PHOTO: Mayor de Blasio this week provided more information on the BQX, a new streetcar service he unveiled in his State of the City Address earlier this month. Photo Courtesy of Mayor’s Office
By Michael V. Cusenza
Mayor Bill de Blasio this week touted support of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar service he unveiled during the State of the City Address earlier this month.
De Blasio on Tuesday highlighted BQX endorsements from borough elected officials, transit advocates, and business owners. The new transit line – the first city streetcar in more than 50 years – would stretch 16 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, linking together neighborhoods “long underserved” by public transit with some of the fastest-growing job hubs, he said.
“The proposed streetcar connecting the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront neighborhoods is intriguing,” said City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “A dedicated public transit line that connects communities faster and more directly than the current transit options could benefit our residents and small businesses. I look forward to hearing more details and working with the proposal’s stakeholders to ensure that current residents and the community have input in any future plan.”
When fully built-out, BQX could serve almost 50,000 passengers per day, running through Astoria, Ravenswood, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Navy Yard, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Gowanus and Sunset Park – making it one of the biggest urban streetcar systems in the nation, according to the administration.
“The more mass transit we have, the better off we are as a city that is growing. This is a brilliant plan that brings a permanent, reliable transportation option to neighborhoods desperate for it,” said Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor and chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Not everybody rides bikes.”
Though the BQX has already garnered wide-ranging support, not everyone likes the idea.
“The $2.5 billion, 12 mile per hour streetcar recently proposed by the mayor is a major concern for commuters who drive,” said Philip McManus, president of the Queens Public Transit Committee. “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 has been advocating for 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 to build new infrastructure from scratch.”