Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights in 40 minutes or less? More subway connections to Manhattan? Yes, please.
Those are just some of the benefits of Gov. Kathy Hochul's Interborough Express Line, a major transit expansion that would connect up to 17 subway lines, serve nearly 1 million commuters daily and generate significant economic growth.
The Democrat said Wednesday as part of her wide-ranging State of the State address that she had directed the MTA to begin an environmental review process for what she described as a "transformative" new line now decades in the making.
Hochul has also asked the agency to identify the best commuter option -- heavy or light rail or rapid bus transit -- to ferry New Yorkers along a 14-mile existing freight right-of-way from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to Jackson Heights, Queens.
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Stops along the way would include Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Elmhurst.
According to the state, the line would serve a corridor currently home to 900,000 residents and 260,000 jobs, with expected growth of at least 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs in the next 25 years. Both Brooklyn and Queens rely heavily on public transportation, data shows, with 57% and 36% of households in Brooklyn and Queens, respectively, not owning cars.
Public transit between Brooklyn and Queens has long been a slow, tedious process, with existing subway lines oriented toward Manhattan and the G subway line the only one that transports riders directly between the two boroughs. The Interborough Express would supplement Manhattan transit, too, with fast new reliable connections, according to Hochul. She says the corridor would connect up to 17 subway lines, in addition to the Long Island Rail Road, expanding access to jobs for the 85,000 or so daily commuters from those areas who work in Manhattan.
Nearly 130,000 residents who make daily trips within or across Brooklyn and Queens, who now rely on buses that get caught on traffic or that one cross-borough subway line, to reach their destinations would reap extreme benefits, too.
Hochul included six key core project benefits in her State of the State, including:
- Faster commutes: A new service would provide end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, providing significant time savings for trips between Brooklyn and Queens compared with existing transit options
- Better service: The Interborough Express could attract some 74,000 to 88,000 weekday riders, attracting more than 2 million new annual trips to public transit
- Greater job access: The planned line would connect residents and workers to the LIRR and up to 17 subway lines, significantly expanding access to jobs and services across the metro area
- Greater equity: The line would provide new service where 71% of residents are people of color and 33% are below 1.5 times the federal poverty line
- Economic development: In addition to creating new jobs, the new line will connect large centers of retail in Queens and Brooklyn, including the Jackson Heights and Middle Village shopping hubs, supporting small businesses and providing a foundation for more economic development
- Accelerated project completion: Because the Interborough Express will be built on an existing freight right-of-way, the project can be completed much faster than if it were starting from scratch, while still preserving the rail corridor for freight use
It's not clear how long the MTA review process would take to complete, much less the entire project. But Hochul says the initial investment is a critical component of the state's path forward.
"It's time to invest in the bold, cutting-edge infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers," she said in a statement. "New Yorkers deserve reliable public transit that connects them from work to home and everywhere in between. The Interborough Express would be a transformational addition to Brooklyn and Queens, cutting down on travel time and helping neighborhoods and communities become cleaner, greener and more equitable."