By State Sen. Andrew Gounardes
There isn’t much that can stop a New Yorker from getting where they need to be. But ask someone to go to Queens from Bay Ridge on any given day and you may test that theory.
For millions of Brooklyn and Queens residents, the two most populous boroughs, there is no decent transit option connecting them. Whether it’s having to take multiple trains through Manhattan, or living in transit deserts in the outer boroughs, millions of riders have to rely on trains that take them up and down and across and then to their destinations, often making what would be just a one-borough trip become a two-borough, or even three-borough trek.
Trying to get from Borough Park to Kensington? They’re next door to each other, but the best bet is walking or bicycling — each of which can be either expensive, difficult in inclement weather, when transporting heavy goods, and more. The same is true of a New Yorker seeking to travel from Bay Ridge to Ridgewood: it can begin to feel like an Odyssean journey. The Manhattan-centric transit system no longer reflects the reality of our city.
For decades, Manhattan has been the center of our city’s transit network; the main artery pumping millions and millions of riders along our subway’s brightly colored lines across the geographical body we share. But Manhattan is no longer the center of New Yorkers’ lives — and we should no longer be forced into Manhattan for our commutes.
The MTA held its first question and answer session open to the public on the Interborough Express. The Express has the potential to connect up to 17 subway lines across Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, and is projected to only take 40 minutes to ride from its northern entrance in Woodside, Queens to its southern terminus in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. This would be a game changer.
To make the Interborough Express a reality, the MTA is currently considering a few options: rapid transit buses, a light rail system, or an expansion of the current subway system to include these new Brooklyn-Queens stops. Each option has its own advantages: utilizing buses would likely mean this project is ready for New Yorkers to use faster, and at a lower cost to the MTA, whereas choosing a light rail or subway expansion option has the potential to operate at higher speeds and a higher capacity.
Regardless of the choice the MTA makes regarding the Interborough Express’s infrastructure, the MTA must seamlessly connect to the existing networks of subways and buses. Southern Brooklynites should no longer have to zig-zag across their communities just to get to transit. Crucially, fares on the Interborough Express must be integrated into the pre-existing system. That means fares should cost no more than $2.75 and transferring between the new line and any other subway or bus should come at no additional cost. And of course, rides on the Express must also be eligible for low-fare programs.
From commuting to cultural spaces to commuting to workplaces, all New Yorkers deserve to have access to all that this great city has to offer without spending as much time on transit as it would take to get to Philadelphia. The Triborough Express has the potential to be a game changer for southern Brooklyn, and I am eager to continue working with our community and the MTA to get it done.