February 20, 2019

LaGuardia Airport Could Be A Lot Easier To Get To If This $450 Million Plan For A New AirTrain Goes Through

JFK AirTrain Getty/Spencer Platt The JFK AirTrain putters along its three-mile track. Long maligned as the New York City airport least accessible by mass transit, LaGuardia may finally be getting the transportation options it needs.

In a speech that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave Tuesday morning, he loosely laid out a plan for an AirTrain to connect LaGuardia Airport with the 7 train of the New York City subway and the Port Washington Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, via the Grand Central Parkway.

“You can’t get to LaGuardia by train there and that really is inexcusable,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Observer. “And that we’re going to change over the next several years.”

The point of connection would be at Mets-Willets Point Station, about a mile and a half from the airport via the top of Grand Central Parkway. It would be a 30-minute ride on the subway from Grand Central Station in midtown Manhattan.

Cuomo’s administration has been quoted as saying the project will cost roughly $450 million to build and take about five years to construct. However, those figures have been criticized by transit advocates as optimistic considering the ballooning price of capital projects in New York City.

Another point of criticism is the proposed route. The 7 train is already notoriously crowded, the trains are narrower the ones that connect to the AirTrain to JFK Airport, and using Willets Point Station as the terminal for the AirTrain would necessitate a circular route from Manhattan — one that would take an estimated 50 minutes, transit advocates note.

AirTrainSkitch2 Google Maps

The question remains how Cuomo will be able to finance the $450 million construction of an AirTrain for LaGuardia when he still hasn’t figured out what to do with the MTA’s $15 billion budget gap.

Another concern is that Cuomo declined to put a timeline on the construction of the new train, saying he “would not venture a guess as to timing.”

7 train Flickr/Tim Adams Under Cuomo’s plan, the AirTrain would connect to the 7 train of the subway at Willets Point.

The Global Gateway Alliance, a group of business leaders interested in airport improvements, praised the plan but chastised Cuomo for his failure to set a timeline.

“We do not need words or speeches; we need action — both on the state and federal level — to provide a budget and timeline quickly,” GGA said in a statement.

We’ll have to wait and see if the dream can become reality.

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LaGuardia Airport Could Be A Lot Easier To Get To If This $450 Million Plan For A New AirTrain Goes Through