Queens transit group calls for more information about $2.5 billion streetcar plan

BQX image
Photo Courtesy of Brooklyn Queens Connector

A Queens-based group of transit activists isn’t thrilled with the mayor’s Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar plan.

The Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC), a grassroots organization focused on bettering all modes of transportation across the borough, believes a streetcar running along the East River could cause problems for drivers around that area, although more information on the mayor’s plan is needed, they said.

“The Queens Public Transit Committee is in favor of anything that improves transportation for Queens and the region, but we feel that there is not enough information available to evaluate the mayor’s proposal for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar along the East River waterfront at this time,” said Eugene Falik, QPTC webmaster.

One thing that is known about the mayor’s BQX plan is the price. The QPTC feels that the $2.5 billion price tag for the BQX could be better spent on other, cheaper, transportation options.

“The $2.5 billion, 12 mile per hour streetcar recently proposed by the mayor is a major concern for commuters who drive,” said QPTC President Philip McManus. “This streetcar idea reminds us of the proposed Select Bus Service for Woodhaven Boulevard. Combined, both plans stand to cost the public almost $3 billion, yet may leave our roads in worse condition than they are now.”

The QPTC would rather see time and resources put into projects like QueensRail, which involves utilizing the existing right of way of the former Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, as opposed to spending more money building brand new infrastructure.

“We believe it might be more appropriate to experiment with an inexpensive — compared to the $2.5 billion streetcar — bus along the proposed route before building fixed rail tracks into the pavement,” Falik said. “Based on the available information, we believe that $2.5 billion could be better spent on the QueensRail implementation, which would only cost between $500 and 700 million, and investigating the Triboro RX connecting Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx via existing, inactive rail tracks and the NY Connecting Railroad.”

Allan Rosen, QPTC member and former director of bus planning for MTA New York City Transit, offered some other options to help improve transportation across Queens.

Rosen believes “we need a state law requiring cars to give the right of way to buses leaving a bus stop, which would save more time than Select Bus Service since it would apply to all routes.”

He pitched rebuilding railway or busway transportation on existing rights of way, such as the QueensRail site, that will not negatively affect the area’s already clogged roads.

For more information about QPTC, visit their website.