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Op-Ed: Double Down MTA, Queens Needs More Trains

QNS rendering courtesy of Friends of the QNS

Nov. 2, 2022 Op-Ed By Juan Ardila, Democratic Candidate for New York State Assembly District 37

Give credit where credit is due with the Interborough Express proposed by Gov. Hochul: For a governor to finally take notice of an underused freight-rail line running from Brooklyn into Queens, and pushing to convert that line to passenger rail, is an idea whose time has finally come. The IBX, as proposed, would run 14 miles through these two boroughs without going through Manhattan. The governor and the MTA, in other words, are taking a real interest in helping all New Yorkers with their daily commute, and not just those traveling to Manhattan.

Moving away from Manhattan-centered planning is what Queens and the outer boroughs have long deserved, and addressing the mass transit needs of some of our long-marooned communities simply makes sense. Converting this long right-of-way from freight to commuter rail, as opposed to asking the MTA to build out entirely new and expensive infrastructure, is cost-effective. It also makes environmental sense as it helps to alleviate our city’s dependence on automobiles, which currently crowd our streets and highways. Lastly, it makes economic sense, because the city benefits when more people have better mass-transit access to jobs, schools, and other essential places like daycares and hospitals.

But I implore the governor and the MTA: Don’t stop there. Keep going and double down by revisiting the QNS plan, a recently studied proposal to reactivate and repurpose freight rail along the Lower Montauk Branch which runs through central Queens and can connect Long Island City to nearby neighborhoods like Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village — all the way to Jamaica. The governor can help us make Queens, the MTA’s most underserved borough after Staten Island, the sort of inter-connected, environmentally friendly, economic powerhouse it was meant to be.

Map courtesy of Friends of the QNS

The IBX and the QNS lines are also remarkably similar. Both are publicly owned right-of-ways that have been used sparingly for years by freight-rail companies. Both can be converted comparatively cheaply, by infrastructure-expense standards, to include passenger service, sharing the same space with freight. Passenger service can run during the day and freight can run in the off-hours. The QNS would be 90 percent less expensive to build out per mile than the Second Ave. subway plan by comparison.

Moreover, both the IBX plan and the QNS both call for a planned stop at Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village, which could turn this growing neighborhood into a mass transportation hub. If both lines are built, a 14-mile line would have 23 miles of new interconnectivity. This would be groundbreaking for those who live along these lines.

Right now, many of the areas where the unused QNS line lies are commonly referred to as transit deserts. What’s it like to live in a transit desert? I happen to know because I live in Maspeth. I can walk faster than most of the local buses through my neighborhood. People around here own cars out of necessity, not as a luxury. That’s not how New Yorkers should live.

This is no charity request either. Queens’ population has been exploding in recent decades. Long Island City is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in all of America, period, while neighborhoods like Ridgewood and Jamaica are only getting more populated. Neighborhoods along the QNS line are home to thousands of workers from all trades who are looking for better ways to get around. Approximately 95,000 existing jobs and three of NYC’s most important industrial business zones lie within a half-mile of the QNS line, so if both the IBX and the QNS are built, those workers will have a real chance of finding better jobs across the entire region with greater access to mass transportation.

What’s more, the nonprofit advocacy group Friends of the QNS, which has been promoting reactivating the Lower Montauk line for more than half a decade, has spent this summer working with a bicycle advocacy group here in Queens to promote a greenway that could be added alongside the train line. The DOT and the MTA should review these proposals, because, despite all the pressures and complaints from drivers about congestion and parking, we have to find a way to share our city with bikes and other alternative forms of transportation.

Juan Ardila (Photo Provided by Friends of Juan)

I was glad to recently see that the QNS line was included in the MTA’s list of ideal projects in its 20-year Needs Assessment report (a 2018 DOT feasibility report has already made it clear that the proposal is feasible). Rather than simply adding it onto a long list of to-do projects that may never get done, let’s make this one happen.

  • Juan Ardila is a Democratic and Working Families Party candidate for New York State Assembly in District 37, running to represent portions of Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside.

 

email the author: [email protected]

20 Comments

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George stein

Hey Juan go ask the people of maspeth and middle village if they want a train. It’s one reason our neighborhood stayed safe. No graffiti, no filthy people harassing women. No beggers. Go to Jackson heights and keep these people there

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Anonymous

This project should become a regular, new subway line with a new letter or number added to the subway system with the normal transfers. It should not be a separate system.

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No way mister

I live in maspeth,
maspeth is going down the tubes. A train will kill maspeth.
Also,
There’s no way you can walk to maspeth faster than the bus. Stop lying.
We don’t want trains in maspeth and middle village. Trains ruin neighborhoods. Look at the whole stretch of roosevelt ave under that train, there might be like 4 safe blocks from 48st to main street.
Just another way for undesirable people to come to our neighborhood. Don’t need it, don’t want it!

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Terence Sweeney

I’m a 3rd generation Maspeth resident my kids and grandchildren are 4th and 5th. We are and as are most of our neighbors all for either a LIRR or subway station. The buses are too slow and way overcrowded. That’s a fact. I drove to my job my entire life until retirement but my late wife and two daughters had to take the bus up to Grand Ave which tacked on an additional 30 or 40 minutes to a five mile commute to midtown Manhattan. That’s absurd. Our entire family and most of our neighbors sent and continue to send our children to Catholic schools which because of Maspeth and Middle Village location, being cut off from the grid by multiple cemeteries, requires the kids to spend way too much time in transit. It shouldn’t require them to have to take some much time out their day just to get to and from schools which in actuality aren’t far from where we all live. Also to the person posting against the new access, trains and subways actually increase home and property values in NYC and most large urban centers. You’re totally off on that remark. I also question your crime allegation as well. South Jamaica and much of Corona are transit deserts and have exponentially higher crime than Forest Hills, Briarwood Hunters Point and Sunnyside which all have subway access.

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Jim Magee

What are you talking about? Are you saying that Maspeth is currently going down the tubes without a train or that it will if a train connects it.

Trains kill neighborhoods? First of all, the whole City is pretty much connected by a train. Are you saying all of those neighborhoods are destroyed? LIC and Brooklyn Heights? The Upper West Side and Greenwich Village?

I live in Sunnyside next to the elevated 7. It’s very nice. My in laws live in J Heights, that’s very nice too.

I am very happy Juan is pushing this idea.

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Stay on roosevelt

Yes. Keep your train in sunnyside and Jackson heights. As far as sunnyside being nice, then why is there alway a post, every week about some guy groping a woman, exposing himself . all the crime in Jackson Heights. Trains are a safe haven for these dirtbags. We dont want this in maspeth or middle village. Your either blind or you don’t want to see it. Maspeth is starting to go downhill fast I guess you never traveled thru there. Wake up.

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Angry and obsolete is no way to go through life

How could Maspeth be going down there is no train there yet?

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Lela

“A bicycle advocacy group?” You mean the group everyone but cyclists hates, Transportation Alternatives? I don’t blame you for wanting to hide your association, they deserve every bit of the ire they’ve roused in people who can’t solve their transportation needs on a bike. If you could find a way to get the menaces off public streets and put them safely on their own travel way next to trains you would earn the love of, well, everyone but them.

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Queens Streets for Haters

Finally, they admit what we knew all along! Queens Streets for All supporters hate all bikers! You heard it here.

@Juan Ardila, please ignore this hate group who will invariably approach your office posing as a legitimate group.

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Working class and drives an Audi?

So you want more people to use public transportation, will you be giving up driving your Audi?

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If you want an Audi get a better job

You come across as jealous. You need a cat in Maspeth. Fact!!

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Anonymous

The Assemblymember elect is for bike lanes, closed streets and wants to make it harder to drive and own cars. He talks about the working class and then is pictured driving an Audi. Sorry those are the facts.

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if you want to preach become a preacher

you come across as sanctimonious…you need a dog in maspeth…Fact!!

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Anonymous

Already got a dog, Fact! Btw, not sanctimonious, just calling out hypocrisy. Double Fact!

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