Residents to city: Streetcar can’t be amenity for rich, white yuppies

Residents to city: Streetcar can’t be amenity for rich, white yuppies
Friends of the BQX

They don’t want a gravy train.

The city must design its $2.5-billion Sunset Park-to-Queens streetcar line to help the borough’s neediest, not rich white yuppies, Brooklynites said at public forum in Red Hook on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know if the $2-billion dollar investment should just make it easier to go to a brewery or to go get brunch in Williamsburg, and it kind of feels like that’s what their motivation is,” said Ross Joy, who lives in Windsor Terrace and works in Red Hook.

Joy was one of dozens of Kings County residents who came to share their ideas with city reps at the borough’s first so-called “visioning session” for the trolley, which many have criticized as a boondoggle for the waterfront developers who initially lobbied for the service.

DeBlasio has pushed back against that characterization, stressing the 40,000 public housing residents who will live along the line when the tram starts running in 2024 — but Joy and others said he needs to put his money where his mouth is by creating a route with their needs in mind.

“Racial equity means that we don’t keep building the same systems based on white preference or white taste,“ he said. “Let’s see that it’s based on being connected to property lines of NYCHA developments.”

Attendees — who broke off into groups for discussions, then presented their ideas to the rest of the room — also agreed the streetcar needs to link up with ferry and subway stops and include free transfers to other modes of transportation.

“We ought to be able to get anywhere in the metropolitan area with a single ticket,” said Roy Howell, who lives in Carroll Gardens and claims to have ridden on more than 30 streetcar systems around the world.

City honchos admitted in February that riders may have to pay a second fare when switching from the tram to their forthcoming ferry service — as well as the state-controlled subway and bus system — and that many of the tram’s subway “transfers” will actually be up to a quarter-mile away.

A spokesman said at that time that it is negotiating with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the gratis switches, but has yet to announce a deal.

City officials say they’ll host more of the feedback-gathering sessions before designing and announcing the route in 2018.

They plan to begin construction — which could involve building two entirely new bridges — the following year.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Taking route: Attendees at the forum got together in groups to discuss their preferred routes — and other ideas and concerns — for the streetcar.