Transit group advocates for a future light rail system throughout Queens

Map courtesy Queens Public Transit Committee

One lawmaker’s light rail proposal should go beyond Glendale and into southern Queens, according to a local transit advocacy group.

As Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s light rail plan for Glendale continues to gain traction, the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC) has ideas on how to expand the system into other parts of southern Queens.

During last month’s Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Public Transit and Transportation Committees joint meeting, Crowley pitched her light rail plan to the community board, hoping to gain their support. Carl Perrera, second treasurer of the QPTC, was in attendance at the meeting and wrote the councilwoman a letter explaining his group’s ideas on an expanded light rail line.

“I agree that light rail along the [Long Island Railroad] Montauk Line needs to be explored including east of your district in Richmond Hill and Jamaica, as well as adding a southern spur around the area of Woodhaven Boulevard in Glendale into the former Rockaway Beach Line, also now referred to as the QueensRail by our Queens Public Transit Committee advocacy group,” Perrera said in the letter.

The Rockaway Beach line last saw rail activity in 1962; the line south of Liberty Avenue was added to the A line of the New York City Transit system, while the rest of the branch between Rego Park and Ozone Park was left abandoned. Park advocates are now working to convert the abandoned areas of the line into a linear park dubbed the QueensWay.

Crowley understands the need to bring transportation options to the lesser served areas of the borough and can see the merit in QPTC’s ideas to extend her plan.

“There is a clear need for better and expanded public transportation in Queens. Establishing light rail from Glendale to Long Island City is a very crucial first step in what could ultimately be a successful commuter service throughout the whole borough,” Crowley said in an email to the Ridgewood Times. “I look forward to working with the Queens Public Transit Committee and thank them for their support.”

Perrera outlined a plan that would bring light rail to the Rockaway Beach Line, provide new connecting platforms, as well as a list of stations along the line that could potentially be added.

“A proposed light rail plan along the Rockaway Beach Line could also be created as a second branch for light rail service thereby providing service between Long Island City and the Aqueduct Racetrack Station for access to and from the Resorts World Racino,” Perrera wrote. “Additionally … many other light rail stations could be added along the Rockaway Beach Branch including a light rail station adjacent to the Forest View Crescent Co-op located at 90-50 Union Tpke. in Glendale.”

Much like Crowley, Perrera sees a light rail line as an economic benefit to the communities it would serve, bringing riders to shopping centers and connecting them with other train lines.

“Light rail service along the LIRR Montauk Line would also provide easier access for shoppers to access The Shops At Atlas Park shopping mall, the Metro Mall, Fresh Pond Road shopping areas, connection to the LIRR, the AirTrain and E [and] J subways in Jamaica [and] easily connect workers to the businesses located within industrial areas of Maspeth,” Perrera said in an email to the Ridgewood Times.

The letter highlighted that community concerns could arise from bringing a light rail system through the communities, but that the QPTC believes an expanded light rail plan would be the best option.

“I realize that community opposition coming from the Rego Park/Forest Hills neighborhood is a concern,” Perrera wrote. “However, it should be pointed out that the area behind the homes along Alderton Street/Selfridge Street in Rego Park would be avoided under this light rail plan,” adding, “it should be noted that light rail is less noisy [than] conventional subway and LIRR trains and that the Woodhaven community may welcome this plan over heavy rail — subway or LIRR — or the Queensway park plan.”