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A transit solution to LaGuardia Airport

The MTA should be commended for upgrading the service on the Q70 bus to LaGuardia from two transit hubs in Queens as passengers and residents struggle during the $8 billion renovation of the airport.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, apparently stung by Vice President Joe Biden’s assessment of LGA as a “Third World” airport, moved swiftly to introduce a bold plan to propel LaGuardia into the 21st century.

After construction began on the long-awaited project in June, travelers in taxis and cars soon found themselves marooned in gridlock, while East Elmhurst residents complained about their streets becoming unofficial LGA parking lots.

Enter the MTA, which unveiled a new LaGuardia Link, giving the popular Q70 bus line faster service and making public transit a more appealing alternative to sitting in the airport’s infamous traffic jams.

The bus service, which runs from the No. 7 line and LIRR station in Woodside and the 74th Street/Broadway subway station in Jackson Heights, carries more than 4,000 tourists and airport employees a day. The bus line, introduced in September 2013, drew raves almost immediately from riders whose commutes to the airport became dramatically shorter.

Queens had long flirted with the idea of a one-seat ride from LaGuardia to Manhattan, but the modest Q70 bus made the 35-minute ride (under ideal circumstances) a reality with little fanfare.

Now under the new Q70 plan, specially marked LaGuardia Link buses that require riders to pay fares before boarding will speed up service, the MTA said. The buses run 24 hours a day.

Although the Port Authority and LaGuardia Gateway Partners have taken aggressive steps to unwind the traffic snarl around LaGuardia, hopes are high that the Q70 will lure more people onto public transit.

Global Gateway Alliance and Riders Alliance, transit advocacy groups, want the MTA to make the Q70 free to boost ridership and relieve the traffic nightmare.

But the MTA contends free fares would not be financially feasible because the agency would have to provide more service as ridership surged

The much heralded—and needed—LaGuardia resurrection project is not supposed to be completed until 2021, which means a lot of headaches for airport visitors and Queens residents who use the Grand Central and other nearby approaches.

We urge the MTA not to dismiss free fares out of hand and to take a serious look at the transit proposal that would siphon traffic off the roads. A 21st century airport deserves a 21st century solution to the borough’s epic traffic problems.

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