Gov. Kathy Hochul has told the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to find an alternative to disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $2.1 billion “AirTrain” pet project between LaGuardia Airport and eastern Queens.
“I have asked the Port Authority to thoroughly examine alternative mass transit solutions for reducing car traffic and increasing connectivity to LaGuardia Airport,” Hochul said in a statement Monday afternoon — hours before elected officials representing the impacted section of Queens were set to hold a press conference against the boondoggle.
“We must ensure that our transportation projects are bold, visionary, and serve the needs of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “I remain committed to working expeditiously to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century and to create jobs — not just at LaGuardia, but at all of our airports and transit hubs across New York.”
The AirTrain was a top priority of Cuomo, who pushed the project through despite opposition from some transit advocates and even officials at the Port Authority, the bi-state agency that oversees the regional airports and would have built and operated it.
Critics including US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questioned the logic of the route, which would require Manhattan-bound riders to first travel east — away from the island — before connecting to the subway at Willets Point and heading back west. They said it’s faster to take a cab or bus to Midtown and the cost doesn’t justify the number of riders who would use it.
In the last week alone, the AirTrain picked up newfound skeptics and opponents including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and two of the borough’s most powerful state senators, Leroy Comrie and Mike Gianaris.
Hochul had previously said she was in conversation with Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton about the future of the project.
The project and its questionable route would attract just 6,000 new daily transit riders, government watchdog Reinvent Albany and former city DOT official Jon Orcutt found in a report released last month.
That comes out to a whopping $350,000 per rider, the report said — the most expensive project per rider in history.
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