Want ‘Crosstown’ Train Over QueensWay
The Queens Public Transit Committee held a rally on the Elmhurst/Rego Park border last Sunday, Nov. 16. to support the reactivation of the defunct Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) branch and to raise awareness around transportation issues in the borough.
The rally near Woodhaven and Queens boulevards was held for two other reasons, according to Queens Public Transit Committee founder Phil McManus: To organize and recruit additional supporters of more transportation options in the borough.
“We seek to unite Queens and city residents and fight for faster transportation and prosperity,” McManus wrote to the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday.
“We want to build a group that gets back into the political process,” he stated.
At the rally, supporters of the RBL brought posters, petitions, and informational flyers to educate, motivate, recruit and organize the public to fight for the restoration of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, according to McManus.
Two competing proposals for the abandoned tracks–the first would reactivate the RBL–are vying for attention and public money in the last year. The other, the QueensWay plan, would build a linear park atop the abandoned tracks.
A survey conducted by the Queens College Department of Urban Studies that was mailed to south Queens residents to gauge opinions on the options was not completed by many, and didn’t clear the issue significantly.
“We are fighting for faster trains, including the RBL,” McManus said. “It’s not just a Rockaway thing, it will benefit everybody, not just Queens.”
As recently reported in this paper, the survey asked residents to choose from four different options for the Rockaway Beach line: Reactivating rail service, developing the QueensWay, creating a hybrid rail-park plan or leaving the line fallow.
As reported, a plurality of respondents, 33.9 percent, favored re-introducing some form of rail service. The QueensWay came in second with 28.1 percent, followed by the hybrid plan with 18.2 percent and the as-is option with 10.2 percent.
Though McManus has been advocating for its reactivation, calling the RBL, “The New Queens Crosstown,” he also wants the Rockaway Ferry to be fully funded, and for the only within county toll in the state at the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge which connects Rockaway with mainland Queens to be dropped.
McManus said he believes the survey was ignored by many because people are disengaged from civic and political processes.
“Sadly, I’m disappointed that more people didn’t get involved in the process,” he said.
“I’m not sure about the survey, there wasn’t enough people,” McManus stated. “I think there are some anomalies.”
He also believes that people are overwhelmed by the issues in Rockaway and have to begun to only focus on a few options, like the ferry.
“There are so many issues in Rockaway, I think some people just said ‘I’ll support the ferry,'” he added.
“I think it has a lot to do with confusion,” he said. “They may have gone against it because they supported the ferry. I think there is a lot of confusion there, disunity.”
Though the survey was muddled and inconclusive, and the battle between the different options is likely to go on for quite a while, McManus said the group will continue to advocate for batter transportation options for the borough, including the reactivation of the RBL.
“We are going to rally, meet, write, call and speak up constantly for the new Queens Crosstown,” he wrote.
“One of the things that I learned from the Queens College study is we need to get the word out,” McManus said. “That’s what the rallies are for. Little by little it gets bigger and bigger.”
“This is not going to be one rally, once in a while,” he said.