Some transit advocates urging NY Gov. Hochul to pump the brakes on LGA ‘Wrong Way’ AirTrain

Sep 9, 2021

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New York City transit activists are working overtime to convince newly installed Gov. Kathy Hochul to derail the controversial LaGuardia Airport (LGA) AirTrain project.

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The $2.1 billion train, which was championed by Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo, would connect the airport to the Long Island Rail Road and the 7 subway line via the Mets-Willets Point subway station, which is near Citi Field and the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is played. It would then run along the north side of the Grand Central Parkway from Willets Point to two stations at LaGuardia.The AirTrain would offer city residents an affordable option to get to and from LaGuardia, in what officials say would be a 30-minute trip.

Related: LGA AirTrain clears final big hurdle

Anyone who’s ever flown in and out of LGA knows reliable rail service would greatly improve access to the airport. So why do some people want the project shut down?

Critics feel the planned route makes absolutely no sense and that the train is a bloated waste of tax dollars. The way it’s currently laid out, Manhattan-bound riders would first have to travel east, away from the island, before they connect to the subway and head back west. Hence, the “wrong way” nickname.

Related: Which NYC-area airport should I fly into?

The FAA gave preliminary approval to the project back in July, but the resignation of Andrew Cuomo gave opponents another opportunity to attack the project, with some even calling it a vanity project of the once-powerful former governor.

Back in the spring, documents revealed that officials believe a car ride to the airport would actually be faster than the AirTrain.

Travel times between LaGuardia and Manhattan via the proposed AirTrain and LIRR. (Image courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)

One of the loudest opponents of the plan is Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At a town hall meeting back in April, she said the AirTrain “is billions and billions and billions of dollars on an infrastructure project that doesn’t make logistical sense.”

Hochul has not taken a public position on the LaGuardia monorail project. “Governor Hochul is committed to a world-class airport and transportation network, and she is working with the Port Authority, community members, elected officials, and advocates to ensure transparency and robust engagement,” Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays told the New York Post.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wholeheartedly supports the rail plan and says the criticism is short-sighted. The agency says the AirTrain will give passengers a mass-transit link to LaGuardia and would remove countless cars from New York City’s congested roads, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

TPG has covered the project in detail in the past; you can read much more about it here.

Featured image courtesy of A Better Way to LGA.

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