Proposed Interborough Express would serve 88,000 daily riders, Hochul says

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Kathy Hochul and MTA officials on Thursday discussed details of the Interborough Express, a proposed train line from southern Brooklyn to Queens using 14 miles of repurposed freight rail line, after a feasibility study for the project was completed.

The yearlong study researched the project's economic, technical, and scheduling capabilities.

"Interborough Express will connect New Yorkers with 17, count them, you heard it here first, 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road," Hochul said. "We project there will be up to 88,000 riders every day, and end to end would take about 40 minutes."

The Interborough Express would be built along the existing Bay Ridge connector, a freight line that extends from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights, and would cut down on travel times between the two boroughs, reduce congestion, and expand economic opportunities.

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The project would create a new transit option for close to 900,000 residents along the route, connecting the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

"Infrastructure is all about connection, and with the Interborough Express we can connect people to their family and friends while also improving their quality of life," Hochul said. "The Interborough Express will connect Brooklyn and Queens, not only shaving time off commutes but also making it easier to connect to subway lines across the route. With the completion of the feasibility study, we can move forward to the next phase of this project and bring us one step closer to making the Interborough Express a reality for New Yorkers."

If adopted, the new service would improve transit and job access to underserved communities along the corridor that is currently home to about 260,000 jobs, and with growth expected by at least 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs in the next 25 years.

Hochul said the feasibility study's results indicate that it is indeed physically feasible to accommodate passenger traffic alongside the existing freight rail traffic, that there is significant demand, and that Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail, and conventional Heavy Rail are all options in terms of the possible modes of transit.

For many residents along the corridor, crossing from neighborhood to neighborhood is slow and tedious because existing subway lines are oriented toward Manhattan.

According to the study, up to seven out of 10 people served will be from communities of color, approximately one-half will come from households with no cars, and approximately one-third will be living in households at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Line.

"MTA riders deserve a reliable and wide-reaching transit system that promotes equity, and this study proves The Interborough Express will provide better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities for some 80,000 New Yorkers in Queens and Brooklyn," MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said.

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The project would provide critical mobility, creating better links for travel to and from Manhattan as well as key connections among neighborhoods, across boroughs, and opening up new opportunities for reverse commuting into Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The Regional Plan Association released the following statement:

"Regional Plan Association is thrilled that Governor Hochul and the MTA have completed their initial study of the Interborough Express, which builds off RPA's Triboro plan first proposed in 1996," said Kate Slevin, Executive Vice President for Regional Plan Association. The Interborough Express is a crucial project for advancing New York's transportation equity, economic development, and climate goals, as the route will connect many of the city's car-dependent transit deserts with 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. By completing the first direct transit connection between Brooklyn and Queens in generations, the Interborough Express is a monumental step forward in moving away from our Manhattan-centric transit system toward a more comprehensive model that will benefit all residents. Throughout public and private meetings with elected officials, community, and business organizations over the past five years, we have seen tremendous support for this project."

Before approval, an environmental review must be completed, and there will also be input from elected officials.

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