2017-06-02 / Columnists

Queens Chamber Of Commerce Leaves Albany Empty Handed

Transit Talk
By Larry Penner

When it comes to public transportation needs, those who joined the Queens Chamber of Commerce trip to Albany left empty handed with no real firm financial commitments. Elected officials failed to provide any specific information on how they will come up with funding to implement any of the following transportation projects advocated by those lobbying them.

The list includes but is not limited to the following projects or proposals. All 14 members of the Queens NYC Council delegation are supporting the Commuter Rail Fare Equalization Proposal. This would allow NYC residents to pay the same $2.75 fare on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro North Rail Road as riding the NYC Transit Subway and provide a free transfer to the NYC subway. Will Albany or City Hall provide the MTA with $200 million to cover the cost? Another $200 million is needed to provide 1/2 fare Metro Cards for several hundred thousand poor residents earning less than $26,000 per year.

Some Rockaway residents will be looking for $91 million toward the up to $400 million Woodhaven Blvd. Select Bus Service. This is necessary to pay for the full build out of Woodhaven

Blvd. Select Bus Service up to $381 million Phase 2 project scope. These dollars may be necessary if NYCDOT is unable to secure $91 million in United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding. Other Rockaway residents consider restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion a higher priority than Woodhaven Blvd Select Bus Service. Price tag for restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch could end up costing hundreds of millions up to another $1 billion more. This will be determined based upon release of the ongoing MTA feasibility study which was promised to be released by the end of June.

Other Queens residents support $100 million to construct Light Rail between Jamaica and Long Island City on the old Lower Montauk LIRR branch; Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn for $2 billion); Main Street Flushing Intermodal Bus Terminal $100 million, reopening the Woodhaven Blvd Atlantic Branch LIRR Station $40 million and the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector at a cost of $2.5 billion. This would connect various neighborhoods along the waterfront from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens.

Many neighborhoods are looking for introduction of either Select Bus Service (SBS); Bus Rapid Transit (BRT); Limited Stop Bus to Subway or Express Bus Service to Manhattan. There is still the need to bring many of the 78 Queens subway and 21 LIRR stations back up to a state of good repair. Don't forget the need for additional subway and LIRR stations to become fully compliant with the Americans for Disability Act (ADA) by construction of elevators.

Where do Queens State Senators and Assembly members think Albany will find the cash for all these projects? The US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration may be a possible funding sources for some of these projects. It is doubtful Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council will come up with any significant new funding for any of these projects. Clearly New York State will have to contribute some significant funding if many of these projects will ever see the light of day.

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