When all of the proposed plans in the current MTA Capital Budget are finished, Brooklyn and the Bronx will still have better rail service and Queens will still be left with congested stations. A straphanger boarding one of Queens’ 78 New York City Transit train stations will still experience crowding at a rate 30 percent greater than that of a Brooklyn or Bronx traveler.
Queens has been oft-ignored for new rail line projects to address the transit desert crisis that has long plagued the borough. Our borough’s population is growing fast, nearing 2.4 million, and yet our infrastructure has not come close to matching that growth. Queens is the most diverse place in the entire country—with half of our residents foreign born. Our businesses reflect that diversity, and many of our shops and restaurants are rich with ethnic authenticity. We are a tourist destination without the proper public transit system for tourists to reach us.
The MTA recently announced its $51.5 billion 5-year Capital Plan to fix New York City’s transit system. And yet that plan still does not address many areas of Queens that have suffered generations of transit neglect.
New subway stops and rail lines are incredibly costly. The most recent MTA project, the 2nd Avenue Subway, had a $2.5 billion per mile cost of construction or roughly over $1 billion per station. Queens would obviously benefit from brand-new rail lines—but that is not what we are asking for. The most cost-effective solution for Queens happens to be the most feasible solution for Queens. Use existing Long Island Railroad commuter and freight lines as NYC Transit lines to expand service.
Build The QNS.
Reactivating the Lower Montauk Branch of the LIRR for NYC Transit Fares would connect residents to jobs in booming industrial hubs, student to major universities, and families to world class cultural institutions. It would connect the fastest growing census tract in the United States to the third largest transit hub in New York City, providing opportunities for new market rate and affordable housing, while helping to reduce Queens’ carbon footprint. It would service approximately 6.6 million passengers annually, promote better connections to green space, provide opportunities for safe bike paths while helping to reduce congestion on our roads.
And most importantly, the QNS would bring 9 transit stops to neglected areas of Queens without costing New York City taxpayers money. No new tracks are needed, as the QNS repurposes currently existing freight tracks.
By providing new service to hundreds of thousands of Queens residents living in areas currently considered a transit desert, the MTA will decrease commuting times for straphangers and increase the area of Queens served by the subway by 13 percent. This project will expand transit system capacity, add to the transit system resiliency, and allow for less disruptive repairs.
The QNS would help rejuvenate Queens. New expanded transit service would provide much needed opportunity for emerging small businesses and development of new market and affordable housing that is desperately needed for our Queens residents. For too long, we have seen our young people flee the borough due to lack of convenience, often flocking to areas rich with transit opportunities.
It is well past time that our public transit opportunities caught up with our borough’s growth. The QNS is that solution.
Former NYC Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley calling for expanded service in Queens. Ms. Crowley is currently the Chair of Friends of the QNS.