BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A prototype for the Brooklyn/Queens Connector (BQX)—a streetcar system that would run along a 14-mile route from Astoria to Sunset Park—was unveiled on Monday morning, bringing the project one step closer to its 2024 goal.
The unveiling took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which would be one of the BQX’s stops along the Brooklyn/Queens waterfront.
“Today, we’re providing New Yorkers with their first real taste of what the BQX would look and feel like, and calling on the city to bring light-rail service to areas long underserved by reliable mass transit,” said Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. “It’s clear now is the moment to move forward with this transformative project to connect hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including over 40,000 public-housing residents, to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation along the route. Today we can start to imagine what’s possible, and now it’s time for the city to make this a reality.”
Attendees at the event—including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, members of the NYCHA Resident Association, labor leaders and transit advocates—called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to make the BQX a top priority during his second term.
“The Astoria Houses have long felt forgotten by the city when it comes to transportation and, only recently, thanks to new ferry service, is this beginning to change,” said Claudia Coger, resident association president of Astoria Houses. “But our residents need more reliable options. This is an issue of economic justice and it is why we have been so adamant about the need for the BQX. Mayor de Blasio should move this project forward now to provide relief to the thousands of working families in the Astoria Houses and the many more along this increasingly important corridor.”
The prototype consists of an 8.7-foot-wide, 46-foot-long streetcar that comprises two carts, including a driver cab. The prototype presented a live visual of the advantages of the project, such as having higher-capacity cars, street-level boarding for those with mobility challenges and open gangways.
Katz said there should be assurances that the western Queens neighborhoods of Astoria and Long Island City—through which the BQX would travel—will benefit by its presence.
“While this project has great potential to link communities and offer alternative transportation options to underserved families in Queens, we must make sure the benefits are realized for those bearing the burden of the development,” Katz said. “This would include selecting a route that would be optimal for the Astoria, Ravenswood and Queensbridge houses as well as extending the route to LaGuardia Airport.”
The BQX is currently undergoing a feasibility study to examine the routes and financing models.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.