Tucked into Governor Andrew Cuomo's new $4 billion blueprint to rebuild LaGuardia Airport are plans to create a rail link simliar to the automated railway that takes airline passengers to JFK, but not everyone is applauding. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
You can take the bus to LaGuardia Airport - the Q70 from Queens or the M60 from Manhattan. But it's been a long-held dream of advocates and city planners to have a speedier, more direct mass transit link: by rail.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined just that for the often-ridiculed airport.
"We want to connect LaGuardia with mass transportation, including ferry and rail service, so it wouldn't always be a car ride to the airport," Cuomo said.
His plan calls for a 1.5-mile-long line connecting the Willets Point Queens stop on the 7 train and the nearby LIRR station to the airport. The elevated tracks would run alongside the Grand Central Parkway, simliar to the Airtrain that links the Jamaica and Howard Beach subway stops to JFK.
However, there are several questions about the train link. First, the governor estimates that the new AirTrain will cost $450 million.
"We know from past history that these early estimates never turn out to be how much it actually costs," said Nicole Gelinas, senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute.
Then, there's the question of how many riders would use the new line. Fewer than 20,000 riders took the Q70 and M60 buses to LaGuardia in all of last year.
"There's a need and a use for this, but it may not be the wisest thing we can build right now with the money we have," Gelinas said.
Some riders say they would welcome the rail line.
"It's all about scheduling it right," said one rider. "I think it would be good for people that need to get maybe to the airport faster than the usual, like, they have somewhere to go."
Others question whether it's even needed.
"We got a bus. Why waste money on that?" said one rider.
Cuomo is counting on less community oppostiton than the last time a politican pushed for train service to LaGuardia. That was in the late 1990s under the Giuliani administration.
Indeed, the idea of a rail line to LaGuardia has been kicked around for decades.
"Now, we've got it on the agenda. Now, we've got an announcement. Now, we've got to figure out a way to really make them do what they said they're going to do," said Joseph Sitt, chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance.