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Brooklyn and Queens may be linked by a new train line

The Inter-Borough Express would have an end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

One of the most frustrating things in NYC has been how long it takes to travel between its outer boroughs. Between highways and subway lines oriented toward Manhattan, so many of NYC's neighborhoods have become transit deserts, leaving 900,000 residents with super long commutes.

New Yorkers are over it.

In her State of the State Address, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state will create an Inter-Borough Express, a new rail service that connects Brooklyn and Queens via old and unused freight tracks spanning 14 miles between Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Jackson Heights, Queens.

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The unused train tracks run through Astoria, Jackson Heights, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst, Bushwick, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge according to Gothamist.

"We need to reconnect neighborhoods that were severed by asphalt highways, disproportionately impacting communities of color," she said.

The MTA completed a feasibility study that shows that it is physically feasible to accommodate passenger traffic alongside the existing freight rail traffic, that there is significant demand, and that Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail, and conventional Heavy Rail are all options in terms of the possible modes of transit. The MTA’s next step is to conduct required state and federal environmental reviews, which includes gathering input from the affected communities, elected officials and other key stakeholders.

Once complete, the Inter-Borough Express would provide end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, serve some 74,000 to 88,000 weekday riders (attracting more than 2 million new annual trips to public transit), connect residents and workers to the LIRR and up to 17 subway lines, significantly expanding access to jobs and services across the metro area, providing new service where 71% of residents are minorities and 33% are below 1.5 times the federal poverty line.

Interborough Express map
Photograph: courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul's office

"Stronger rapid transit in Brooklyn and Queens is long overdue," Hochul says in her State of the State plan. "Both boroughs have exploded with residents in recent years, and these communities rely heavily on public transportation, with 57% of households in Brooklyn and 36% in Queens not owning cars. For hundreds of thousands of people in the Interborough Express right-of-way, crossing from neighborhood to neighborhood is slow and tedious because existing subway lines are oriented toward Manhattan. Yet many new work opportunities, schools, and services are within the outer boroughs themselves."

The best part is that because the rail lines already exist, the project will be completed much faster than if it were starting from scratch. 

"We applaud Governor Hochul’s announcement to bring new transit options to Brooklyn and Queens, particularly as the city is experiencing worsening traffic congestion and the effects of climate change," says Renae Reynolds, the executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "This project will bring high-quality transit to more neighborhoods–including some that are currently transit deserts–and better connect almost a million residents in Brooklyn and Queens with new jobs and opportunities throughout the city."

The governor's office released renderings of what the Interborough Express will look like:

Interborough Express
Photograph: courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul's office
Interborough Express
Photograph: courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul's office

Needless to say, New Yorkers are excited about it because it'll make getting to work, visiting friends and family and exploring other neighborhoods so much easier.

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