NEW YORK — A new train line that would connect Brooklyn and Queens, serving roughly 1 million New Yorkers, was proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul during her State of the State address on Wednesday.
Vowing generational investment in New York City transit projects, Hochul directed the MTA to begin an environmental review for the project, which would span 14 miles from between Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Jackson Heights, Queens.
Dubbed the “Interborough Express,” Hochul’s proposal could connect as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. However, the governor also suggested the transit line could be as simple as express bus service — if the proposed rail line doesn’t pan out.
“It’s time to invest in the bold, cutting-edge infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “New Yorkers deserve reliable public transit that connects them from work to home and everywhere in between. The Interborough Express would be a transformational addition to Brooklyn and Queens, cutting down on travel time and helping neighborhoods and communities become cleaner, greener and more equitable.”
A spokesperson for the nonprofit transit advocacy group Riders Alliance hailed the project as a potential milestone in connecting Queens and Brooklyn via public transportation.
“Gov. Hochul’s proposed Interborough Express would dramatically improve access to the city for millions of people in Brooklyn and Queens. It’s a major advance toward transit equity and a critical tool in the fight against climate change,” Riders Alliance Policy & Communications Director Danny Pearlstein said in a statement. “The governor should maximize its value to New Yorkers with frequent and affordable service and connections to high speed, high capacity bus routes to neighborhoods far from the subway.”
If approved, the project would use an existing freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens called the Bay Ridge Branch. Potential stops on the train line could include Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.
Hochul pointed out that several new stations would serve communities that do not currently have a transit hub.
The project boasts some similarities to a failed streetcar proposal by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, one of the biggest critiques of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector was that it was too close to waterfront communities that already have ample access to subway service.
Crossing between Brooklyn and Queens can often be a painstaking process, especially for New Yorkers who do not have access to a car since all of the city’s existing subway lines are oriented toward or away from Manhattan.
The governor’s office estimated more than 100,000 commuters make daily trips within or across Brooklyn and Queens. These commutes are often lengthy, particularly when relying on buses to navigate congested streets.
The governor’s office estimated the new Interborough Express rail line would provide an end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, with significantly shorter commutes along smaller segments of the line.