NY Governor pumps the brakes on LaGuardia’s $2.1B AirTrain

Oct 4, 2021

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Farewell, LGA AirTrain. We hardly knew ye.

The much-ballyhooed LaGuardia Airport AirTrain project, a $2.1 billion undertaking that was supposed to make getting to and from the NYC-area airport easier, has had its plug effectively pulled by New York Governor Kathy Hochul. The elevated-rail system was thought to be well on its way to nearing the start of construction after it gained FAA approval. The AirTrain was a key component of the years-long effort to overhaul LaGuardia (LGA) from a national punchline to a world-class airport.

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(AirTrain rendering courtesy of A Better Way to LGA)

But on Monday Hochul, who took over for Andrew Cuomo after he was forced to resign in August following sexual harassment allegations,  told the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to look at other options to connect the airport to mass transit options in Queens and reduce car traffic.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Governor Hochul commented on her decision. “I don’t feel obligated to accept what I have inherited,” she said, before adding, “There were alternatives on the table that even the FAA said that people were saying people were not looking at as close as they should.”

TPG has written before about how critics of the AirTrain say it’s a major waste of taxpayer dollars because of the questionable route passengers must take to get back to the city, hence why it was nicknamed the “wrong way” train. The planned route called for Manhattan-bound riders to leave LaGuardia and travel east, away from the island, before connecting to the subway at the Willets Point station in Queens, and then heading west to Manhattan.

Related: Which NYC Airport should I fly into?

Opponents, such as Queens congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have said it would be faster to take a cab or bus to Midtown than the AirTrain. Making matters worse, a study by the watchdog group Reinvent Albany claimed just 6,000 riders would use the AirTrain. If that turned out to be accurate, it would put the price tag on the AirTrain at roughly $350,000 per passenger.

“I remain committed to working expeditiously to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century and to create jobs,” Hochul said. “Not just at LaGuardia, but at all of our airports and transit hubs across New York.”

Related: Advocates campaign against LGA AirTrain

The Port Authority, which oversees the NYC-area airports, has continued to support the AirTrain project despite the growing criticism.

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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