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POLL: Mayor is on board with developer-backed streetcar plan — are you?

Oh, Jay there: This publicity image envisages a streetcar on Jay street Downtown.
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The mayor wants to build a $2.5-billion trolley line between Sunset Park and Queens, hopping aboard a proposal put together by developers and businesses along the suggested route.

But the plan is about more than just commerce, Hizzoner claims — the so-called Brooklyn Queens Connector would connect communities in subway-starved areas along the waterfront.

“The BQX has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” DeBlasio said during his annual State of the City speech on Thursday night.

The plan to bring trolley-dodging back to the Borough of Kings is reportedly the work of an organization calling itself Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, backed by Dumbo developer Two Trees — which is currently erecting high-rises at the old Domino sugar factory in Williamsburg — as well as other real-estate, business, and community interests.

The pitch is still light-on for details, but the mayor’s press office says it wants to install tracks on existing streets in Red Hook, Dumbo, Cobble Hill, Downtown, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.

Under the current plan, straphangers would be able to use the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ticket system to pay and a fare would cost the same as a subway swipe — at least according to former traffic commissioner “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, whose engineering firm is working for Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector.

The group championing the streetcar funded the study and proposal, but the city would have to pay for the multi-billion-dollar system itself — the Mayor claims taxes generated by increased property values along the route will cover the costs.

The entire thing would involve several years of planning and negotiations with local communities, the mayor’s office says — construction wouldn’t begin until at least 2019 and it would be at least 2024 before the system is up and running, by which time DeBlasio will be long gone from City Hall.

The man who hopes to be mayor by then, Borough President Adams, said he supports the plan in principle — but also recalled the long-stalled plans for a subway line connecting the seriously transit-starved neighborhood of Marine Park to Williamsburg, which DeBlasio was lauding less than a year ago,

“The Brooklyn Queens Connector, like bus rapid transit and the Utica Avenue subway line, is an innovative and laudable project that fits into our shared vision for a better connected borough and city,” said the Beep.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

Reader poll

Is this the streetcar you desire?

Updated 12:30 am, February 8, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
At last - a job for Bob Diamond.
Feb. 5, 2016, 8:18 am
Tom from Red Hook says:
Is this electric? Where does the juice run? Because it looks like the whole thing is planned to run in a flood zone! Laying tracks in a flood zone? The maintenance will be absolutely ruinous!
Feb. 5, 2016, 8:48 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
There are many bus routes with much higher ridership and would benefit from rail. This streetcar is a waste. It doesn't even connect to the subway much. It's slow.

This is the project you get if you ask waterfront real estate developers what is good transit. It's not the project you get if you ask transit experts what is good transit.
Feb. 5, 2016, 9:10 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
An ultimate boondoggle in the works. That $2.4B couldn't be used for improving the city's transportation infrastructure.
Feb. 5, 2016, 9:19 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
That's absolutely true, Mike. A streetcar running up and down Flatbush Avenue or a Brooklyn east/west route (like along Kings Highway, or making use of the existing right-of-way of the freight rail line... like the long discussed X-line subway).

There are some positives to this idea and it would make a nice addition to our transit network, but it should absolutely not be considered at the top of the list.

(Tom from Red Hook -- What are you talking about? Streetcars have overhead wires. If there's a 20-ft high flood, we've got much worse things to worry about than fixing the streetcar power.)
Feb. 5, 2016, 9:39 am
Mike from the Slope says:
As a lifelong New Yorker, I'd love to see this happen. I've traveled to other cities around the world with similar street cars, and they work great. They're bigger than buses and much safer too. It's easy to predict where a street car will go (follow the tracks), so they don't unexpectedly do things that injure or kill pedestrians. The underserved areas along the route (especially Red Hook) will benefit enormously.

In a perfect world, we'd have dozens of streetcar lines around the city replacing tens of thousands of cars. Traffic would improve, as would air quality. Those who are opposed simply haven't thought the thing all the way through or are in the pocket of the auto industry.
Feb. 5, 2016, 9:39 am
Honey Pooter says:
What color will the proposed trolleys be? I suggest purple.
Feb. 5, 2016, 9:51 am
Trollerskates from Moving Target says:
Ferries can service all the areas along the waterfront for next to no cost. Build the damn Utica Ave extension already, and forget this nonsense.
Feb. 5, 2016, 11:22 am
boof from brooklyn says:
@Honey Pooter: and they can run on Trorb power!
Feb. 5, 2016, 11:33 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Slope Mike, it's true that streetcars are bigger than buses. But ridership levels on the buses that serve this route are so low that we don't need "bigger than buses" there. We need it on the Utica or Nostrand corridors that were supposed to be subways long ago. We need "bigger than buses" where the buses are packed!
Feb. 5, 2016, 11:35 am
Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
We need to have details to properly discuss such a mammoth plan. A few things: such a project would take a few cars off the road, thus reducing pollution. Would the system run on clean energy?
(That would have to be defined at the start.)
On the other hand, the trolleys would have to be built on the coast and would therefore be prime targets for flooding. Climate change and rising sea levels are real. Yes, mass transitless neighborhoods like Red Hook would be helped. That's good. Why would the bill be given to taxpayers when developers like Two Trees would have another service handed to them for use by its condo owners who already market Brooklyn Bridge Park to condo buyers as "your front yard." Too often, public-private partnerships benefit private real estate interests excessively.
Feb. 5, 2016, 12:39 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon the suggestion, but I think it would be a great idea if this train were to go up Flatbush Avenue, through the Grand Army Plaza monument and then go ABOVE Prospect Park! I think this would be just spectacular. Oh what a view it would be! Of course this is just one man's opinion.
John Wasserman
Feb. 5, 2016, 1:16 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
And what would be the cost of a new bus line for the same route? Seems like this plan is focused for high end residential housing and development near the water. What a waste of resources, and another reason for landlords and developers to push out the middle class and poor. The mayor is fumbling the ball.
Feb. 5, 2016, 1:17 pm
this is it! from BQX says:
Best plan ever! Holistic!

And MUST connect:

- the Majority, not just the RICH MINORITY
- to existing public transportation
- localized freight movement and interconnect to existing freight infrastructure (less trucks & buses the better)
- bike hook-ups/hangers

Something for everyone!!! This IS it!
Feb. 5, 2016, 1:36 pm
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
You know, it's more of a Shelbyville idea.
Feb. 5, 2016, 3:56 pm
Danny J from Sunset Lark says:
A rail connecting neighborhoods in Brooklyn & Queens is a dumb idea.

People don't go from Brooklyn to Queens. Think about it. When was the last time you said, "hey, lets go to Queens"?
Feb. 5, 2016, 3:58 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
Up goes the rent!!
Feb. 5, 2016, 4:25 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't just find this streetcar idea to be a boondoggle, but I also find it to be unrealistic to even place on the streets considering that most of NYC's streets throughout the boroughs aren't wide enough to support this, plus I don't see how a streetcar moving at 12 MPH really helps with commuting when that's almost no different from taking a bus with that same route.
Feb. 5, 2016, 4:56 pm
Conchita Horney from Porto Rico says:
Hola chikas! It's getting muey caliente suddenly! (Very hot spanish!)
Feb. 5, 2016, 5:51 pm
schaz from GreenPernt says:
Seems like many nay-sayers are commuters who want transit improvements and additions in THEIR areas instead. With that sort of attitude we'll wind up with nothing at all for years. If this works as a prototype in terms of funding it can be copied in others parts of the boros. How would the line be paid for? It would increase the property values along its route, and the increase in property taxes over time would cover the costs to the city. As an example, Mr. de Blasio points to the extension of the No. 7 line to the Far West Side of Manhattan, where it will serve developments over train yards. Of course, this streetcar line would aid and abet the rampage of gentrification. But it would also provide a chance at decent transit for more than 40,000 people who live in the 13 New York City housing projects that were built along the waterfront in the 1940s and ’50s, when the area was an industrial zone that was about to die. AND this new trolley would bring back the Brooklyn Dodgers!!! Well, sort of. Back in the hey-day of trolleys so many trolleys ran through the streets of Brooklyn that the nimble natives who became adept at getting out of their way, the dodgers of Brooklyn, inspired the name of a certain baseball team :-)
Feb. 5, 2016, 6:08 pm
Man from Newkirk Plaza says:
Extend the PATH train to Atlantic Terminal.
Feb. 6, 2016, 1:26 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn Heights says:
While this suggestion might make my personal life easier and add to my personal property values I doubt that has merit for the great majority of Brooklyn and Queens residents. I have spent most of my life in these 2 boroughs. Real Estate interests seem to run the city not the elected mayor and council people. I thought we had a progressive government?
There are neighborhoods all over brooklyn and queens that warrant increased transportation service so that folks that live there can get to work on time and use the wonderful amenities of our city. It is as if those in power have decided to develop a corridor for the rich and pack it with toys to make the lives of those that live within it better while the rest of hard working people are ignored
Feb. 6, 2016, 8:46 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Same as Marsha. It would be convenient for me also, but what a waste of resources.
Feb. 6, 2016, 9:47 am
Ian from Williamsburg says:
The city will get Federal funding for this project and commit resources to the rapidly growing waterfront locations. This would be a great addition to the transit system, so people must not look at this option as mutually exclusive to other projects. The reality is Queens and Brooklyn have been starves for major investments for decades. We need this and other lines so support all the investment.
Feb. 6, 2016, 10 am
Gertie from Greenpoint says:
This will go at 12 mph, as Tai noted. The NY Times article says it will take 25 minutes to go from Greenpoint to Dumbo. I make that trip sometimes. I walk to the Nassau Avenue station and get the G train and take it past Metropolitan, Broadway, Flushing, Marcy, Clinton/Washington, Classon, and Fulton and get off at Hoyt/Schermerhorn.

At Hoyt/Schermerhorn I go across the platform and get the C. I can take it for two stops, past Jay Street/MetroTech/BoroHall to Brooklyn Bridge/High Street and then walk to Dumbo (not an easy walk since it involves going across Cadman Plaza West and under the Brookyn Bridge, but it's not that long). I'm in Dumbo, usually in less than hour.

Or I can transfer from the G to C at Hoyt/Schermerhorn and take the C just one stop to Jay Street/MetroTech/BoroHall and go across the platform and take the F one stop to York Street, and I'm in the middle of Dumbo without doing much walking at all. Again, it can be 40 minutes with good connections, maybe 60-70 minutes with bad connections.

So is it worth it to me to take the streetcar to save half an hour? Maybe. The ride is scenic, I guess. But it will seem slow. The subway is fast, even the G. The wait on platforms can be annoying, but at least you just get trains across the platform at both transfer points.

My bottom line: The subway system works for this Greenpoint/Dumbo trip. I've been doing it for years and am used to it. I think I'd get more impatient on a 12-mph streetcar and even though it might be faster, it might not feel that way.

It might be cheaper just to run vans like the ones on Flatbush Avenue. Or give people vouchers for Uber or taxis. Or bikes for those who can bike (I can't; I have braces on my legs and am 70).

This seems like a tourist attraction, it's cool, unlike uncool buses. But you know, I also have taken the B61 from Greenpoint to downtown Brooklyn and it's not that bad at all.

I already feel I have enough ways to get from Greenpoint to Astoria and Sunset Park, and I live not far from the waterfront. Of course I am retired and may have more times than commuters.

That's just one old lady's opinion. What do I know?
Feb. 6, 2016, 10:54 am
absolutely wonderful from Brooklyn says:
there's nothing better than this proposed in decades

hop on, hop off, hop on again - it would be the ultimate Brooklyn experience making the whole waterfront a hop (or two) apart

a must do!!!!!!!!!!
Feb. 6, 2016, 12:17 pm
deez nuts from Brooklyn says:
—— her right in the ——
Feb. 6, 2016, 12:58 pm
Friend of Andy Cuomo from Dope Slope says:
Bob Diamond has a better shot getting his tours back than this thing getting off the ground.
Feb. 6, 2016, 1:39 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
Tal, I call this a boondoggle because it will benefit the few; not the many who are still living in "transit deserts." BTW, I don't trust the public transportation record that Mayor de Blasio was proposing, from the un-BRT, Select Bus Service network, to the citywide ferry system, to this. By the end of the day, once these projects are implemented, I'm deeply skeptical with the ridership projections, which it could possibly be below projections. As of a result, these projects could be subsidized on the taxpayers' dime in NYC.
Feb. 6, 2016, 4:01 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
This just isnt for us & by "us" i mean regular folks. Its for the yuppies & hipsters, point blank period.
Feb. 6, 2016, 4:16 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
Watch how many people get displaced & thrown out on the street just to build this crap.
Feb. 6, 2016, 4:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
To this who support this, opposing this doesn't mean opposing good transportation for that area. One of the concerns for this is that much of the waterfront for Brooklyn and Queens doesn't have good connections to other forms of transit. Another thing with the fact that it won't move that fast almost makes it no different from using a bus. Also, aren't most of those living by the East River waterfront known for having higher incomes that those that aren't? Who will it really be serving? If the streetcar was that important for NYC, it wouldn't have been stopped as it was about 50 years ago when some of them created problems in the streets making much of NYC get rid of grade level rails. As for those claiming that other cities have light rails or streetcars it's mainly because either their streets are wider to have them or they replaced some earlier form of transit that was using them before. I would rather the see the money that would go for this being used to built the lines of the IND Second System that was never built or even the Triboro RX that never got built either rather than for what could be a failed streetcar system.
Feb. 6, 2016, 5:21 pm
Joe from UES says:
Spending $2.5bn on a streetcar is outrageous. What about Utica Av? What about extending the subway further down Nostrand? What about filling the gaping hole in the transit system down Myrtle Av that was left when the city tore down the old elevated line and cut off Bushwick and Bed-Stuy from Downtown Brooklyn? What about the Triboro RX? What about all the people stuck on buses going barely faster than walking pace because the city won't build enough bus lanes?

If NY already had dealt with these very real needs, I might not be opposed. But building a streetcar in a wealthy neighborhood that largely parallels the G train and doesn't connect properly to the subway is a tremendous waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere in the borough.
Feb. 6, 2016, 7:33 pm
Myrna from everyday train rider from Woodhaven, NY says:
The mayor is looking to please a few people with this trolley plan, what he should be doing is get a greater part of the population where they need to go. These funds would be better invested. He knows he isn't seeing a second term and is trying to make his mark. I'm just trying to get to work on the existing insufficient transportation there is now without being packed in like a sardine. Can someone please play the common sense card. BTW, no offense meant to my Brooklyn brothers and sisters.
Feb. 16, 2016, 2:13 pm

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