By Bianca Fortis
Trains were already rolling through Tuesday when the Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park hosted a grand opening of the Aqueduct Racetrack train station.
The station, served by the A train, has traditionally been open only on race days, but now it will be open 24 hours a day after the casino put forward the funds to revamp it.
Resorts World President Edward Farrell said the station is actually one of the oldest in the current Metropolitan Transportation Authority system. Years of work and about $15 million went into renovations and making the project happen, he said.
He said upgrades included bringing the station up to code and making it ADA-compliant.
“We’ve definitely learned a lot over the last few years,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned is that train stations are not free. In fact, they’re very, very expensive.”
The project also includes an above-ground, climate-controlled “skybridge” that runs from the station directly into the casino.
“Rain or shine, 24 hours, seven days a week, the skybridge is open so that you can get to the casino,” Farrell said.
The casino sees about 12 million people per year, Farrell said.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said before the casino was built two years ago, lifelong residents had considered moving away out of concern over what would be built at the casino site.
He commended the casino for being a “good neighbor” to residents of Ozone Park.
“What we were looking for in the state Legislature was just a good neighbor,” he said. “Somebody who’s going to be here long-term and be a good neighbor to our people.
He called the latest project another successful step for the casino.
State Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach), who described Resorts World as a world-class partner, said the racino has generated $1.2 billion in revenues and some of that has been directed toward state education.
“It’s not just about how much money is being gambled, but how much is being put back, reinvested into the local economy, reinvested into local community organizations and reinvested back into our family’s pockets,” he said.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, said subway ridership is expected to increase, although the MTA did not have a specific estimate. f
“That’s the whole premise,” he said. “We’re opening the station 24/7 to accommodate not only patrons but employees.”
When asked if the casino is concerned nearby residents may use its parking lot just to ride the train, Resorts spokeswoman Kerri Lyon said “the Resorts World Casino New York parking lot is for casino patrons.”
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.