DeBlasio: Streetcar may not offer free transfers to subway, bus — or even my own ferry!

Visions of things to come: A rendering imagines a streecar gliding past Industry City in Sunset Park — which in this fantastical future also sports bike lanes and repaved roads.
Brooklyn Paper
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Straphangers may have to pay a second fare when switching from subways and buses to the streetcar Mayor DeBlasio wants to build along Brooklyn’s waterfront for their ride, Hizzoner admitted on Tuesday.

The news contradicts previous claims from those working on the project that it will offer free transfers between services, which the mayor couldn’t guarantee because the city has only just started speaking to the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority about connecting the two.

“We’ve just begun [discussio­ns],” said DeBlasio at a Red Hook press conference touting the benefits of the proposed Sunset Park-to-Queens trolley on Feb. 16. “Our goal is full integration and maximum transfers … we’ve got to work that through with the MTA.”

DeBlasio reiterated previous promises that a ride on the $2.5-billion city-funded streetcar would cost no more than whatever a standard MetroCard swipe does if and when the proposed service launches around 2024, but denied claims made by former traffic commissioner “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz — whose engineering firm worked on the original pitch for the so-called Brooklyn Queens Connector and who has been touting its benefits to media outlets — that commuters will be able to step off a train and onto the tram without paying again.

“We see it as being seamless with the MTA, so we don’t see paying a separate fee,” Schwartz previously told this paper.

Local transit boosters say free transfers and integration between the two systems would be essential for winning residents over to the plan — especially those from low-income areas in Sunset Park and Red Hook, who the mayor insists the streetcar will help.

“Having to pay two fares is unrealistic, even for someone who is wealthy enough to afford a monthly MetroCard,” said Eric McClure, a co-chair of Community Board 6’s transportation committee, which encompasses Red Hook and Cobble Hill, where the trolley will traverse. “It would be critical to its success for it to fully integrate with the MTA system.”

But Red Hook commuters may not have much choice in jumping aboard — the mayor also admitted that the new system could encourage the transit agency to scrap the subway-starved nabe’s sole bus service, the B61 — which currently ferries around 30,000 people along the waterfront every weekday.

“If the MTA ended up with any excess capacity there are sure parts of the outer boroughs that could use a lot more bus services,” he said.

The news is another blow for cash-strapped local commuters who learned last year that the ferry service DeBlasio plans to roll out between Dumbo and Bay Ridge in 2017 will also not offer free transfers or integrate with the transit authority’s system. There are also no guarantees of free transfers between the ferries and streetcar, a rep for the mayor’s office said.

Transportation honchos also fielded questions on the key question of whether the streetcar will tangle with regular traffic or have its own light-rail-style lane with right-of-way, but offered only vague assurances that it would be a mix of both.

“Our goal here is to have streetcars move in traffic, but as much as we can a right-of-way where we’ll be keeping traffic out so we can achieve speeds that are going to make the real travel time savings that we’re talking about,” said transportation department czar Polly Trottenberg.

DeBlasio first announced his support for the Brooklyn Queens Connector earlier this month, jumping on board a proposal created by waterfront developers and businesses, who hope the yuppie-friendly mode of transport will encourage more building and higher property values along the proposed route. Both the mayor and backers claim the system can pay for itself via increased property taxes, though some transit experts have slammed that plan for leaving too much to chance.

A spokesman from the Metropolitan Transit Authority declined to comment on integrating fares, but said it was ready to talk with the city.

“We look forward to learning more about the city’s proposal,” said the authority’s press guru Kevin Ortiz.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with additional context.
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Reasonable discourse

Tony from Greenpoint says:
This sounds like a hugely expensive project to promote/ reinforce the new properties obstructing peoples view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Is this venture realistic?
Feb. 16, 2016, 7:51 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
This streetcar thing just aint gonna happen. Why would someone wanna take something that probably only runs at 15 mph? I wouldnt waste my money on this.
Feb. 16, 2016, 8:04 pm
Henry Ford from Behind the wheel says:
Might as well drive.
Feb. 16, 2016, 9:47 pm
Iona carh from Flatlands says:
Really thought this through mayor willy
Feb. 16, 2016, 9:57 pm
this is it from Brooklyn says:
This is the 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. 17, 2016, 5:14 am
Michael says:
So typical of that ineffective jackass. Promise everything, deliver nothing.
Feb. 17, 2016, 6:54 am
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
The problem in NYC is that the governor and mayor hate one another and never collaborate on anything - including this.

This can be a really good idea but only if there are dedicated lanes thoughout all or most of the route. and if the stops aren't too close together ( as they are for most buses )

There must be transfers to MTA buses and subways.

If these can't be done, kill it now.
Feb. 17, 2016, 10:20 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
This plan is ridiculous. The B37 runs part of that route on 3rd Avenue and is far from full. Alter and extend that line on the planned streetcar route.
Feb. 17, 2016, 10:22 am
Vito B from Bensonhurst says:
I guess Columbia Street is going to lose a lot of parking spaces.
Feb. 17, 2016, 10:25 am
to Vito from the Area says:
Most of the cars parking on Columbia are "overflow" anyway. Loosing cars and parking is not great loss. A city with less cars is only a dream come true.

Columbia will go from a "want a be" to "a be"! Look out Smith St, Columbia will be the new rave!!

At least we'll have a way to get all those folks in and out of Brooklyn Bridge Park*
Feb. 17, 2016, 10:46 am
Lisa from Cobble Hill says:
If it is not a regular MTA fare/transfer, it simply won't work! Here's an idea that can be implemented nearly immediately and at a fraction of the cost: BUSSES!!!
Feb. 17, 2016, 12:21 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
Great: Like I said - A boondoggle in the works. That $2.5B couldn't be used for improving our own transportation infrastructure, with half of it will be used to fund our own public transportation system and the other half will be used to fund our bridges and roads. I am deeply worrying that the projected ridership will not meet their own expectations, which could be resulted for a project to be heavily subsidized by the city's taxpayers' dime.
Feb. 17, 2016, 1 pm
Saskia from Greenpoint says:
Brooklyn is not Westchester. Use public transport, a bike or shoes.

No transfers is sabotage.
Feb. 17, 2016, 1:36 pm
Henry Ford from behind the wheel says:
@saskia: no thanks, I'll keep driving.
Feb. 17, 2016, 3:55 pm
TOM MURPHY from Sunset Park Lower says:
Now everyone wants a piece of Sunset Park and nothing succeeds like Sunset Park's success, or the promise of it.

First, Jamestown announced its billion dollar investment in Industry City on the Sunset Park waterfront and with it the promise of maybe 15,000 new jobs over the next decade. They're already delivering on that promise(see today's NYT Business section for a full-page announcement).

The Pratt Center has proposed not one but two express bus routes from across Brooklyn to this Sunset Park job hub for the unemployed as far away as Kennedy Airport. One will go down the 39th Street truck & bus route, another along 65th Street truck route. Tricky at best, it might require another Robert Moses to gain right-of-way and roadway space.

Now this new proposal will make it possible for the unemployed along the East River waterfront from as far as Astoria to access those same jobs. Of course the slow rate of travel along either mode(an hour-plus) would have to be considered.

I can't think of any locals using this route to work; we have the R train and the B37 bus. Speaking for myself, I think the unemployed of Sunset Park, a number significant enough to be considered first, will fill those jobs just fine and then only have to WALK to work. Sustainable, convenient, free and no pollution.

With such a need to get a pool of unemployed into the Sunset Park job hub why has Citibike been let off the hook in not providing even a promise of service into this shared-transportation vacuum until 2018(and even then)? Their headquarters is in Sunset Park though.

BTW Did these people ask the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative for an opinion. It seems to me the routes are similar but may overlap? Things are difficult enough for them without another obstacle.
Feb. 17, 2016, 4:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
In other words, it would just seem meaningless to build this system if it won't be offering this.
Feb. 17, 2016, 5:19 pm
Jacqui Howard from Williamsburg says:
Mayor Tricky-Licky strikes again!
Feb. 17, 2016, 5:41 pm
Saskia from Greenpoint says:
It's not a boondoggle. The intention is the resulting development would indirectly pay for this. The Triboro Rx, a great idea, doesn't have that kind of potential, or so the thinking goes. This proposal is time sensitive.

Buses aren't as efficient, generally speaking.
Feb. 17, 2016, 6:51 pm
Pamela Sommers from Park Slope says:
Tricky-licky de Blasio doesn't care because he gets chauffeured around in his own personal uber car!
He literally couldn't care less!
Feb. 18, 2016, 2:59 am
Eve from Boro Park says:
I find the name gross, but it suits him. Tricky licky de blazio.
Feb. 18, 2016, 8:16 am
Florence Lesbona says:
Another lick-up. Well done tricky-licky!
Feb. 18, 2016, 9:25 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States says:
Saskia, unfortunately: it only benefits hundreds of New Yorkers and not several millions of New Yorkers who are relying on our own subway and bus system as well as our roads and bridges that are crumbling. If you read "Animal Farms" by George Orwell, then you will clearly understand the situation realistically. BTW, the majority of this proposed route is on a flood plain, a low lying area, prone to flooding and future storm surges and sea level rises, in the long term future.
Feb. 18, 2016, 1:12 pm
b from gp says:
Why are we not financially capable of accomplishing this independent of development, as so many other cities are?

Saki didn't complete the story. The numerous pigs ran out of flowers to eat.
Feb. 18, 2016, 3:03 pm
b from gp says:
Thanks for nothing, tricky licky the blasio
Feb. 18, 2016, 5:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Saskia, there is a big difference between this streetcar idea and the Triboro Rx. At least the Triboro Rx would not just include free transfers to existing subway lines it would be crossing, it would also serve areas of the boroughs that are barley served by mass transit. Another thing is that the money to be spent on this BQX route could have been better spent for helping with the SAS, which is very much behind schedule and would help the UES in a big way by relieving it of the 6 train, the only local stop on the LAL not to mention help those who have to be somewhere further east of 2nd Avenue.
Feb. 18, 2016, 5:08 pm
Phyllis Olsen from Bay Ridge says:
This trolley is a big waste of money. Why not buy energy efficient buses? Plus those tracks would make it difficult, if not impossible, to pave the streets. Just look at the terrible condition of 2nd avenue between 39th and 40th streets in Brooklyn. That street has tracks and has not been paved in decades.
Feb. 19, 2016, 10:31 am
Esther Sze from Sunset Park says:
Worst Mayor in our lifetime-- bigger cretin even than the corrupt Rudy and corrupting Bloomturd because at least you KNEW where they were coming from...
Feb. 20, 2016, 1:28 am

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