PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: NYC Mayor de Blasio to drop $2.5 billion on streetcar system

Feb. 5, 2016

The electric train would connect Astoria, Queens and Brooklyn

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a $2.5 billion plan this week to run an electric streetcar system along the city’s waterfront between Astoria, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, stretching some 16 miles over all.

The Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) will be the one of the largest urban streetcar systems in the U.S., the mayor's office said.

“This is about equity and innovation,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are mapping brand new transit that will knit neighborhoods together and open up real opportunities for our people.”

More than 40,000 residents in 13 public housing developments, equivalent to 10% of the city’s public housing population, live along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront with very limited access to public transportation. New residential and commercial developments taking place along the proposed BQX route are also seen as justification for building up transit options for the waterfront.

In a spot of felicity, in order to assuage run-of-the-mill political red tap, the city will not need the state’s permission to begin planning for the BQX. Nonetheless, the streetcar line’s planning alone is expected to last three years, with construction taking four more, putting the BQX’s targeted opening date sometime in 2023. Plenty of time, say the dubious, for Gov. Cuomo to intervene.