You are reading

Gov. Hochul Seeks Alternatives to LGA AirTrain, Queens Pols Call for the Project to be Scrapped

Rendering of the LaGuardia AirTrain project (A Better Way to LGA)

Oct. 5, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Several Queens lawmakers want Gov. Kathy Hochul to kill the controversial LaGuardia AirTrain project altogether after she announced Monday that she has directed the Port Authority to review other options.

The lawmakers want Hochul to officially slam the lid on the $2 billion plan to build a 1.5-mile rail line from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport — a proposal, and so-called “pet project”, of disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“New Yorkers deserve world-class transportation to world-class airports,” Hochul said in a statement Monday. “I have asked the Port Authority to thoroughly examine alternative mass transit solutions for reducing car traffic and increasing connectivity to LaGuardia Airport.”

Lawmakers, however, want her to clarify if this means she will take the AirTrain plan off the table completely.

“This is great movement in the right direction,” State Sen. Jessica Ramos said on Twitter. “The next step is to define with more clarity what this means in practice.”

Hochul released the statement just hours ahead of a planned press conference during which several legislators denounced the AirTrain plan, which has faced continuous criticism since Cuomo announced it in 2015.

State Senators Ramos, Michael Gianaris, Leroy Comrie, John Liu, Toby Ann Stavisky, along with Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas and a representative from the Queens Borough President Office joined local community groups to call for an immediate withdrawal of the AirTrain plans.

Ramos and Stavisky both called the AirTrain project a “boondoggle” and González-Rojas said it is a “$2 billion vanity project”.

A review of the LGA #AirTrain project isn’t enough, we need a full halt,” Ramos said. “The $2B can better serve our community by updating our infrastructure and by creating a transportation system that actually serves our neighbors increasing their access to public transit.”

Many New Yorkers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have called the AirTrain route illogical because it would make riders from Manhattan travel past the airport to Willets Point to then backtrack to the airport. The Willets Point station would connect the 7 train and Long Island Railroad with the LaGuardia AirTrain.

LaGuardia AirTrain route (A Better Way to LGA)

Gianaris said it’s not the best option for getting people to and from the airport and added that its price tag has continuously swollen.

“The proposed LGA AirTrain is four times over-budget and not the best option for increasing airport access,” Gianaris said. “We need a community-centered plan that gets people out of cars, on to mass transit, and to and from LGA faster. Reliable transit is possible — but this plan is NOT it.”

Several critics of the plan are also concerned about the environmental impact it will have on the nearby Flushing Bay and say that it will reduce the quality of life for residents who live close by.

González-Rojas expressed some of these same concerns.

The environmental and economic costs of the AirTrain project are too high and have had no transparency,” González-Rojas said. “Our communities are better served seeing this kind of investment improving our transit system and meeting other needs. @GovKathyHochul the plan should be halted.”

Community groups, environmental activists, watchdogs and transportation advocates also joined the press conference to call on Hochul to halt the plans.

Watchdog group Reinvent Albany, A Sensible Way to LGA Coalition, Riverkeeper, Guardians of Flushing Bay, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Riders Alliance all participated in the press conference.

The project, however, does have some longtime supporters such as the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry.

“To do nothing by blocking LaGuardia AirTrain, as some of my colleagues in elected office now want, means that we will have no opportunity for success and more and more cars on the roads and in and out of our community for generations to come,” Aubry told the New York Post.

email the author: [email protected]

13 Comments

Click for Comments 
Steven Persoff

The best option and I am NOT political is a line from LaGuardia Airport and Woodside LIRR and subway system

Reply
Gardens Watcher

NYS is broke and anything connected to Cuomo is politically toxic, so this was an easy NO for Gov. Hochul.

Too bad, because this plan to connect LGA with the LIRR was a better option than others, both for travelers from NYC and Long Island.

Frequent flyers (especially business travelers) from Manhattan are not going to take multiple buses to get to LGA. They are going to use car service, cabs, Uber, etc. and continue to clog the Grand Central.

1
1
Reply
Dietmar Detering

Brava, Hochul, for taking this project in for another review. While the air train is nice, it’s biggest problem is costs. Unfortunately, that’s also the problem with a subway extension. (And then there are additional problems, as always.) We just can’t pay for nice things anymore because we have legislated public construction into un-affordability. Until that changes, the greatest number of people can be helped for the least amount of money by making the Q60 and Q70 SBS buses free of charge and run them more frequently. Yes, transfers from MTA buses and subways are free, but you still have to pay if you board from LIRR or directly. Boarding at LGA would be more popular if it would be free first. With rising popularity, find ways to make the buses faster. It’s not going to look shiny, but many more people will be helped and the cost (to tax payers) will be much less.

4
1
Reply
Point A to Point B

I have been to many of the world’s major cities: London, Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels and they all have easy to use, direct rail links from city center to their main airports. Hop on a train in the middle of town and 20-30 minutes later you are in the terminal. No drama. Only in NYC is it such a time- consuming and tedious odyssey. Embarassing really.

Reply
Rita

There will be less resistance from the highly progressive voters in the Ditmars area and from Tiffany Caban who is projected to be elected city council. It is also Senators Michael Gianaris’ district and he will be all for it because it will not be going through a minority neighborhood. Plus it will also help their voters get to LGA faster to visit family and friends during the holidays and increase the restaurant business in the ditmars area.

Reply
Larry Penner

David defeated Goliath (Cuomo and all his Pay to Play Special Interest People such as consultants construction contractors and unions who sent him campaign contributions hoping for a piece of the $2 billion action) won. Since Cuomo failed to deliver, will they now ask Cuomo for refunds from his $18 million campaign reelection fund that he no longer needs, The best alternative for the LaGuardia Air Train still remains extending the N & W subway lines. Other options include (1) asking the New York City Economic Development Corporation to extend one of the private ferry operator routes that stop in Astoria, Hunters Point, Long Island City, East 34th Street and Pier 11 in the Financial District to connect with the Airport, (2) have NYC Transit Bus introduce Select Bus Service or a closed door one stop connection from Flushing to LaGuardia Airport Q48 bus and (3) ask the City of Glen Cove to add an interim stop to serve LaGuardia Airport on their future route to Pier 11 in the Financial District anticipated to start service some time in 2022. Airport Passenger Fees might be a potential funding source to pay for a portion of any direct subway extension to LaGuardia Airport. Check out the link to Federal Aviation Administration https://www.faa.gov/airports/pfc/pfc_updates/media/pfc_75_21_rail_access_policy.pdf. There is also the Federal Transit Administration national competitive New Starts program.

(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road, MTA Bus, NYC Department of Transportation along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)..

2
1
Reply
I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride it where I like!

The solution is simple, let’s build a bike boulevard all the way from Manhattan to LGA. We could have an express lane for Rickshaws. Jimmy get on the case right now before it’s to late. This could be your legacy.
I think it’s a wheelie great idea!

12
6
Reply
For the people, no for themselves

Completely political. With Cuomo hinting he might run for public office again, Hochul, Kim, AOC and the rest want to squash whatever name recognition Cuomo has so Hochul and whatever Progressive troll who wants to run can run without dividing votes. Hochul is just part of the swamp water politics in this country. Dirty and corrupt.

5
6
Reply
Jim

No matter what they come up with someone will complain or protest. This is New York. The only politicians who get things done are dictators like Cuomo.

3
5
Reply
Anonymous

The best way is to extend the N subway line past Ditmars Blvd and let it run along the water to LGA. One subway fare and accessible to everyone. You can even put another one or two stations along the route where there is no subway connection. However, watch hour fast Gianaris will say, “Not in my neighborhood of Astoria!” even though it is the best answer.

14
2
Reply
HA. OK.

A 1.5 mile was going to cost 2 billion. Extending the N is going to cost 20 billion.

The Second Avenue extension is a perfect example.

MTA is already 15 billion in debt.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

What the Five Ballot Proposal Questions Mean for New Yorkers this November

The city is not just choosing a new mayor in November. This fall, New York voters must also decide on five proposed changes to the state constitution.

Five ballot proposals are up for a vote in the general election on Nov. 2. They include questions on the future of political representation in Albany, environmental protections, easier voter registration and absentee balloting, and how New York’s civil courts function.The full text of the five proposals are listed on the Board of Elections website and at Ballotpedia, the nonprofit political encyclopedia. But voters who aren’t political mavens may need a bit of context: