Transit projects favored by Katz require big bucks to fund

By Larry Penner

When it comes to public transportation, “Katz delivers ‘State of Borough’ address” (TimesLedger/Feb. 3) made for some great sound bites but provided little substance.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz failed to provide any specific information on how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and city Department of Transportation will come up with funding to implement any of the following transportation projects advocated by many other Queens elected officials, constituents and transit advocates.

The list includes but is not limited to the following projects or proposals. Just where does Katz stand on these ideas? All 14 members of the Queens Council delegation are supporting the Commuter Rail Fare Equalization Proposal.

This would allow city residents to pay the same $2.75 fare on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro North Rail Road as riding the NYC Transit Subway and provide a free transfer to the NYC subway.

How will New York City provide the MTA with $200 million to cover the cost? Another $200 million is needed to provide 1/2 fare Metro Cards for several hundred thousand poor residents earning less than $26,000 per year.

The LaGuardia Airport Train to the Plane base line budget of $450 million will require up to an additional $550 million in the years to come. The final cost may be closer to $1 billion.

Some Queens residents will be looking for $100 million toward the $400 million Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service. These dollars may be necessary if NYCDOT is unable to secure $100 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding.

Others will continue to lobby for $100 million to construct light rail between Jamaica and Long Island City on the old Lower Montauk LIRR branch; restoration of LIRR service on the old Rockaway LIRR branch at $1 billion; Triboro X Subway Express (new subway line connecting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn for $2 billion); Main Street Flushing Intermodal Bus Terminal $100 million; reopening the Woodhaven Boulevard, Atlantic Branch LIRR Station $40 million; and the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Street Car Connector at a cost of $2.5 billion.

This would connect various neighborhoods along the waterfront from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to Astoria, Queens.

Many neighborhoods are looking for the introduction of either Select Bus Service (SBS); Bus Rapid Transit (BRT); limited stop bus to Subway or Express Bus Service to Manhattan. There is still the need to bring many of the 78 Queens subway and 21 LIRR stations back up to a state of good repair. Don’t forget the need for additional subway and LIRR stations to become fully compliant with the Americans for Disability Act by construction of elevators.

Where does Katz think the MTA will find the cash for all these projects? The Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration and state may be possible funding sources for some of these projects. Clearly the city will have to contribute some significant funding if many of these projects will ever see the light of day.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office)

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