What to Know
- Mayor de Blasio is hoping to revive a plan for the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or the BQX, streetcar
- But the cost estimate has ballooned to $2.73 billion, and it wouldn't be finished until 2029
- Supporters say it's a "visionary" proposal that would have a positive and dramatic impact; critics say the focus should be on the subways
Mayor de Blasio is hoping to revive a plan for a streetcar connecting Brooklyn and Queens, but critics are balking at the newly inflated cost estimate for the project.
The city is now estimating the cost for the Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar project, or BQX, would be $2.73 billion -- with $1 billion needed from the federal government. Opponents of the plan say the subways need that money far more.
"Every dime of federal money or city money that we can put into transportation should be going to Andy Byford's plan to fix the subways and buses," said Jon Orcutt of the Transit Center.
But for many who live in parts of Brooklyn or Queens where getting to the subway or their bus route isn't easy, particularly those in public housing, the streetcar, which would serve 26 stops from Gowanus to Astoria, would be a lifeline.
"It will access good-paying jobs springing up all along this corridor, to health care, parks, to restaurants, schools for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers," said Jessica Schumer of Friends of BQX.
Former MTA chairs Richard Ravitch, Tom Prendergast and Jay Walder and former MTA CEO Elliot Sander added in a written statement through Friends of BQX, "There are few, if any, projects that match the potential of the BQX to expand opportunity in an equitable way for a wide range of New Yorkers. And we know that light rail, with dedicated right of way and high ridership capacity, is by far the best mode of transit to accomplish that."
Another change to the plan: the city projects it won't be complete until 2029, which means it will be up to the next mayor to see the project through.
At this point, the project is just being considered. But if city leaders want to get this trolley off the tracks, they'll need to get residents on board.
"It would help to have a streetcar, but I think fix the subways first," George Davis of downtown Brooklyn.