s the plan with the Airtrain.

Eric August 6, 2015 - 6:01 am

“The other element is finance – FAA rules limit the expenditures on airport improvements only; thus the PA can plausibly finance an AirTrain, but can’t reasonably finance an extension of the subway”

Not quite correct. A subway extension can be funded by the PA as long as the only new stops are airport stops, so nobody benefits except airport passengers. This funding method was used to extent the Portland OR light rail to the airport.

Miles Bader August 7, 2015 - 12:30 am

Sooooo, how about just getting rid of the parking altogether, and building a really good transit connection? That way you can avoid the problems with siting the parking lots, and make sure the transit connection is well-utilized! Win-win!

Ditmars August 5, 2015 - 2:28 pm

I live right by the Ditmars Blvd. station, and what makes this section of Astoria a happening neighborhood is that the train isn’t heard much outside of when the brake is pulled (as is the case with all terminals). There isn’t an “other side of the tracks” mentality because the station actually stops short of reaching Ditmars Blvd. Unlike other parts of Astoria, which developed around the elevated line, any overground subway would destroy this section. I understand that Astoria is a growing neighborhood, but there also isn’t much of a demand for subway service here past Ditmars. Astoria residents are steadfast in opposing any overground extension of the N/Q, and Astoria representatives are well aware of their concerns.

The easiest way to connect the N/Q to LaGuardia is to run an AirTrain along the GCP to the Astoria Blvd. station. The PANYNJ should be the ones funding the extension to their airport, no? It is not the responsibility of the MTA to burden themselves with this foolishness.

Michael K August 5, 2015 - 2:30 pm

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the 2,000?

Ditmars August 6, 2015 - 4:54 am

2,000? Really? Please do your research before you frivolously respond. Also, the platforms aren’t wide enough to handle more service. Since land value’s so high in Astoria, there would be havoc if an overground train were to be extended. It’d be like building an elevated line through Manhattan again. The only way Astoria might accept an N/Q extension is if you build it underground (read: Second Avenue Line).

An Astoria Line extension’s not going to happen, and that’s that. Any push would turn out the same way Robert Moses’ overpass expressway through SoHo did.

eo August 6, 2015 - 8:36 am

The rest of the city is not willing to pay for underground tunnel for Astoria, so it is not going to happen. If it will happen in our lifetimes, it will be elevated, otherwise nothing. For good or ill, Astoria is not as influential as the Upper East Side, so the State/MTA will not pay for it.

Michael K August 7, 2015 - 11:26 am

Really? 20th Av? half industrial… for only 8 or 9 blocks. Then four blocks on 21st ave. Hardly more than 2000 people directly impacted.

Nathanael August 7, 2015 - 5:04 pm

So dive underground before the current end-of-line. Astoria Blvd. and Astoria-Ditmars stations both need to be reconstructed anyway for ADA accessibility, so dive somewhere south of Astoria Blvd. and go full-subway to the airport.

And hopefully past it. Personally I think it should go right under Flushing Bay to College Point.

If you’re doing it this way, it’s nearly all deep, deep underground. Astoria won’t complain about the replacement of its two stations with underground stations; the PA will support stations at the Marine Air Terminal and the main terminal; approximately one additional station in Astoria would be justified.

And there’s even a very large open space, *which isn’t a park*, to start the tunneling from, at the location of Flushing Airport. It would go much smoother than any Manhattan project could possibly go.

Nathanael August 7, 2015 - 5:05 pm

There’s even room for a trainyard at the ex-Flushing-Airport location.

Spiderpig August 5, 2015 - 3:34 pm

Would it help if the people who got on and off the N extension at LGA were charged $5 extra a la the AirTrain?

MDC August 5, 2015 - 9:50 pm

Why not build an AirTrain that starts at the intersection of Roosevelt Ave. and Broadway (the Broadway 7 station and the Jackson Heights E/F/M/R station)? There’s an unused triangle of land there, right next to the 7 tracks and the head house that connects the 7 to the other trains. Elevated tracks could be run a couple blocks up Broadway to the BQE, then above the BQE north to Grand Central Parkway. From there it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to LGA.

You’ll have to run the AirTrain viaduct over the Amtrak viaduct, but you’d have to do that with the all-GCP routing too, and I’m pretty sure the Amtrak viaduct is a lot higher where it crosses the GCP.

JQ August 6, 2015 - 9:49 am

The amount of debate here confirms it for me: not ideal… but running the AirTrain from Citi Field is the cheapest, simplest thing to build with the least public opposition. It’s such a short distance, doesn’t violate any neighborhoods and theres enough space.

Henry August 6, 2015 - 9:58 am

If your goal is any train at all, even one headed in the wrong direction and slower/less convenient than existing options, then yeah, it’s the best thing to build.

Airport trains are, generally, a large expenditure for a small amount of people that could be better spent elsewhere.

JQ August 6, 2015 - 11:17 am

Yeah pretty much. It’s the best option all things considered if we really want a train vs buses. It’s either this or we live with only buses going to our shinny new airport.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 2:03 am

Then the debate comes down to whether or not any rail connection is worth it at any cost. I’d say the answer to that is no.

AG August 7, 2015 - 8:10 pm

Well the airport money has to go to something serving the airport… So unless we are using the airport we’re not actually paying for this.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:33 am

Is the entire $4B project being funded out of the PFC? I highly doubt it.

On the list of things that PANYNJ could be doing that aren’t a half billion train to no-man’s land: their bus terminal rebuilding, doing anything minimal in terms of the Gateway or Cross Harbor projects, etc. But of course the few thousand business travelers are more important than the 60,000+ bus commuters who travel through the Lincoln Tunnel every hour during the rush.

AG August 8, 2015 - 2:24 pm

No – most of it is coming from the developer who will get the future airport revenue as their payback. Yeah sure the bus terminal needs to be rebuilt and the cross harbor tunnel needs to be done… None of those could get money from the funds that will pay this project though –

AG August 6, 2015 - 5:02 pm

If you notice – that poster never used the words “best”…. “cheapest” “simplest” “least public opposition is what it is. I don’t even think the governor would say “best”.

JQ August 6, 2015 - 5:09 pm

Yep. Intentionally did not use the work “best” or anything like it because it simply isn’t. I said it was “not ideal.”

Absolutely no one is saying it’s the best. Most pragmatic? Probably.

Elvis Delgado August 6, 2015 - 10:00 am

Perhaps this is an appropriate context in which to reintroduce my idea of turning the Second Avenue Subway to the EAST at 125th Street rather than to the west, as currently proposed.

Crossing under the Harlem River and then under (or over) Randall’s Island, the East River, the industrial areas along the Astoria waterfront, and finally Bowery Bay gets you to LaGuardia by a 99% NIMBY-free route. Is the operators of the Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant really going to have a problem with a train running by?

This also gives users a one-seat express subway ride right down Manhattan’s East Side and then into the Broadway Subway – a much better alternative than any cobbled-together Airtrain route or Astoria line extension.

Maybe I’m missing some obvious flaw here, but it seems like something that should at least be on the table.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 11:12 am

The obvious flaw is that turning 2 Av in any direction at 125 St fucks the Bronx.

The somewhat less obvious flaw is that if you ever want a 125 St crosstown subway you’re stuck making some extremely expensive modifications to 2 Av (since a turn onto 125 precludes building a stop at 125 St – 2 Av).

Bolwerk August 6, 2015 - 1:42 pm

Well, not if we provision now, before the expansion is built. I believe there is provision for an expansion to The Bronx with current plans. The truly forgotten borough could probably not get more than 10 TPH or so out of the deal, but that’s something.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 2:10 pm

I’m still hoping for Phase 2 to be cut back to 116 St (or, even better, cut back to a new terminal at 125 St – 2 Av) as a cost saving measure.

I’ve given up hope on having the terminal for Phase 2 moved into the Bronx and onto 3 Av where it belongs, so I’ll take “cost reduction” instead and at least we’d get a chance to go back and do it right later.

Bolwerk August 6, 2015 - 3:06 pm

But 125th Street/Lex/Park makes the most sense for Lex relief, which is a stated goal of the project.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 3:20 pm

I disagree. If the train is running from 125-2 to some point further south on 2 Av, then everyone walking into the Lexington Avenue Line stations from their residences off 3 Av or Park Av or (obviously) 2 Av can now choose to use the 2 Av train instead. A lot of those people are going to be rational actors and decide to head for 2 Av because they know that Lex Av is going to be way too crowded with people coming from the other side of the river or transferring off of Metro-North at 125 instead of GCT.

The line’s at >100% capacity through the Upper East Side and into Downtown Manhattan, but you can soak up ~50% capacity by giving people everywhere on 2 Av south of 125 St a new option, which gets you relief for the Lex line. If the line’s still running over-capacity, then push for the extension into the Bronx.

Bolwerk August 6, 2015 - 7:06 pm

It would need to be quite an extension into The Bronx to capture all three of those subway lines. However, two (5/6) of them would maybe be relatively modest. But even then you don’t capture the MNRR traffic.

OTOH, if you do get all three of them in The Bronx you could also intersect the D.

Ryan August 6, 2015 - 9:10 pm

The logical end point of the T in the Bronx is at Norwood – 205 St, on a new platform connected to the existing one via mezzanine and with non-revenue track connections between the D and T for yard access.

Obviously, since we couldn’t even get the Manhattan section built in longer than 30 block increments, there’s no way this thing would extend to Norwood immediately, so 149 St is a reasonable stopping point to suck up South Bronx traffic and provide a connection to 56 services (plus the 2, I guess). Again – you don’t need to connect 100% of everybody on the Lexington Avenue Line right now to the Second Avenue subway – if you pull 40% of the capacity usage out of Lexington Avenue and into Second Avenue, it doesn’t matter that 60% of the users are still using Lex services since those trains won’t be crush loaded anymore.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 2:04 am

That’s more of a historical alignment than anything. The most logical place to run two north-south tracks would be alongside the Metro-North line, but ideally it should only run as far north as Pelham Pkwy before turning east and then traveling to Co-op City.

Ryan August 7, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Your options for crossing the Harlem River heading north from 125-2 are Third Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, or Willis Avenue. If you want to bridge the river instead of tunnel under it your alternatives evaporate and you’re left with Third Avenue, Third Avenue, or Third Avenue.

Willis Avenue is a crappy option because it loses you your 6 connection and you end up right back at 3 Av – 149 St anyway, so your options are really Third Avenue to Third Avenue, Lincoln Avenue to Third Avenue, or Lincoln Avenue to Third Avenue to Webster Avenue. Going up Morris Avenue means you lose your 5 connection (or have to build a pedestrian concourse inside fare control at 149 St, which is a pain in the ass), so that’s out. Between Webster and Third, Third Avenue is farther away from existing subway services and is ALSO farther away from the existing Metro-North Line, except at Fordham (where Third Avenue ends and where you’d want the Metro-North transfers to happen anyway).

People who could ride Metro-North from the Bronx into the city are helped more by unfucking Metro-North from an organizational standpoint first, by bumping Park Avenue up to six tracks second, and by building additional infill stations on the Harlem Line as appropriate third.

But the beauty of unfucking the Second Avenue alignment so that 100% of all service continues into the Bronx (or building the express tracks so that 2 Av can support 60+ TPH) is that we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation because there could actually be two branch services serving two completely different areas within the Bronx. We can send one to Norwood and one over Pelham Parkway to Co-Op City, we can send one to Norwood and one to Woodlawn, hell, we could send one to Spuyten Duyvil and one out to Throggs Neck! There’s all sorts of things we could do because we weren’t trying to serve everywhere unserved right now on one singular line.

adirondacker12800 August 7, 2015 - 2:51 pm

Third Avenue is farther away from the …. cliff … that runs along Webster Avenue. Some of the cross streets turn into staircases west of Webster. Webster or Park mean there’s a cliff on one side of the trains. Third means there’s blocks of neighborhood on either side.

Up Third to Fordham Road, Metro North and Fordham University. East on Fordham Road and Pelham Parkway connects to the 2 at White Plains Rd. the 5 at Williamsbrige Rd and the 6 at the multimodal just outside of Co-Op City. Two island platforms like at Queens Plaza with the 6 on one side and the Second Ave train on the other. ( the T? ) Under or over the Metro North station for the New Haven trains going to and from Penn Station. A mezzanine between the two with bus lanes surrounding it for the buses that circulate in Co-Op City. Eastchester Rd. for all the hospitals? Southern Blvd would be nice for the east end of Fordham and the neighborhood south of there.

The T will be sharing frequency with the Q. The D shares frequency with the B or the A. Send the D to Co-Op city too?

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:46 am

125th St is a busy, slow bus corridor in its own right, and it would also boost the subway network by providing a crosstown connection above 59 St, allowing passengers to optimally redistribute themselves throughout the system.

The Bronx is getting a lot of rail projects. Penn Station Access will provide Midtown service for Hunts Point, Parkchester, and Co-op City, while also providing Penn Station access to Riverdale. The argument for two as opposed to one subway service to the Bronx is not very compelling in this context.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:53 am

@adirondacker12800: Park is closer to the cliff, but Third is not a particularly wide street, the route to use it would be slightly longer, and on top of that a curve from Third east on Fordham would be quite severe, to say the least. Current Metro-North patrons heading north to Westchester don’t seem to have a problem with Park.

Send the A to Co-op instead. There are yard tracks heading east on 207 as far as the river. Bridge the river, dig into the cliffs once you get into the Bronx, link it to the new SAS line at Fordham. Voila, you just rail-stituted the Bx12 bus line, which is either first or second or third busiest depending on year, and the Bronx has a brand new crosstown line to Inwood.

AG August 8, 2015 - 2:17 pm

They should have done that with the A and the 3 (up through Highbridge) when they were both built.

Ryan August 8, 2015 - 9:27 am

125th St is a busy, slow bus corridor in its own right, and it would also boost the subway network by providing a crosstown connection above 59 St, allowing passengers to optimally redistribute themselves throughout the system.

It’s a suboptimal crosstown connection even if you dig the rest of the way out to Broadway. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the value of serving 125-2 and the surrounding blocks directly, but certainly you can see the value in direct connections from uptown to northern Queens? And, of course, the demand for additional Hudson crossings is so huge and so pent-up that you can throw a dart at the river on a map of Manhattan and assume that you’ve hit a good place to drop new tunnels. You might get the 2 Av extension into Jersey, some day, eventually, but you won’t get a direct routing from Jersey to Queens unless you keep 2 Av pointed due north. You won’t get two branches of new Bronx service, either, which is a problem since the Bronx needs that.

adirondacker12800 August 8, 2015 - 12:47 pm

Third Avenue used to have an El over it. It’s wide enough for a subway. The curve from Third to Fordham wouldn’t be any worse than the curves subways in Manhattan make. Metro North passengers don’t have to climb up and down the cliff just west of Webster Avenue to get to Park, they are already on a train. Trains that make it difficult to run subway over those tracks.
While throwing a dart at Manhattan and building a tunnel to New Jersey would get passengers there’s all sorts of stuff on the New Jersey side, mostly where the New Jerseyans who would be using it, live. In a few places as densely as Manhattan. While some of them want to go to 125th Street a lot more of them want to go to Midtown or Wall Street. If we are building tunnels the place to dig them is to Midtown or Wall Street.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:35 pm

There’s not much value in connecting Queens to 125th St. Currently the M60 carries about a quarter of bus ridership on 125th St, and of those riders who get on the M60 at 125th St, only a quarter of those actually end up crossing the Triboro. So there’s not much demand for it.

125th is busy in its own right, is super-congested, and is vital enough that it is already given Select Bus Service. Does the Bronx really need two tracks down the West Side and two tracks from Co-op City, Parkchester, and Hunts Point into Manhattan as part of Penn Station Access, and on top of that two additional subway branches? I highly doubt it. The 125th St tracks are planned to go as far west as Lenox, and if you’re that far west you might as well go to Broadway.

Ryan August 9, 2015 - 7:47 am

West Side Access to Penn Station doesn’t do a damn thing for Third Av, which needs a full branch of service into Manhattan. Running New Haven Line trains into Penn Station doesn’t do a damn thing for Throggs Neck, Castle Hill or Soundview and doesn’t really help Hunts Point either with most of Hunts Point being far from the station. All those places want to be connected to each other and, of course, benefit from direct access to Manhattan.

And, of course the crappy bus isn’t doing much for Queensbound traffic. Who is going to get on the bus when they’re in it for a transfer already anyway, and they could transfer to any of the four subway tunnels just a few stops south instead? Connecting 125 to LGA isn’t just about replacing the bus, it’s about sucking up traffic from the 53/60/63 St tunnels (and more imporantly, helping to distribute cross-Hudson traffic to 12 different crossings up and down the coast of Manhattan), especially traffic going to the transit-starved north side of Queens. Same deal with an 86 St crosstown from North Bergen to Astoria Boulevard, same deal with a 72 St crosstown from West New York to Northern Boulevard.

Henry August 9, 2015 - 8:03 am

In a world where money came down from the sky in buckets and massive inflation didn’t happen as a result, then we could talk about subway extension into all the areas that “deserved” it. As it stands, however, the East Bronx and Northern Queens are not particularly high demand areas, if you use the proxy of bus ridership and frequency to existing subway services. I have never argued against a subway service around Third/Webster/Park, and indeed the current setup is geared for exactly that. 125th St, however, is just as vital of a connection as service to Hunts Point is. Astoria Blvd, and to a lesser extent Northern Blvd, are not even the busiest bus corridors in those general areas, either in total ridership or by bus riders/mile (which would go to the Q58 between Ridgewood and Flushing), and they are nowhere near the most transit-starved, ridership heavy neighborhoods in the borough. If anything happens in Queens west of the Van Wyck, they’ll probably link the the Port Washington Line to the upper level of the 63 St tunnel and run a new 63 St tunnel service down to Phases III and IV, since the necessary connecting tunnel was built as part of East Side Access work, and the Q58 which parallels it is the busiest, slowest route in Queens by ridership per mile.

adirondacker12800 August 9, 2015 - 12:09 pm

People in West New York don’t want to go to 72nd Street. People in East Elmhurst don’t want to go to 86th Street. Well some of them do but not as many as want to go to Midtown or Wall Street. Or even Union Square. There’s probably more who want to go to Journal Square or Long Island City. They have as really long walk to their destination or they will transfer to an already crowded subway.

Eric August 7, 2015 - 8:12 am

More logical is to turn east around the Bronx Zoo, and take over the 5 tracks leading to Dyre Ave. Then the 4, 5, and 6 will all have segregated tracks leading into Manhattan, and frequency of the 4 can be doubled.

Henry August 7, 2015 - 10:44 am

I would support that if Dyre Av ridership was higher, but it’s not particularly high and is served adequately by existing service. Providing more north-south service via the SAS is better than providing doubled 4 service, since you wouldn’t really be giving subway service to areas that don’t have it, and a Third/Webster/MNR alignment would take pressure off the GC, WPR, and to a lesser extent the Jerome Av lines.

AG August 7, 2015 - 8:12 pm

Not high enough? During peak hours it is standing room only by the time you get to Gun Hill Road heading downtown.

Henry August 8, 2015 - 5:42 am

During the peak every line is crowded. If you look at annual statistics the Dyre Av line does relatively poorly. Ranked out of 468:

Eastchester – Dyre Av: 339
Baychester Av: 318
Gun Hill Rd: 276
Pelham Pkwy: 371
Morris Park: 398

The busiest station on this line only sees 4600 people a day. More service is not justified, especially if it’s just headed to the East Side, which the 5 already does.

Eric August 9, 2015 - 1:34 pm

In addition to the Dyre Ave passengers, there would be all the 3rd Ave passengers who currently have no nearby subway line, plus maybe some “6” passengers transferring at 3rd Ave. Together, these passengers would easily fill up half of SAS’s capacity (the other half terminating at 125th). At the same time, the “2” and “4” could run many more trains. Essentially everywhere in the Bronx would get subway relief.

Henry August 9, 2015 - 1:48 pm

You can’t add too much 2 service because it has to be evenly spaced with the 3. WPR has had Lexington Av service since before the Dyre line because of that constraint; otherwise making some 2s go express on WPR would create a negative situation similar to the debate with the F express. On top of that we don’t even know if Jerome Av can handled doubled service. It makes more sense to go east from Fordham Plaza and terminate somewhere in Co-op City, maybe Bay Plaza; at least that way you partially railstitute one of the top three busiest bus routes in the city, provide crosstown connections that don’t exist, and open up wider swathes of the Bronx to better transit access.

When you say “turn east at the Bronx Zoo”, do you mean E 180 St or Fordham Rd? Both of those roads are major east-west roads that have zoo entrances, none of which are near Third Av.

Eric August 9, 2015 - 5:25 pm

Is it heresy to suggest eliminating the 3? Probably 🙂

I wasn’t sure where to turn east from 3rd Avenue. 180th St is indirect and misses St Barnabas hospital. Fordham Rd is direct (as long as you go on Lorilland past 184th St), but connecting it to the 5 would eliminate the Morris Park stop. A third possibility is to go under 183rd St and the middle of the zoo, then to cross the 2 at Bronx Park East.

AG August 6, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Don’t give up yet… It’s more likely than getting the subway to go to LGA.

Elvis Delgado August 6, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Neither the current plans for Phase II, nor my alternative, serves the Bronx. But the plans do include a two-track spur continuing north from where the route turns west toward 125th-Lex, and my proposal would retain this – albeit with an eastward rather than a westward turn for the “main” route.

The trade-off then is between a route serving 125th-Lex (where a station already exists) vs. one serving LaGuardia, where there is a crying need for rapid transit service.

d August 6, 2015 - 11:50 am

“Cap’n Transit is right.” – Andrew Cuomo in a parallel universe

Ed August 6, 2015 - 7:08 pm

I apologize for commenting before reading the other 112 comments. I will go back and read them, but the issues here are simple enough that I think I can make a few worthwhile points without additional information.

First, the proposed air train doesn’t just link up with the 7. It links up with the LIRR. I think that is the real reason behind the proposal, to make it easier for people on Long Island to get to the airport. If you can use the LIRR to get to the airport, you don’t have to worry about airport parking, which is not normally a concern for people who live in the city but is a big concern for suburbanites.

I think the effect of NIMBYism is way overstated. The government and the elites in New York have demonstrated they are perfectly capable of running over community activists if they want something. The NIMBYs are just used as an excuse for something they want anyway. And I’m pretty sure what they want in this case is the LIRR connection to the airport.

That said, I would suggest express bus service as the best option, in the sense of being effective while relatively inexpensive and politically unobjectionable, for improving access to La Guardia from city neighborhoods. You can even get some mileage with simple improvements to the existing local bus service, like more and better signs.

I’ve stated here before that an air train that runs between JFK and La Guardia, stopping three to four times in Queens and linking up with the various subways, would be great. It would make it easier to connect between the two airports, and Queens residents could use it as a quick (though more expensive than the subway) way to get between northern and southern Queens. I was essentially shouted down on the grounds that no one wants to do these things. I’ve had situations where my best option, except for the problems of getting between the airports, was to take a flight into La Guardia and fly out of JFK, but OK.

adirondacker12800 August 6, 2015 - 8:35 pm

It makes it easier for people on one branch of the LIRR to get to LaGuardia a bit faster. The rest of them can get off in Jamaica and get to JFK much faster. They could probably get off in Jamaica and take a taxi to LGA faster. Or the E to Jackson Heights and the bus.

Jon Y August 7, 2015 - 8:47 am


adirondacker12800 is right. Willets Point would only benefit the Port Washington Line, which has just 4 stops in Nassau County. Granted, that western portion of the Port Washington Line is underutilized and under capacity, so it can run extra shuttles from Penn during the off-peak period (and GC once ESA opens too) likely to Mets Willets Point. As part of the agreement with Related Co on decking the West Side Yard, Related spruced up the yard facility at Mets-Willets Point, so that can now handle more trains and traffic.

The best alternative IMO is to combine the two major ideas together, sort of like the JFK AirTrain does. Have a connection from the IRT Flushing Line (whether at Willets Point, Woodside or 72/Roosevelt) to the NQ (and eventually the W) at Astoria Blvd. The AirTrain would basically through-run between the two stations, giving substantial transit access to the airport. This is exactly the same thought process as the JFK AirTrain connecting to Jamaica and Howard Beach.

mike August 11, 2015 - 11:26 am

ok I know this might sound like a shot in the dark but here it goes. Leave the AirTran as it is but add to it I think that people will respond to it once it is built. I would however do a few things to really make I worth it and get many more people use it not just travelers on the airlines but all the workers who go to work daily people in the surrounding neighborhoods.


1. Expand it to the south and have it connect to LIRR Jamaica train station have it run in the middle of Grand Central Parkway and then split off to the Van Wyck at the Kew Garden interchange to Jamaica station this would help connect the rest of the Main Line to all of Long Island. On any given day from 6 am to 10 am then 2 pm to 10 pm if you had to take a cab vie versa to either airport it would cost lots of money and time when an AirTran could cost 6 bucks and a smooth traffic less experience in 20 mins ( give or take).

2. To the North and West I would connect it to the N train at Astoria Blvd as a terminal there it would also benefit that area in terms that some people ( not all) locals that is would probably use it as a way to a Met game. If you live in Astoria instead of taking the N to the 7 train to get to the Mets it will give people another choice that I think some will do instead of 20 stations to get to the game this would be give or take 5 with the plane terminals and a short walk to the stadium.

3. I would have a spin off a little after the BQE/Grand Central like the AirTran at JFK has to the A line. and I would make a little transit hub at Northern BLVD and Broadway which currently connects to the M and R train. I would like to also see the Metro North build a station there as the Amtrak line is right above the station as well. When Metro North creates stations in the Bronx they are forgetting about Queens, for people to get to Queens from the Bronx and to Connecticut and beyond is a long trip this would cut that in half. I would just have it be Metro North and not Amtrak though.


1. I would expand the R line after that Boardway/Northern BLVD stop I would have it go East bound on Northern BLVD and create a station or two on Northern BLVD this would ease traffic on the 7 line and give people more options I would then have the R turn North Bound on Junction Blvd/ 94th street have a stop or two there with the terminal before the Grand Central Parkway which is within walking distance to the Airport.

2. With the R splitting of at Northern Blvd I would then have the G train make a return to 71st street Continental Ave now I know this means they would have 3 train lines running on a local track but those stations are so busy I don’t think they would mind the additional trains (36th street, Steinway and Northern Blvd). The G would have to be increased to 8 trains long. I would also extend M service and have the M train run local to 179 Street and give that area more trains, in the midnight hours I would have the M train terminate at 71st.

I think some people kind of touched on these earlier but I think this is just a little different.


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