If they build it, they will hop on board.
That was the message as the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) received strong support from voters that participated in a telephone survey by Global Strategy Group, an American public relations firm.
According to the poll — which surveyed 701 people between July 6 and July 11 — a vast majority are on board with the construction of the proposed $2.5 billion streetcar whose route would stretch along the waterfront for 16 miles between Sunset Park and Astoria, Queens.
Despite some opposition and hesitation displayed by community members in Brooklyn during board meetings and workshops, the survey indicates that out of seven districts polled, including City Council Districts 22, 26, 33, 34, 35, 38 and 39, all but one has an approval rating over 70 percent. In District 26, the plan received 63 percent support. Overall, only 16 percent of those surveyed oppose the plan.
“These findings echo what we’re hearing loud and clear in communities throughout the corridor—that New York’s 100-year-old Manhattan-centric transit system doesn’t meet their needs and that there must be a better way to get around,” said Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of the Friends of the BQX. “Brooklyn and Queens residents want greater access to good-paying jobs and more reliable public transit for underserved communities, and overwhelmingly believe the BQX is a much-needed solution.”
Those that support the plan often cited a dire need for a mass transit alternative. According to plans, the BQX would serve an estimated 50,000 riders per day. Other benefits mentioned by those surveyed included accessibility to jobs and for those with mobility problems, as well as benefits for the environment and convenience to public housing.
“The strong response to the argument that the BQX is needed to address a shortfall in transit options suggests voters in the corridor clearly understand the value of a new transit line in these rapidly growing waterfront communities,” added Jeffrey Plaut of Global Strategy Group.
However, not everyone is keen on the ambitious plan. During a meeting this past spring in Sunset Park where the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented the proposal, many were left unimpressed. “If EDC wants to display a capacity to do this in the best possible way for this community, focus on the issues you’ve got right now,” said Community Board 7 Chair Daniel Murphy. “We’ve got a backlog. How much of your limited energy is going into this project instead of others?”
During one of the BQX’s visioning sessions hosted by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and EDC this past summer at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, some attendees were skeptical.
“There’s been a long need for transportation between these communities in Brooklyn and Queens, and communities have been asking for transportation actions for decades,” said attendee Ana Orozco. “I think that it’s interesting now there are luxury development along these routes, now is when we’re talking about this as a viable option.”