Swarms of people gathered at the Brooklyn Navy Yard this morning for the reveal of a new prototype of the Brooklyn Queens Connector light rail.
The plan is for the train to travel a 14-mile corridor between Sunset Park and Astoria.
With community groups, students, transportation advocates and members of the tech sector amassed behind her holding signs, Ya-Ting Liu, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, called for support for what she described as a “transformative public transit project for New York City.”
Some critics of the BQX claim other transportation issues are more pressing and the light rail benefits the developers backing it more than residents. On the plus side, the emissions-free streetcar could potentially knit together “transit deserts” and cut commute times in half on some parts of the route, according to a city report.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz spoke briefly in favor of the proposal.
The prototype, which looks like a sleeker version of a traditional subway car, features red padded seats, curb level boarding, an accordion-like joint in the middle — similar to the proposed new subway cars the MTA announced in 2016 — and open gangways that provide more flexible mobility.
Mayor de Blasio was at the Brooklyn Navy Yard last week, where he announced that 10,000 new jobs will be there in the next few years. In her remarks, Liu mentioned the importance of the BQX to getting those jobs and jokingly referred to how difficult it was for the audience to get the venue this morning.
The announcement of the prototype came as something of a surprise, since just four days ago The New York Post ran a story in which unnamed sources said the light rail is doomed to fail because of de Blasio’s strained relationship with Governor Cuomo. Because “slivers of state-controlled land are in the way,” an anonymous source told the Post, the Governor could say no to the entire project.
But Liu, when asked about the articles, had a different opinion.
“At the end of the day, one of the strengths of this proposal is that it will be 100-percent city run,” she said. “There is no eminent domain tied to this project, there are no rezonings. This makes this project both viable and very doable.”
[Photos by Craig Hubert]
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