Op-Ed: LaGuardia AirTrain derailed

Courtesy of Port Authority

The Port Authority of NY/NJ has completed its study on public transit to the new LaGuardia Airport. It has declined to endorse any sort of rail, ferry, or subway service to the airport, instead opting to support a shuttle bus from the end of the N/W line at the Astoria–Ditmars Boulevard station and a revamping of the Q70 service from Jackson Heights, including creating a bus only lane on the northbound BQE.

We do understand that cost of the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain was the determining factor in the Port Authority’s decision, so in these difficult times it is understandable that the cheapest alternative is very attractive. While we do not oppose the decision at this time to provide surface bus service only, we urge that as economic conditions change, we readdress the use of a light rail service. For this is the most effective way to get vehicles off the road, and lead to a cleaner environment.

We want to emphasize that, from a regional logistic standpoint, am AirTrain from Jamaica makes the most sense.

OANA was invited to a presentation of their decision on March 10, where we reiterated our support of an AirTrain linking with the JFK AirTrain at Jamaica.

Click here for a full rundown of our position.

Major points are the regional coverage that the Jamaica link would provide, including Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island with the largest number of subway and LIRR intersections. We also feel that use of the N line and shuttle will be limited, as stations such as 59th Street have many stairs, making carrying luggage difficult. Also, it does not interchange with Penn or Grand Central stations. And we question whether the creation of a bus-only lane on the crowded BQE will cause more problems than it solves.

Additionally, we feel that the creation of a ferry stop at the Marine Air terminal would be an obvious, cost-effective choice to implement as complementary to other options.

While many in Queens oppose the AirTrain, as they want to avoid the inconvenience of construction — and some do not see a large local benefit (We do not disagree) — we must remember this is a regional system. If we want people off the roads, we must provide them with viable alternatives.

And remember, our airports are Queens’ largest economic drivers and should be complimented with the best in state of the art infrastructure.

Richard Khuzami is president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association.