New York Governor Announces Interborough Express Light Rail Project

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that New York’s Interborough Express service will be constructed as a light rail line following a recent Planning and Environmental Linkages study.

The Interborough Express project was initially announced in 2022 to connect communities in Brooklyn and Queens to 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

This service will significantly reduce travel times along a 14-mile corridor in the two boroughs. For example, journey times between Brooklyn and Queens would be reduced by up to 30 minutes each way.

Interborough Express
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the 2023 State of the State plan on 10 January 2022

Key factors in progressing with light rail include its ability to deliver on capacity, speed and reliability.

Drawing conclusions from the Planning Study, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) determined that light rail would be the most efficient mode of transportation for this service, while offering the lowest cost per rider.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said:

“Moving forward with Light Rail for the Interborough Express means better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities for some 900,000 New Yorkers in Queens and Brooklyn. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on this exciting project and look forward to working with stakeholders and local communities to move the proposed project forward.”

The new route will use an existing freight rail line from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights that connects diverse neighbourhoods throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

Consequently, light rail was deemed to be a constructible option for the new service, as the flexible vehicles are compatible with the existing corridor. In addition, the vehicles will be able to run on the street for short distances, thus avoiding construction of a complex and costly tunnel.

The Planning Study indicates that up to 115,000 daily weekday riders would use the 14-mile line, with approximately 34.6 million riders annually.

This proposed service would operate at up to five-minute headways during the peak periods and up to 10 minutes during off-peak times.

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