Southern Brooklyn

Study deems Brooklyn-Queens ‘Interborough Express’ feasible

January 21, 2022 Jaime DeJesus
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On Thursday, Jan. 20, Gov. Kathy Hochul and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber made publicthe results of a feasibility study for the proposed Interborough Express, which would use the Long Island Rail Road’s Bay Ridge freight line,as well as CSX freight tracks in Queens, to connect communities in the two boroughs.

The results indicate that it is physically feasible to accommodate passenger traffic alongside the existing freight rail traffic and that there is significant demand.

The studies looked at three options for the proposed line: Bus Rapid Transit (high-speed buses on their own dedicated roadways), Light Rail (similar to streetcars), and conventional Heavy Rail (subway or rail operation). 

The Interborough Express would connect neighborhoods including Bay Ridge (the western terminal, according to the map), Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights(the northern terminal). 

A rendering of an aerial view of a possible Ocean Avenue BRT Station in Brooklyn, with buses running above the freight trains. Courtesy of MTA

The project could also provide potential connections to up to 17 subway lines serving areas of Brooklyn and Queens. In Brooklyn, these could include the D train in Borough Park, the F train at McDonald Avenue, the B/Q trains in Flatbush, the 2 and 5 trains at Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn College, the 3 train in Brownsville, and the A, C, J, Z and L trains at Broadway Junction-East New York.

In addition, initial studies indicate the line would attract up to 80,000 daily weekday riders,with annual ridership of approximately 2.5 million. The end-to-end travel time is expected to be less than 40 minutes.

“The existing transit network in the study area is focused on linking Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan, but the majority of commute trips today are contained within Brooklyn and Queens,” the report says. 

The proposed route of the Interborough Express linking Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods.
Courtesy of MTA

“Around 86,000 and 27,000 commute trips from the study area remain within Brooklyn and Queens, respectively. Another 16,000 trips occur between the two boroughs, for a total of 129,000 trips. This is higher than the 85,000 trips that cross the East River to Manhattan,” it continues.

No matter whether the line is developed using Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail or Heavy Rail, the most heavily-used stations on a weekday basis, the report says, would be Utica Avenue (between 10,000 and 11,000 riders); East 16thStreet in Brooklyn (between 5,000 and 6,000 riders); Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn College (an estimated 5,000 riders) and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens (between 8,000 and 10,000 riders).

Hochul said that Interborough Express could connect people to their family and friends and improve quality of life.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul reveals the feasibility report for the Interborough Express. Photo courtesy of Gov. Hochul’s office

The next step is for the MTA to conduct required state and federal environmental review processes, which will include public engagement to gather input from communities, elected officials and other key stakeholders.

“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,” said Lieber.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who represents the 22nd State Senate District, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Marine Park. called the project a game changer for Southern Brooklyn and Queens

“It has the power to unlock economic and cultural opportunities all the way from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights, and stands to have a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of New York City residents,” he said. “Ensuring New Yorkers can support local businesses, grow their careers, and invest in their communities will be key to our city’s recovery, and I’m eager to continue working with Governor Hochul and the MTA to make this a reality.”

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