When it comes to Rockaway transit, QBP Melinda Katz has failed to deliver
When it comes to public transportation, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz's past "State of Queens" speech made for some great sound bites but provided little substance. Ms. Katz failed to provide any specific information on how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Depart- ment of Transportation will come up with funding to implement any of the following transportation projects advocated by many other Queens elected officials, constituents and transit advocates. Just where does Katz stand on these ideas? What is her order of priority for funding?
Some Rockaway residents will be looking for $91 million toward the $400 million Woodhaven Boule- vard Select Bus Service. 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 are looking for restoration of Long Island Rail Road service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion. Don't forget introduction of weekend discounted City Zone tickets to ride the LIRR from the Far Rockaway Station..
All 14 members of the Queens NYC Council Member 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. How will NYC 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.
The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane base line budget of $450 million will require up to an additional $550 million, in the years to come. The final cost may be closer to $1 billion.
Some Queens residents will continue to lobby for $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 St- reet 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 Long Island Rail Road 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 does Katz think the MTA will find the cash for all these projects? The US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration and State may be possible funding sources for some of these projects. This assumes for many of these proposed new capital transportation projects that Congress is successful in defeating President Trump’s recently re- leased budget proposals to significantly reduce or eliminate the USDOT FTA New and Small Starts Capital Programs. Clearly NYC will have to contribute some significant funding if many of these projects will ever see the light of day.
Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office