Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector launched a brand new website yesterday, revealing not on
Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector launched a brand new website yesterday, revealing not only more images of how the streetcar could fit in with the various neighborhoods it would serve, but also the names of the developers, transportation experts and civic organizers involved in pushing the lightrail project forward. As listed on the site, members of the advocacy group include former MTA head and mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, big names hailing from the likes of Tishman Speyer, Steiner Studios and Two Trees Development, and a number of local groups, including the Fifth Avenue Committee, Industry City and DUMBO BID. According to DNA Info, over the next 16 months, the committee will attempt to get additional neighborhood groups and residents along the streetcar’s 16-mile route involved in the city’s public planning process, which in turn should drive more support and funding.
The estimated $2.5B streetcar idea has already received its fair share of criticism, notably from Streetsblog’s Ben Fried, who has said the whole plan doesn’t add up. He cites two major issues (among others): 1. The cars don’t connect to the subway (“[this is just] an expensive way to connect waterfront neighborhoods and destinations to each other”); and 2. It doesn’t serve the communities that are true public transit deserts, something he says contradicts the city’s plan to improve transportation infrastructure where it’s most needed. His suggestion has been to instead create a more robust Bus Rapid Transit system.
A “Fatal Flaw Analysis” released in February also added that the idea may require the construction of two new bridges, one over Newtown Creek and another over the Gowanus Canal. However, the costs of these upgrades are said to be included in the project’s estimated price tag. Other issues have included concerns that the system may favor “tourists and yuppies,” and that it runs entirely through flood zones.
Currently the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector are holding “visioning sessions” in the neighborhoods served by the line. DNA Info writes that the sessions will serve as forums for residents to ask questions about the project. Incidentally, at the first meeting held in Astoria this week, one resident asked whether a bus lane between Brooklyn and Queens would be a more economical alternative. “It is something that the Friends group did look at,” the group’s executive director Ya-Ting Liu was reported saying. “Based on our analysis, we felt that at the end of a day, the bus…won’t be able to compete with a streetcar in terms of ridership capacity and reliability.”
Friend’s estimates put ridership at 55,000 patrons a day. They also add they expect the service to be included within the MetroCard system, but nothing has been finalized with the MTA.
Liu told DNA Info that the idea may take some time to garner support, but added “we’re way past due time for the city to start taking charge of its own transportation destiny. It [the streetcar] can be a model for how the city can start really investing and building and expanding its transit network.”
Check out the full site here for more info.
[Via DNA Info]
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