The Brooklyn Queens Connector

As the NYC tech sector grows, it has been moving beyond Manhattan and into the outer boroughs. And the most popular destinations have been the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront neighborhoods like Dumbo, Williamsburg, Long Island City, The Navy Yard and Gowanus. But getting to and from these locations by mass transit has not been easy and has slowed down this movement of tech companies to embrace the outer boroughs.

Mayor de Blasio will announce a very important initiative in his State Of The City speech today called The Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) that will do a lot to solve this mass transit problem. It’s a light rail system that runs along existing streets from the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhoods to the Queens waterfront neighborhoods. It will look like this:


And here is the proposed route:


This is a big deal for NYC and a big deal for the NYC tech sector. Fixing the transportation problems into these developing neighborhoods will bring people and jobs and new vitality to these waterfront neighborhoods. This is such a good idea. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this issue and look forward to riding the BQX from a board meeting in Sunset Park to a board meeting on the Cornell Tech Campus in a few years.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    Beautiful design, lucky NYC. They look like the mass transit trains in Marseilles, by the way.I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens before and would walk along the coast towards Red Hook and beyond. Lots of industrial land ripe for redevelopment (office + retail spaces + schools) to house startups and families.

  2. Sebastien Latapie

    As a frequent visitor of NYC this will be so nice. No longer will I need to be drenched in sweat from power walking all over the place.

  3. Mike Zamansky

    This is terrific but don’t forget CitiBike for travel between Brooklyn and Queens.

  4. LE

    Great idea but it looks like something that will take 15 to 20 years until it actually is in service. (Article says 2024 but I believe that is way to ambitious.)

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Interesting. The article mentions that the trolley system didn’t die of natural causes, it was literally killed by opposing private interest. Is this true? Are we less machiavelic in 2016 than in 1920?

      1. kirklove

        I have no idea Lawerence. Quite possible.

  5. LE

    Nice that you believe enough in this idea to put money into the feasibility study:…A study commissioned for a nonprofit called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector — whose members include transit experts, community leaders and business giants like Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios, investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm — envisions sleek streetcars zipping through 10 neighborhoods along the 17-mile stretch of waterfront land between Sunset Park and Astoria.

  6. andyswan

    NYC is so unique. Love it.

  7. Justin Fyles

    Man, we need this in Boston from Union Square in Somerville through Central Square in Cambridge and down to Allston and Brookline!

  8. Richard

    New meaning to Ruby on Rails

  9. laurie kalmanson

    i love mass transit — i think it should be free because the value of having people use cars less is that huge a public good — but i am worried about the flood zone overlay.

    1. pointsnfigures

      No, it should never be free if it gives people value. Initially, the mass transit system in Chicago was private, and built with private dollars. Worked tremendously.

      1. Richard

        Who do you think is paying to build it? Tax payers will pay for it because it has value.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Fares should never be free. There are costs to operating it, labor, physical plant. It should also not be run at break even because if there is an unexpected event that causes something to go wrong, that will increase variability and costs; break even becomes loss. That’s borne by the taxpayer too.

      2. LE

        And in some cases free will end up costing more because people will use it when they don’t even need to use it so having some cost is a good governor on overuse. [1][1] The example I use is free wifi at hotels I’d rather have paid wifi so it isn’t in theory as clogged up. (Plus even a higher priced premium choice to keep the pains in the asses off.)

      3. Jeff Judge

        > Worked tremendously.Still does – over 500M rides in 2015. Bus ridership contracting, rail growing.

    2. ShanaC

      yesssssssPlus those areas are very overvalued, large chunks of them have great train service. Further east there are far less interconnections/density of service, plus cheaper real estate. I’m a little bizzarred out it isn’t going there

  10. awaldstein

    This is goodness.If it takes longer and costs more–don’t care.If he really can’t get it going fast enough–don’t care.In NY getting the right thing started is the first most important step.

  11. phoneranger

    This is a great idea for the late 2020s if we don’t have more Sandys. However today we could put a Limited Stop bus service linking Astoria and Sunset Park. In a few years we could have separated bus lanes for much of the route. This is something that could be achieved with relatively modest investment and in a short time with the added benefit of building a constituency for mass transit in that corridor. If the bus service gets to capacity there will be an immediate need and demand for streetcars. Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of something that could get done when we’re still around.

  12. pointsnfigures

    Interesting and looks very cool. I wonder how they will keep people off the tracks to avoid accidents? I have thought a trolley type system would be neat, but because it’s above ground, it increases the likelihood of accidents (cars, bikes, buses, trucks and pedestrians). Of course, tunneling under and hooking up with existing subway system is hyper expensive.NYC is a place where you really do need a lot of mass transit. High density in a jam packed geography. I saw a similar system to this in Istanbul. Worked well.

    1. LE

      You have to wonder the speed that this will operate at. If it’s to slow that would definitely change the dynamics of who will actually use it. Tunneling is a non starter obviously as is a tram (just on the basis of blocking views..)

  13. ZekeV

    That would be awesome!

  14. Brandon Kessler

    Awesome. However, is that the front of the train pointing in the direction opposite oncoming car traffic, and with no barriers between it and the cars or that biker? Oy.

  15. Tom Labus

    This is big move for NYC. Congrats to all and let’s go for a ride

  16. Richard

    Walt Disney was so ahead of his time

  17. jason wright

    how does a place get the name Dumbo? it seems very unlikely.

    1. ZekeV

      real estate agents trying to sell apartments in a crappy neighborhood of half-abandoned warehouses sandwiched between two freeway overpasses

    2. Salt Shaker

      DUMBO-created for an area “down under the Manhattan bridge.”

      1. jason wright

        ah, now i understand. similar naming process for Tribeca?

        1. Matt Cassity

          Triangle Below Canal

  18. ZekeV

    Any change like this in NYC will create winners and losers. Like bike lanes (also great thing) more surface mass transit will detract from the experience of driving. I foresee a future where driving in NYC is going to get shittier and shittier, and more residents will give it up. Those who still need to drive to get to work will become an increasingly embittered and angry lot of folks. This is like a REVERSE Robert Moses, where we take back neighborhoods from brutalist blight. The hardest part is starting a project like this — once it gets underway, it starts to create winners who become a new constituency to support further expansion.

    1. aseoconnor

      “REVERSE Robert Moses” – I love this concept.

    2. LE

      it starts to create winners who become a new constituency to support further expansionExactly. Per the snip I posted in another comment, supported by:Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firmThe first thing I thought was real estate before even reading that. Increase the value of anything located w/i walking distance of an entry point.

    3. Matt Zagaja

      As density goes up the opportunity cost of automobile transit increases significantly.

    4. ShanaC

      a lot of those neighborhoods are already expensive

  19. Salt Shaker

    Love it. Nice to see De Blasio get behind something w/ significant value for the citizens of Gotham vs. the inordinate time spent on relocating the horse & carriage trade as payback for political patronage.

  20. aseoconnor

    This would be a huge development for the city’s infrastructure, needed for a long time.In New Jersey the Hudson – Bergen light rail (which spans a similar distance as the BQX) cost $2.2 billion to build, and helps 54k people get to and from work every week.It has revitalized parts of the NJ, and helped the flow of workers.

  21. jason wright

    we have lines like this in my city, and more are to come. however, i would like to see a balanced strategy to encourage people to abandon their internal combustion engines in favour of electric vehicles. so, lanes and parking dedicated for the exclusive use of electrically powered cars would be a game changer. perhaps NYC already such schemes(?)how long is this new BQX line?

  22. Thor Snilsberg

    Working with transportation planners and community groups for over a decade there will always be lots of naysayers!My question for people in the know is, why couldn’t NYC roll out a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route along this route? Paint a lane, build simple bus bulbs, provide preferred signal timing for busses, enforce it with cameras, use GPS to provide departure and arrival time data, etc while the light rail is planned and funded. Compared to international BRT systems (many in 3rd world countries) our’s is slow and lacks many of the features that make BRT cost effective and efficient.PS. it kills me to see cities like Denver and the front range making huge public transportation advances while NYC struggles to make much needed projects like this a reality.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      CT recently implemented BRT around the Hartford area. It’s more successful than all the naysers claimed, but still a difficult sell to much of the public. They view it as inferior to rail.

    2. realposter

      Comparing Denver and NYC is ridiculous. The transport network in Denver is NOWHERE near that of NYC and is not going to get close in 4 decades even if NYC stood still right now.

      1. Thor Snilsberg

        I didn’t compare NYC to Denver in terms of public transportation history, miles, # stops, ridership, mode share, mode switch, etc. I was comparing NYC’s relative inability to “make a huge public transportation advance.”In the realm of light rail, NYC’s crowning achievement is the Air Link to JFK. Denver has built over 50 miles of modern neighborhood and business district serving light rail in less than 20 years.So yeah, in the comments of a blog post about light rail, it is ‘ridiculous’ to compare the NYC to Denver.All of this is absolutely insane considering we New Yorkers know the benefits of public transportation firsthand, Yet, we have let dozens great transit ideas slip through our fingers. Ever seen the data on bus travel time across Midtown Manhattan? FYI, a middle aged man can ride a kid’s Big Wheel across town faster,…. Terrible since Vision42 has been a viable idea for over a decade, luck Fred and all.

        1. realposter

          But yes – Vision 42 should have happened a long time ago. So should light rail in parts of the – much more densely populated than this proposed route parts of the west Bronx. I’m just saying – Denver is building all that light rail because it doesn’t have the density nor the desire to build the equivalent mileage of heavy rail. That lack of density also makes it much easier to build light rail. Denver has done good – but in no way is it comparable. I hear people make the same argument about LA. There was no heavy rail in LA – so it’s much easier. It’s almost like driving a car… It’s easier to go from 0 to 10 than 100 to 105. At 100 the car is under much more stress.

  23. Collin

    I think this is a fantastic idea, and I loved it as soon as I heard about it sometime last year. I feel like one of the issues that stands in the way is probably a generally negative view of above ground mass transit by the NYC population. Because we have the subway and have had the subway forever, we look at above ground options within the city itself as inferior. That’s a problem.The simple fact of the matter is that the cost associated with more underground public transit is significantly higher than above ground, and in order to continue to grow and improve the city, we’re going to need to look at more economical mass transit options like above ground light rail. Would it be better if this were a subway line? Yes. Would it take exponentially more time and money to do it that way? Yes.We can’t let an infatuation with the subway prevent the city from advancing and improving. I love the subway, and I’ve been taking it every day since I moved to the city at the age of 14; however, I know we need more mass transit in the outer boroughs, and the MTA simply cannot afford to add more subway service than we already have. They’re tens of billions behind just maintaining the system we already have.

  24. Matt Cassity

    Why is this better than a bus route? Seems like it would be much easier to implement and test to see how people use the route. The renderings might not look as cool though…

    1. LE

      Well for many reasons. Just one is that if someone has an agenda they want it to be permanent and locked in. Real estate interests wouldn’t be served by a test since you are not going to invest money in (or buy as a result of) something that will go through an initial test phase and then if successful needs to then get built. If it were my axe to gore (edit: “axe to grind”) I’d definitely go for the tracks. I am sure that the projections show it’s a good idea and given that it’s OPM on the line save the initial feasibility and time involvement why not do it?

      1. phoneranger

        Matt your logic is totally unconvincing. RE investors are already in the corridor in case you haven’t noticed. Anyway it’s not about them is it? And OPM is really OURM isn’t it. Finally you gore oxen not axes.

        1. LE

          My name is not Matt.Investors were already in prior to the 2nd ave subway being built as well. Of course real estate will go up in value if it’s easier for people to get in and out of an area regardless of current prices and/or interest.And OPM is in reference to people pushing this who will benefit more than the people who are paying for it even though they will also be “paying” for it as an increase in their taxes. [1][1] If I own a piece of real estate and the township wants to place a bus route outside where my property is located (that I and others will pay for in increased taxes) it will benefit me more with the small tax increase (if that happens) than it will a person who doesn’t get that type of benefit. So while we all “pay for it” some benefit more than others.

    2. Phil Chacko

      Will likely have a dedicated lane and perception (brand) of priority over surface (non-rail?) traffic. In SF I’m way more likely to take muni rail vs. muni bus.In any case, I’m hoping self-driving Lyft Lines for $3 beat them to the punch.

  25. William Mougayar

    Putting ground/transportation infrastructure in place is so important, and it is something that Western Europe has done very well. We tend to make big deals about this in North America. How many airports in NA connect to their downtown core via a high-speed train that gets there in less than 20 mins? Few indeed, whereas it’s a standard for large European cities.This is a great initiative for NY obviously. I wished the Waterloo-Toronto corridor would get something like this. Instead, there is constant discussions and compromises because that route crosses 3 jurisdictions (2 cities and one provincial) and therefore creates more sources of disagreements between them.

  26. Jorge M. Torres

    Sweet!!! Getting from LIC to DUMBO (and points South) is a major PITA right now. Hopefully, this will make the trip a lot smoother.I could see a string of pearls emerging along this route with true startup communities, or micro communities, springing up near each stop. I think this is already happening but this project could really accelerate things.

  27. Michael Elling

    It looks like single set of tracks, which means there need to be “passing points” for 2-way service. Wonder how many street systems operate that way? Google search is inconclusive.Another major transportation initiative addressing east-west and north-south traffic in 3 boroughs could be a “Northern Connection” subway line running from the Hudson River under 125th Street to Hunts Point in the Bronx, then to LaGuardia, Citifield and ending at Jamaica Center.–It would connect ferries from NJ, ~15 subway lines, 2-3 major rail-lines, 5 universities, major sporting venues, 2 airports. Mobility across the boroughs would explode.–The amount of vehicular traffic and wear and tear on bridges and highways would decline or at least not increase for some time.–Time savings for hundreds of thousands of people daily.–There would be an explosion in real-estate values and development in numerous isolated (and mostly industrial) areas of NYC.Cost maybe $40-50bn?Comparables:Big Dig, $25bnLIRR tunnel to GC, $11bn2nd Ave line, $17bn(Proposed NY/NJ Rail tunnel), $20bnPotential economic network effect for rest of city would be huge. Not sure about tunneling in LI terra (in)firma.One can dream….

  28. jason wright

    in my city each tram has a name. one is named after Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and the writer of the world’s first computer code. local girl;…i wonder who NYC might name each of its new trams/ trains after?

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      This is best done in the UK.…Where else in the world would there be a three year waiting list to name a logistics truck ?Either we brits are truly weird or our marketing people are truly imaginative. Looking at some of what passes for promotion in mainland Europe I would vote for a “bit of both”

  29. davidblerner

    if this comes off, it’s huge… this is a return to the old trolleys that they had there a long time ago… you can still see the ancient tracks running through the cobbles in dumbo….

  30. Matthew Zadrozny

    Sorely needed, but why is this at street level — where it will, presumably, stop for light after light — and not on the (elevated) BQE?

  31. Rob Underwood

    As the Co-Chair of the Youth, Human Services, and Education Committee, and member of the Executive Committee, of Community Board 6 (Park Slope, Red Hook, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill. Columbia Street District), thank you Fred for your leadership on this. This new light rail will be a critical transportation link for all six of our neighborhoods, especially Red Hook, presently under-served by public transportation.

  32. sigmaalgebra

    Cute.For reasoning below I have to guess that it won’t get built.Although I’ve lived 70 miles north of Wall Street for plenty of years, I have never been to Brooklyn or Queens — need a map even to know where they are.But the movie Lord of War started out apparently near the southern end of the proposed route. The movie was not flattering about that area!But reading the comments, I saw the mention of buses, guess that they would be a better idea, and wonder about buses. Buses could start tomorrow, initially would have lower capex since would not need to lay tracks, should have lower capex over time due to buses being a competitive market but those pretty, cute, special trains are not, will have lower opex over time since don’t need to maintain tracks and since maintenance for buses is very well understood but for the low volume trains is not. Bus drivers — lots of them; low volume train operators … not so many.Then over time, might want to grow or alter the system, and that would be much easier for buses than trains since would not need to consider tracks.And, during high volume, run more buses. Yes, during high volume could run more trains, but there are issues of multiple trains on one track. E.g., during high volume, some buses could be direct and pass buses that were making local stops, but with just one track the trains couldn’t do that.Also, if there’s a really big demand for such a thing, then the taxi people should be seeing it now.Also, if the demand is big now, then some entrepreneur should get a small bus and start providing service. There could be several such with that part of business called competition.Maybe Fred will be able to fill all of us in on what we are missing.Here is one thing I see: Just since the Iowa caucus, the number of border control agents on the US southern border was cut by 1/2. Next, Obama was involved in a program to have a lot more monitoring and earlier warning of earthquakes on the US west coast. Next, Obama gave a speech at a mosque. Hmm … Each of the last two bumped out of the headlines the earlier ones. So, looks like, especially since Iowa, want the open borders and, then, right away push out two stories to put things into the headlines that will drive the 1/2 cut out of the headlines.Lesson: Can announce something like a train and get a headline. Of course, it will take years to know if the tracks get laid or not or if the train is a success or not, but the headline is now with no cost soon for no results. Ah, politics 101. Hmm, …., maybe that issue of time is the main reason the subject was a train, with a cute, pretty picture, instead of buses, public or private, or taxis.For one more, there is a thingy, a biggie thingy, about being liberal and being against cars and for passenger trains. Big on passenger trains. Really love passenger trains. Want cute trains, subway trains, high speed trains, monorail trains, capsules down a vacuum tube trains, network all over the country trains, like in France trains, noting that Japan has trains and China is building trains. Liberal politicians are totally in love with trains.Then what usually happens is someone, some dirt bag, adds up the total cost and the total passenger miles and gets a big number per passenger mile. Shockingly big. Then the fares don’t cover the costs, and the trains need subsidies. E.g., the last time I got my car registered, I had to pay a big, extra fee to support the losses on the Metro, which I have ridden only once (right, it was a round trip). For a while I was working near Wall Street and found that from 70 miles away my car was faster than the Metro trains. Then there is Biden’s train, Amtrak, which IIRC has lost money each year from the first.Ah, once I was in an econ lecture discussing cost/benefit analysis of the Baltimore subway, just completed. The analysis found the optimal solution. May I have the envelope, please? [drum roll]. And the winner is, shut it down and brick up the entrances. Literally. Regarding the capex of building the subway as for free, just the operating costs would be higher than anyone would be willing to pay.Such public projects go way back. Near 1900 people discovered that some biggie water projects could make the desert bloom, could grow cotton, etc. So, soon enough there was a big flood of proposals for projects to make desert land bloom. Sure, the land was owned privately but the water was to be paid for publicly. Hmm.To stop this flood, a law was passed on cost/benefit analysis that said that can’t build unless the benefits, added up over all ways and people, exceed the costs. I have a whole book on that stuff. Well, that criterion greatly pruned back the number of water projects. Cost/benefit analysis may have some legal status now for water projects and much more. Somehow I have to suspect that the proposed train project would fail cost/benefit analysis.IIRC around the US there are high speed train projects states refuse to participate in because they know that the operating costs will need big subsidies.Ah, my father grew up in West Valley, NY, a little south of Buffalo. My wife grew up in Claypool, IN, about 15 miles south of Warsaw about 30 miles west of Fort Wayne. Right, nearly no one ever heard of either West Valley or Claypool. But they had something in common: Passenger train service. No doubt could, with enough changes of trains, actually travel from one to the other. Right: At one time, the US had passenger train service from nearly every little crossroads village to nearly every other crossroads village. Maybe mostly the tracks are still there, but the service is long gone with the wind. It was killed by the passenger car and airplanes. Freight service? Still there. Passenger service? Gone.Lesson: Mostly in the US, passenger trains don’t work. Better than walking or horses, yes. Compete with buses, cars, and airplanes? Mostly no.In NYC? Sure: NYC is built assuming the subway system. Now, NYC needs the subway system. And a subway system needs something like NYC.Maybe the people who like trains have another argument: Sure, in the immediate term, trains lose money. But with good train service, with subsidies for enough years, the geography, e.g., density of people, businesses, buildings, will increase so that then the trains will be great — the geography and the trains will need each other. Maybe so. But, why bother? I mean, especially now, with the Internet, why should population density in some places be so high that private cars are a bad idea and trains, the only good idea?There is a special case of this: In or near a city, just go ahead and build a passenger train system. By the time the system is built, the real estate business will have positioned enough residential and business floor space to make the system get good revenue.Ah, for Brooklyn-Queens, sounds like they need buses. It’s ironic that Brooklyn-Queens would need a passenger train, where geographic location is crucial, for businesses that depend on the Internet where geographic location is relatively unimportant.I sense (A) politics looking for headlines today with no blame for no progress for many months and (B) the total love of liberals for passenger trains. Thus, my guess is that the system will never get built.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Update: Stop, wait, this just in!!! Obama wants a tax of $10 per barrel of oil! Gee, we should have seen that coming, right? No sooner does the oil industry, especially US fracking, get down the cost of oil than along comes Obama wanting to push the price back up with new taxes.Why? Sure, get a headline, so far one a day since the 1/2 cut in the number of border agents since the Iowa debate.Also, play on the slander that private cars are evil, e.g., destroy the gorgeous, pure, pristine, precious, 100% all-natural, sensitive, delicate, God-given, green environment with its diversity of flora and fauna — some such. “More greenie, tree-hugging adjectives, Ma!”.Help stop the sinful, evil practice of humans releasing CO2 into that 100% all-natural environment and cause hideous global warming and devastating climate change, flooding NYC, islands in the Pacific, major parts of the coasts of Europe, etc. Raise new taxes. Fund more projects for renewable energy. Pay off selected special interests. Raise US energy prices to shoot the US in the gut. Little objectives like those.So, Obama made a push for more monitoring of earth quakes on the US west coast. Okay, pluck money from the broad economy to make some special interests happy.Get on the global warming bandwagon, e.g., help the NYT get eyeballs from pushing the global warming scam propaganda, pluck money from the broad economy to make some special interests happy, e.g., people who want to sell solar panels and wind turbines and force electric utilities to pay for solar power fed into the grid and, thus, raise MY GD ELECTRIC RATES — no thanks. Rip-off, flim-flam, fraud, scam, swindle.CO2? The scientific record is rock solid and crystal clear: From the ice core samples, e.g., from Vostok in the Antarctic, CO2 has had nothing, zip, zilch, and zero to do with the temperature of the planet. Sure, CO2 is a (mild) greenhouse gas; greenie Tom Friedman gets the science badly wrong. Light a match and warm the planet, but the warming is trivial. Release some CO2 from burning fossil fuels — similar result, trivial.Details are in The Great Global Warming Swindle, right a convenient movie at…Here’s another scam for Obama to push: Gather thousands of people before a big rock and pick some pretty teen girls from the audience. Lead the girls to the rock, kill them, and pour their blood on the rock. Why? Sure, to keep the sun moving across the sky since otherwise it might stop and, thus, destroy the planet. Sure, we need a reference: At…from page 76 ofSusan Milbrath, ‘Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (The Linda Schele Series inMaya and Pre-Columbian Studies)’, ISBN-13 978-0292752269,University of Texas Press, in partIndeed, blood sacrifice is required for the sun to move,according to Aztec cosmology (Durian 1971:179; Sahaguin 1950 – 1982, 7:8).Go for it, Obama! If you like shooting our economy and country in the gut from killing off much of our energy industry, throwing away money on nonsense like Solindra and subsidies of about $100,000 per Tesla car, and letting in radical Islamist terrorists jihadists from Syria, then you should really like killing teenage girls to pour their blood on a rock to keep the sun moving across the sky. Gee, since the Mayans believed it and did it, so should you.Am I pissed off at this flim-flam, fraud, scam swindle? “No, I’ve been pissed off. This is way past pissed off.”Greenies want subsidies and trains, right?

  33. conorop

    I’m a big fan of light rail projects, but I’m an opponent of street-level light rail for a couple key reasons:1) the trains are at the mercy of traffic and lights2) it eliminates any notion of an express routeI went to Boston College and the B Green line (built on Comm Ave) was literally on the edge of campus, and it was faster for students wait for a shuttle to take us 2 miles down the road to the D Green line, which was not on a street.I live in MN now, and our street-level light rail is pathetically slow.I do agree with @gr33n_island:disqus – that rails are more appealing than buses, but street-level rails are short-sighted.

  34. george

    This proposed rail system looks very similar to those found in Melbourne Australia; that would be a great transit model.

  35. Brandon Burns

    This is a dream come true. I’m jealous of all the New Yorkers who’ll be able to take advantage of it.I’m baffled at the attempt to find something wrong with this in the comments. Maybe folks don’t understand because they don’t live in the area, but anyone who lives or works on this route knows how absolutely huger than huge this is. If anything, we should be applauding the expansion of light rail systems in major cities; they do nothing but good, wherever they are.

    1. Jeremy Robinson

      You nailed it Brandon!

    2. panterosa,

      I agree with you Brandon that light rail and other public transport should be applauded. For sure they need to be week thought out, but the US is one of few modern countries which shun public transport. I blame Robert Moses. In my view he wrecked a lot of great options for NYC.

  36. Steve Lincoln

    And BQX with Wi-Fi would be even better!

  37. Brooklyn_Guy

    A great positive here is that 2.5 billion dollars might be available to provide sorely needed improved transit to the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts. However, a light rail that runs on and intertwined with city roads, at average 12 miles an hour(!), and with what seem to be no or few connections to major transit points, is a suboptimal solution. That money would easily sponsor several of these more practical (but less sexy) solutions: *An express bus system. These have proven to work extremely well in the urban areas where they have been implemented. They are faster and cheaper to set up and run, quicker, and far more flexible that the fixed track tram system proposed here. These express systems can also include right-of-ways and other speed enhancing mechanisms.*Decrease the fare and increase the frequency and extend the range of the existing East River boats. The existing boats are already faster than the tram would be for the portion of the route they duplicate.*increase the speed and frequency, and restore the queens reach of the G train. Increase bus access to the line, and create a pedestrian tunnel to connect the Fulton G stop to Pacific Atlantic.*Reintroduce recently axed bus lines to these targeted waterfront areas. Optimize stop locations on existing bus lines. Improve dependability and frequency. Many or most of of our bus lines still closely follow our original Brooklyn trolley routes from 100 years ago. Surely needs and transportation patterns have changed at least a little over that period.(Fun fact- the old Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team were named after “trolley dodgers”, a Brooklyn nickname of the time. Brooklyn was completely covered in trolleys, and it used to be hard enough to cross the street that the name stuck.)I’m glad to see focus on providing better transportation to these neighborhoods, but we should not let pretty pictures distract us from practical solutions.

  38. JLM

    .I served on the CMTA (Capitol Metropolitan Transportation Authority) board. Cap Metro was a state agency in ATX which oversaw the construction of Austin’s first light rail.As a civil engineer, numbers guy, and builder, I studied the numbers from every city in the US — in that time period — that had or was contemplating a light rail system. The analytical framework is similar and the usual suspects are selling the studies like playbills.The numbers are cooked like menudo or global warming and they are totally unreliable but the only ones which ever came close to being reasonable investments were the ones with real density.This proposed system has real density.The other benefits — increased real estate values and thus property taxes, convenience, job linkages and thus income taxes, time savings, the list can go on for a bit but you get the idea — were intangibles but turned out to be very real.The intangibles will justify this project.It will take twice as long and cost twice as much as initially estimated. It will not carry the first rider for 20 years from today. I will take bets on that — only from the younger readers as some here may not live to see it happen.In the end, it will link places like Red Hook with its lovely waterfront and otherwise current nasty ambiance to the rest of beautiful Brooklyn and Long Island.Go buy all those quasi-warehouses (like the old ammunition plants above Red Hook) with their huge parking lots. Sit on them for 20 years and leave them to your children. They will love you for it.If not, buy some of those elegant old butchered brownstones, renovate them and sit still.One day people will brag that they live on the water in Red Hook.For some reason, the pastiche of rail has more allure than a bus line — and, of course, there will be the global warming and air pollution arguments. Real estate investors are wary of changing hub and spoke bus systems while rail is permanent.Whoever conceived this plan within the existing ROW is smart as the ROW would cost a trillion dollars to acquire and would destroy the very neighborhoods it seeks to serve.A one line system with small sidings to coordinate simultaneous north-south flow is a very easy proposition where once upon a time it was inconceivable.Project works. Project gets built. Takes twice as long. Costs twice as much. Mayor DeBlasio is still a train wreck of a Communist who gets Commerce in a Bernie Sanders politboro.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  39. Lawrence Brass

    Cool. Have NYC city planners ever considered a fluvial mass transport system that would run along the river? Something like a 21st century version of the Staten Island ferry with super integrated dock-stations.

  40. Justin Kaskel

    Fred, although it is refreshing to be optimistic about an entirely new NYC mass transit program, you can’t blame those of us that have a “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude.

  41. ShanaC

    I don’t get why not further eastOr a second line further east

    1. Supratim Dasgupta

      you live further east?

      1. ShanaC

        Slightly, but not as east as I think it should be

        1. Supratim Dasgupta

          Good..I live on 6 line. on 96th.and wish someone did something about the train..takes forever to come and then no seats.I think Lex or 3rd is wide enough for a street car..they are adding a Q stop now.

  42. James Anstey

    I met the architect the other day for this project. It’s being funded by real estate interests as the transport from Williiamsburg to manhattan, and Navy yard to anywhere is overloaded. They are starting in 2019, and funding is all from tax incentives (abatements). No government $ is being used so it can start quicker than 2nd Ave project. I live by the Navy Yard. This is terrific.

  43. Voice-of-Reason

    6 Reasons The BQX is a Stupid Idea1- The streetcar is advertised to take 27 minutes to go from Greenpoint to Dumbo. TheEast River Ferry does that same trip TODAY in 15 minutes and requires no further infrastructure.2 – Roads along the waterfront carry cars, pedestrians and bicyclists – and are already straining at capacity. Adding a streetcar infrastructure will deepen the problem – slowing traffic and creating a congestion nightmare for the people who live there.3 – At peak rush hour, the city is currently running east river ferry boats every 20 minutes along much of the BQX route. Those ferries never run at full capacity and are often half full or less. If someday they do fill up, it would be simple to double capacity as needed by running the boats every 10 minutes – all without clogging the already over-burdened streets along the waterfront.4 – An observation of ferry ridership during morning rush hour reveals that of thepassengers getting on in Dumbo, South Williamsburg, North Williamsburg andGreenpoint – 98 out of 100 get off the ferry at the Manhattan Stop. They DON’T get off in Queens. The real community need is to get Brooklyn and Queens residents to their jobs inManhattan. Yet the BQX doesn’t travel to Manhattan and has minimal connection to the subway. Who are we building this for? (answer: Brooklyn and Queens real estate developers hoping to capitalize on increased property values).5- The $2.5B needed to build the streetcar system that will be theoretically”recouped” from residential real estate taxes driven up by increased real estate values and increased taxation – are revenues that are already growing – and will continue to grow – and could be better spent on more important and less invasive infrastructure projects (e.g., fixing the L train, getting better service on the JMZ train, adding a subway stop on the Brooklyn side of Williamsburg Bridge (e.g., Wythe avenue), building parks along thewaterfront, adding buses to key routes, adding ferries and ferry stops, etc.)6 – Growing industrial centers like the Brooklyn Navy Yard will indeed require masstransit to ensure their growth and to provide easy access for the people who will need to travel to these destinations. However, the Brooklyn Navy Yard has more river frontage than any growing industrial center in the northeast. Bringing people to the Navy Yard by ferry from Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan would be one of the easiest and cheapest urban transportation projects in recent memory. Why would we need a streetcar infrastructure running exactly the same route?

    1. Jess Bachman

      Well… I know nothing about the situation, but I’d have to agree completely.

    2. Tom Hughes

      I like ferries too but they don’t substitute for light rail, which gets closer to peoples’ real origins and destinations. Has anyone looked at the experience and economics of the NJTransit light rail in Jersey City? I know firsthand that it’s well used but I don’t know if it’s having an impact on local development.Separately, the argument that we need more capacity to Manhattan is exactly backwards; what we need are ways to divert development from Manhattan into other areas so more people can work in their own borough.New York mayors struggle to focus on infrastructure given the pressure of the day to day; I’m glad de Blasio is pushing this. I just wish we could close La Guardia, sell the land and build a modern airport out of town with high speed rail connection to our mass transit! Sigh…

  44. Carrie

    Interesting discussion and it’s wonderful that we live in a city where government and business leaders think about the future in big(ish) ways. But I’m very surprised that Mr. Wilson didn’t include his involvement in the project right up front, as a member of the group “Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector.” He hinted at it in a comment by saying “I know a lot about the project.” If he were quoted in a newspaper on the project they would need to mention his association and I’d like to think I can rely on that same kind of forthrightness in a blog. (I only knew about the connection because a commenter linked to the Daily News article. The link in the blog entry to the NYT story does not list who is a Friend.)

  45. Mark Essel

    I dig it. Not sure how cities will continue to grow, but expand they will.Light rail transit speeds are ~subway speeds?i’ve quite a few friends who have 30-50min commutes from parts of Queen and Brooklyn into Manhattan. I don’t know anyone who commutes from Brooklyn to Queens regularly (yet).

  46. Daniel Price

    This is a very dumb project like really it connects Sunset Park to Astoria. Seriously who does that. Yea Astoria is a good place but Sunset park inst the major part of Brooklyn. Maybe like Coney island and Brighton Beach would be a good idea to build it to there. And maybe adjacent lines from Center of Manhattan to the Astoria and down to Brooklyn. Like seriously it would be amazing to get people off of belt parkway and the bqe. This route is very naive forgetting about the other side of Brooklyn.

  47. RV

    I love this project! Bravo DeBlasio! G trains sucks, Pulaski & Kosciusko ain’t enough. Let’s do this.

  48. jason wright

    i’d like to see cities encouraging residents to replace their fossil fuel cars with electric. that requires economic incentives. start by converting fossil fuel bus fleets to electric and build the necessary charging station infrastructure and allow the public to charge their cars at subsidised rates, and provide subsidised parking for electric, and exclusive traffic lanes for electric.

  49. Steven Kane

    Hope this happens – long overdue, fantastic addition to NYC.Btw, what is the difference between “light rail” and (I assume) “heavy rail”?

  50. Morry Edelstein

    #BQCBUSLINE, BQXBUSLINE Low cost, immediate impact, decrease commute time, enhance tourism. Do it now, why wait???

  51. Morry Edelstein


  52. fredwilson

    I think you are dead wrong about that Paul. But I know a lot about this project and you don’t

  53. ZekeV

    But we are getting the 2nd Ave Subway finally, and if they can get that done, they really ought to be able to bring back the trams. Notice when you walk around DUMBO all those old tracks that are half-buried in blacktop? Way easier to bring these routes back, then to dig a tunnel under ground. I would guess orders of magnitude cheaper, though you do have to deal with more traffic issues.

  54. LE

    But I know a lot about this project and you don’tThat is a constant source of frustration for us pundits and talking heads.[1][1] It’s surprising that we show up for “work” here everyday.

  55. Jeremy Robinson

    I agree with Fred. I have a Client on the inside at City gov and altho DeBaz is far from perfect [he needs to widen his circle of key influencers, I’m told], the way he’s innovating and driving change in BK and Queens is unrivaled in the past fifty years of NYC mayoral administrations. You could look it up, as Casey Stengel used say.

  56. LE

    It’s often a battle between “idealistic optimism” and “pessimistic reality” here in the comments section of AVC.

  57. fredwilson

    Negativity is a catalyst for that

  58. jason wright

    ah, i was wondering what the O stood for.

  59. jason wright

    that is the human condition.

  60. jason wright

    first rule of public spending. why buy one when you can have two at twice the price. cheaper alternatives don’t swell the profits of construction companies and their this project going out to public tender?

  61. Dennis Mykytyn

    You are kidding right? Only one small part of the 2nd Ave subway is going to be done, from 96th to 63rd. The rest of it won’t be finished in our lifetimes. The next phase goes up from 96th to 125th St, and there is no funding in the capital plan to even do the engineering work, much less build it. The MTA might start the engineering after 2020. Phase 3, from 63rd down to Houston is even farther out in the future. Not until Phase 3 is completed will the new “T” line be ready. Until then they are just shuttle/connector type service.

  62. LE

    Please don’t tell me that you want everyone here to be like Arnold with his “this is all goodness” comment.

  63. Phil Chacko

    To be totally abstract about it, Americans prefer the freedom of point-to-point decentralized networks to the hegemony of a hub-and-spoke model.(Doesn’t reflect those who prefer dense cities.)

  64. Matt Zagaja

    Typically transport infrastructure disproportionally benefits people in dense places and so people in suburbs or rural areas (who tend to be over-represented in upper chambers of legislatures compared to city populations) oppose them since they do not see the benefit but their tax dollars go towards them.

  65. Matt Kruza

    Random shout out matt but I love how your comments here are usually very clear, and non-politicized. There are many of us who have opinions, but usually let our bias get the best of us, but you seem to rise above that. So congrats 🙂

  66. Brooklyn_Guy

    A very good point, but I’d also add that a cause of this is that for historical reasons, American wealth is probably more prevalent in suburban, transit unfriendly areas versus other countries. Much of the US developed during an automobile optimized time, and the resulting urban/suburban population distributions don’t easily support effective train lines. On the other hand, places like London or Tokyo developed their footprints in an environment where trains were a more prevalent form of transportation, so the resulting density pattern and urban design supports the lines. It is difficult to switch from one model to the other, even though trains are ideally a much better solution. The east coast was generally developed during train friendly times, and it is no accident that the Northeast is virtually the only region where Amtrak makes money.

  67. Jeremy Robinson

    You might be wrong about that one also Paul. He may not look so good sometimes and certainly Murdoch and NY Post hate him but please tell me who is going to beat him? He might have more staying power than some folks who spend a lot of time in Manhattan think. [Full disclosure: I spend a lot of time in Manhattan]

  68. Salt Shaker

    Top-of-mind, Bratton, Stringer, Tish James can give De Blasio a run for his money. He hasn’t shown particularly good judgment or leadership with his bungling of relations w/ police, Cuomo, etc. He aspires to be recognized on a national scale in a way that is painfully transparent and frankly ill timed. His focus on the alleged horse and carriage “problem” reeks of political patronage. The NYP amusingly does hammer him, but no differently than how they treat any Dem. There’s a lot of time left but I think he’s quite vulnerable.

  69. Lawrence Brass

    One cappucino, one expresso.. for table 2, one martini no olive double bourbon table 8.. what are you mumbling?.. c’mon Larry.. move, move, move.

  70. Jeremy Robinson

    I thought he was vulnerable to Stringer also whom I prefer. But I’m told Stringer has got zip support outside of Manhattan. Bratton? Hadn’t thought of that one. Can’t think of any recent NYC Police Commish who have made the pivot to Mayor. I don’t disagree with your criticism of De Blasio but….[and I hate to say this], he has strong support from Unions who he refuses to offend or confront [witness how Local 7 pushes his Administration on matters related to AIRNBN].

  71. Lawrence Brass

    Without the O it would have been DUMB. Taking a nap at Dumb Park.I always asked myself the same question about the meaning.. secretly looking for a Dumbo the elphant bronze statue somewhere nearby. Totally dumb idea.