2016-02-24 / Features

De Blasio Details Brooklyn- Queens Connector Plans

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined tenants of NYCHA’s Red Hook Houses, transit leaders, elected officials and civic groups to detail a new streetcar service: the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX). The new transit line – the first New York City streetcar in more than 50 years – would stretch 16 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, linking together neighborhoods long underserved by public transit with some of the fastest-growing job hubs.

When fully built-out, it could serve almost 50,000 passengers per day, making it one of the biggest urban streetcar systems in the nation.

“People in neighborhoods like Red Hook haven’t had the quality transit they need and deserve. This new service means opportunity for those families, and it’s also going to strengthen communities up and down the waterfront. Anyone can see the enormous growth happening here – it’s time we brought new transit to these neighborhoods for all those people and jobs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This corridor is where the present and the future of our city are happening. It’s where jobs and housing are growing, and where innovators and businesses are moving every day. The BQX will tie all these incredible success stories together, and open up even more opportunity for our people,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

“To build a dynamic, resilient, five-borough economy, the de Blasio administration is making catalytic investments that will grow quality jobs in neighborhoods like Sunset Park and Long Island City,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres- Springer. “With the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, we’ll help more New Yorkers access those jobs, spark more than $25 billion dollars in economic impact over the next three decades, and ensure we are both planning for, as well as investing in our city’s future.”

“The BQX will provide the modern, efficient, state-of-the-art transit link that the growing Brooklyn and Queens waterfront, which is underserved by the current subway system, urgently needs,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “The BQX will provide a cost-effective transportation option for neighborhoods all along the East River that will also spur economic development and more vibrant communities for all New Yorkers.”

The Brooklyn-Queens waterfront is one of the fastest-growing parts of the city, with more than 405,000 residents and 296,000 workers. But transit capacity hasn’t kept pace with population and employment growth. The BQX would link together long-isolated neighborhoods and bring 21st-century public transit to meet the needs of a growing city. Following extensive community outreach and planning, the Administration foresees breaking ground on the project in 2019-2020.

The Route:

The BQX would run along a 16-mile corridor through Astoria, Ravenswood, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Navy Yard, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Gowanus and Sunset Park.

The BQX will link to 13 NYCHA developments with more than 40,000 tenants – roughly 10 percent of the city’s public housing residents.

The route ties together several “innovation clusters” in which the city has made significant economic development investments, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island via a ferry connection.

The Administration will begin engaging communities along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront this year to develop the new service’s exact route, operations and a phasing plan for implementation.

Time Savings for Riders:

With a majority of the streetcar service operating in a reserved right of way, the average rider on the BQX will save 15-20 minutes each way compared to their current transit options.

Ridership and Fares:

The BQX will be one of the largest urban streetcar systems in the United States – with an expected weekday use rate of almost 50,000 travelers when fully constructed.

The fare on the Brooklyn-Queens Connector will be the same as a single-ride Metrocard.

Finances:

The preliminary estimate for the purchase and installation of the system is approximately $2.5 billion. The city will raise capital through the creation of a non-profit with the authority to issue tax-exempt bonds. The city is expected to pay off this debt by capturing a percentage of the increase in values of existing and new development along the corridor.

When built out, fares from riders are expected to cover approximately two-thirds of yearly operating costs. The city will consider additional revenue streams such as advertising, to offset remaining costs.

Economic Impact:

Construction of the streetcar and new development along the corridor are projected to create 28,000 temporary jobs by 2045.

The BQX will generate over $25 billion in economic impact to New York City over the next 30 years.

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