Wednesday’s Headlines: Take the Train to the Plane Edition

Here's the AirTrain at JFK. Photo: Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons
Here's the AirTrain at JFK. Photo: Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

Let’s face it, you’ve always wanted to check out the LaGuardia Marriott — well, tonight you have the perfect excuse: The FAA is holding the first of two public meetings to discuss Gov. Cuomo’s AirTrain plan for the newly renovated airport that Joe Biden once shamed. Many observers think Cuomo’s chosen route — from the terminal to Willets Point, where passengers can connect to subway or the LIRR — is bizarre.

So head to the airport hotel at 6:30 tonight (or tomorrow night) to find out more.

But before that, enjoy our news digest:

  • Kudos to the NYPD’s Transportation bureau for cracking down on drivers in Park Slope. Relatively new leader, Inspector Dennis Fulton, is saying all the right things (so did Friend of Streetsblog Doug Gordon, who is quoted here). (WABC-7)
  • Tracy Morgan’s $2 million car was hit by another driver within a half-hour of him getting it. The Daily News played it with an “aw, shucks” tone, but didn’t pay much attention to the apparently distracted driver who tried to cut across several lanes of traffic to make a turn. Meanwhile, the Post got the exclusive interview with the driver. Like most witnesses, she blamed everyone but herself. (The Post also had video of Morgan’s reaction to being hit.)
  • The latest reason why NYC Transit President Andy Byford should quit? Gov. Cuomo just said he’ll cut the next capital plan by 10 percent. So long to lots of much-needed repairs! (NYDN, NY Post)
  • Like Streetsblog, other outlets covered the bust of eight people for using fake placards. (NY Post, WSJ, amNY)
  • Not many outlets covered the back-patting in Times Square yesterday, but Vin Barone at amNY did offer a wistful look at how much better the Crossroads of the World became after pedestrianization.
  • Can we get these kinds of subway public service posters all year long, not just during Pride Week? (amNY)
  • A student journalist with the NYT Institute took a deep dive into the uptick in killings of cyclists this year. And Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams shared his approval of the story.
  • And finaly, here’s a reminder: prosperous neighborhoods with pro-safety elected officials get much better bike infrastructure than poorer communities. Tuesday’s example? Fourth Avenue in Park Slope. (Brad Lander via Twitter)
  • Joe R.

    We made a mistake not making the AirTrain to JFK a one-seat ride to Manhattan. Why are we planning to repeat that same mistake here? If we build an AirTrain to LGA at all, it should be a one seat ride, although I personally think putting any money into air travel at this point is a waste, given that it must be sharply curtailed very soon if we’re to have any hope of checking climate change.

  • Flakker

    You’re thinking way too grand. Every new transit project proposed or enacted in the last 15 years in the region is more of this dead-ending garbage, save Gateway, (itself a successor to a dead-ending garbage plan killed for the wrong reason) the subway extensions, and the New Haven line stations in the Bronx. The WTC, PATH to EWR, ESA/PSA, the demands for a rebuilt PABT/7 train extension to Secaucus… by the standards of today, JFK Airtrain, as overpriced and underwhelming as it is, is actually a visionary project in that it could theoretically be integrated into a transit network that would save a significant number of people time and distance for the cost of building and operating it.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Cuomo spokesman Patrick Muncie said $32 billion, not $30 billion, has been allocated to the next capital budget. That number was reached by adding up $15 billion in funding from congestion pricing, $5 billion from a new internet sales tax, $5 billion from a new real estate transfer tax and an anticipated $7 billion from the federal government.”

    And the Capital Plan after 2024? What money would be available for that, after everything but the federal money is bonded against?

    And how much money was in that 2015 to 2019 capital plan after all? An actual $33.2 million?

    Silence is consent. Don’t bury the lede.

    The other issue is, how much of the $32 billion would be going to the construction pension funds — over and above the retirement benefits being earned by current construction workers right now? And would that amount be going up or down?

  • Sassojr

    It’s as if the Bronx doesn’t exist except when it’s residents fight bike lanes (I guess we don’t have enough hipsters on fixies yet):

    https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/06/01/bronx-bus-redesign/

    A very underwhelming draft was released (link to full draft on that site). There were slight adjustments. Definitely NOT a redesign.

  • Andrew

    I agree that it’s not a full-blown redesign, which implies starting from scratch and drawing a new bus network based on current or projected travel patterns.

    The challenge is that people who are hurt by a change, or believe that they might be hurt by a shake, are quick to complain, while people who stand to benefit don’t speak up (many of them aren’t even aware that they benefit until the change is implemented and they get around to trying it for a while). Full-blown redesigns inevitably result in loud opposition, even redesigns that are clearly beneficial. (See, for instance, Vittorio Bugatti’s comment to the piece you linked, to the few elements of the plan that can truly be described as redesign.)

    So any agency looking to avoid controversy is going to avoid full-blown redesigns. It’s quite unfortunate.

  • kevd

    making it “one-seat” to manhattan still makes it 2 seats for most riders.
    as long as it has connections to enough lines, that is useful as “one-seat” to manhattan. But they didn’t do either (the funding actually prohibited anything more, if I’m not mistaken)

  • bolwerk

    There’s absolutely no reason to build LGA AirTrain unless you don’t want to the MTA to do the job. Which seems to be the intent.

    A subway extension to LGA would be the sane way to do it from an urban planning perspective, and it could include some intermediate stations in a relatively dense quasi-transit desert.

    Where they screwed up with Airtrain JFK was in making it terminate at such periphery stations. The spur to Jamaica makes sense, but otherwise, again, it would have been better served by a subway station directly to the airport (although it would still require many users to switch to the people mover).

  • Larry Littlefield

    I mean think about it, anyone commenting here are in the top 5 percent of people who care about the transit system.

    And yet I get the feeling that even among this select population, only 5 percent care about the transit system in 2025, or 2030.

    Or at least are so resigned to doom that they can’t get worked up about it. Same attitude 5, 10, 20 years ago is how we ended up where we are.

    And not just with regard to the transit system.

  • mfs

    The key to better bike infrastructure isn’t whether neighborhoods are prosperous or not. The key in your sentence is “pro-safety elected officials”. See Queens Boulevard (Danny Dromm), 1st/2nd aves (Melissa Mark-Viverito), Grand Street (Antonio Reynoso). Also the 4th Ave project covers Sunset Park (Carlos Menchaca). What’s the common thread? pro-safety elected officials endorsed by StreetsPAC

  • kevd

    Oops. wrong respondee…..

  • cjstephens

    Perhaps I’m mis-remembering, but I think the only reason the subway didn’t get linked to LGA was the fear of doing battle with some homeowners in Astoria. Given how inflated the LGA AirTrain budget has become, wouldn’t it just be cheaper at this point to buy out all those homeowners at double the market rates and be done with it?

  • Joe R.

    If I recall, it wasn’t even a case of eminent domain where houses would need to be razed. The complaints were about the AirTrain passing overhead, being a source of noise and visual pollution. However, I agree with your solution. Offer every homeowner along the route compensation enough so they can sell their house at depreciated rates if the train causes property values to drop and buy something comparable elsewhere. Those who choose to stay will get a nice windfall. It’s probably a lot cheaper overall to do this than to go ahead with the current plan.

  • bolwerk

    Is there a documented case of a passenger rail service reducing property values? Absolutely zero of the “quality of life” complaints even make sense. Even noise is mostly a historical problem, and the real noise problem with modern rail implementations is that they can be so quiet that people get killed for not hearing them coming.

    It probably wouldn’t have happened anyway, but the immediate concerns with the subway extension to LaGuardia in the 1990s wasn’t property values. It was probably NIMBY racism.

  • Joe R.

    You’re right but a lot of these people live in the past. They think everything is the same as when they bought their house in 1960, including noisy trains running on ugly steel structures.

    And yes, the whole racism thing has been a factor in the past causing people to oppose new subway lines.

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