Mayor Proposes A Streetcar Named BQX to Link Neighborhoods Along East River

Mayor Bill de Blasio has introduced an idea to link Brooklyn and Queens by streetcar, a mode of transporation not seen in the city in decades. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

From Astoria to Sunset Park and neigborhoods in between, there may be a new way to ride.

Mayor Bill de Blasio calls it the BQX streetcar, a proposed 16-mile above-ground line that would link several booming neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens along the East River.

"We are building the future of technology and infrastructure right here in Brooklyn and Queens, and I just think it's incredible," said Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

Trolley lines were a big part of New York until the 1950s, when the last of the street cars disappeared. Proposals to revive them have fallen on deaf ears, until de Blasio decided to call for the BQX line, short for Brooklyn Queens Connector, in his State of the City speech Thursday. He said the $2.5 billion project would serve parts of the city where commuting by mass transit has never been easy.

"Travel between the boroughs grows at twice the rate of travel into and out of Manhattan, but we have a system that's really built to service trips in and out of Manhattan," said Tom Wright, president of the Regional Plan Association.

That's exactly what many residents who would be served by the new line say.

"Brooklyn from Astoria is a little bit difficult to get to sometimes," said one resident. "I think it'd make people go back and forth more. I think it'd be good for both areas."

"It would hopefully get more people taking public transportation, get them out of their cars," said another.

The city projects that initially, the BQX Connector will serve fewer than 25,000 riders every day while linking them to nearby bus lines, subway stations and ferry landings, and also so-called "innovation clusters" like the one at Industry City in Brooklyn." That's a fraction of the 6 million people packing the subway most weekdays.

De Blasio projects that stops along the new line would create hubs for the "jobs of the future," boosting ridership,

"You're opening up the Red Hook Houses. You're opening up the Navy Yard. I mean, you are opening up places in Brooklyn that have nothing in terms of transportation," Scissura said.

There are many potential obstacles, from funding to community approvals. The mayor wants construction to begin in 2019.

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