Coalition supports LaGuardia Airtrain

Coalition supports LaGuardia Airtrain
Photo by Jeff Yapalater

A Better Way to LGA represents community members, economic development groups, transportation advocates, unionized labor, civic stakeholders, and local business leaders who believe it is essential for New York’s future to have a fast and reliable transit alternative for LaGuardia Airport travelers and workers.

More than a dozen organizations joined together to announce the launch of A Better Way to LGA, a new coalition in support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport (AirTrain LGA). The coalition is comprised of community members, economic development groups, transportation advocates, unionized labor, civic stakeholders, and local business leaders, and is co-chaired by the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Association for a Better New York, and the New York Building Congress.

A long list of businesses are supportive of the new airtrain having seen the success of the JFK Airport train. Being that LaGuardia Airport is currently undergoing an $8-billion renovation during which the airport will be completely rebuilt voices are being heard advancing the cause of one at LaGuardia. “Queens businesses are forced to pay a hidden Grand Central Parkway tax due to constant traffic on the roads around LaGuardia, delaying deliveries and hurting workers. And it’s only getting worse each year,” said Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “The AirTrain will take millions of cars off the road and reduce traffic on our local streets, making it easier for Queens residents to get around, small businesses to make deliveries, and employees and customers to get to work or shop locally. It’s a proven model that has done wonders for JFK, and we simply can’t wait any longer to move forward on this project.”

The Port Authority submitted a series of analyses to the FAA, which will oversee the AirTrain’s environmental review. A Better Way to LGA believes that AirTrain LGA is a critical component of the overall redevelopment efforts taking place at LaGuardia. The next step is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the AirTrain. A Better Way to LGA calls on the EIS process to be completed by Q4 of 2019.

LaGuardia is the only major East Coast airport without a direct rail connection, and this has negative repercussions for surrounding neighborhoods and the City writ large. Traffic from the Grand Central Parkway and adjacent roads has inundated the entire community and crippled its ability to get around.

AirTrain LGA will connect with public transportation at Willets Point, relieving congestion at LaGuardia. Willets Point Station will be modernized, made accessible to people with disabilities, and designed for travelers with luggage, providing a seamless transition to AirTrain LGA Passengers traveling from Manhattan would reach Willets Point in 16 minutes on the Long Island Railroad, with direct, non-stop service from Penn Station (as well as Grand Central Station pending the completion of the East Side Access project). From Willets Point, it’s just six minutes to the airport. Alternatively, passengers can take the 7 Line Subway and transfer at Willets Point.

“The proposed AirTrain LGA would make the dream of a 30-minute ride from Midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia a reality,” said Angela Pinsky, Executive Director of the Association for a Better New York.

Now that legislation has passed by the New York State Legislature and been signed into law by Governor Cuomo,

Specifically, A Better Way to LGA calls on the EIS, in addition to evaluating impacts like noise and traffic mitigation, to include robust engagement with relevant community stakeholders, and evaluate the following areas: