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City Releases More Details of Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Plan

By Nikhita Venugopal | April 25, 2016 11:27am | Updated on April 25, 2016 1:12pm
 A rendering of the proposed streetcar that would run between Brooklyn and Queens.
A rendering of the proposed streetcar that would run between Brooklyn and Queens.
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Courtesy Office of the Mayor

NEW YORK CITY — Two months after Mayor Bill de Blasio first endorsed a plan to build a streetcar connecting waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, the city has released its early assessment of the $2.5 billion system, Politico New York first reported.

The 16-mile streetcar route, which will travel from Astoria to Sunset Park, was announced in February during the mayor's State of the City speech. The BQX would connect neighborhoods such as Long Island City, DUMBO and Red Hook, though the city has yet to share an exact route. 

The city's 37-page "rapid assessment" released to Politico on Friday evaluates an earlier study from the Friends of the BQX, a nonprofit that proposed the streetcar's development along the East River corridor. That earlier report has not yet been released to the public. 

 A proposed map of the streetcar route that was developed by Friends of the BQX. This city has not committed to following this specific route.
A proposed map of the streetcar route that was developed by Friends of the BQX. This city has not committed to following this specific route.
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Brooklyn-Queens Connector Rapid Assessment Report

The city's new multi-agency review of the study, shared with DNAinfo Monday, concludes that the proposed operating costs, ridership forecasts and potential to "'self-finance’ through value capture" are all "reasonable."

The initial study posited that the BQX's fare would include a free transfer to subways, buses and ferries, but none of that has yet been negotiated with the MTA or the ferry operators.

The new assessment of the 2015 report reveals that annual operating and maintenance costs for a 24-hour streetcar project were estimated at $26 million in the nonprofit's 2015 study, but the new report raises those annual costs to $31.5 million and assumes $26 million in annual fare revenues. When compared to other streetcar and light rail systems throughout the country, the city found that the BQX is in the "low end" of the cost per track and cost per vehicle range. It added that more analysis was needed.

Though it's possible that the streetcar's construction could eliminate hundreds of parking spots and local bus routes through transit-starved neighborhoods, the city's review of the plan concludes that "a streetcar/Light Rail hybrid is the most appropriate transit intervention along this corridor." 

The Friends of the BQX study projected annual ridership of between 27,500 and 29,000 in 2020 and between 49,400 and 52,000 in 2035. 

The city has previously said it estimates that the streetcar would serve almost 50,000 passengers per day.

According to Politico, the study projects that less than 200 residents from Red Hook would use the BQX to commute to DUMBO, and only about 51 locals would ride from Astoria to DUMBO. 

The city's Economic Development Corporation and Department of Transportation will kick off a series of neighborhood community meetings next month to discuss details of the project, the Mayor's Office said Monday.

The first will take place in Astoria on May 9 at the Variety Boys and Girls Club, located at 21-12 30th Road from 6 to 8 p.m. Other meetings in Queens and Brooklyn, including Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Long Island City and Williamsburg, will be announced over the next three months, EDC spokesman Anthony Hogrebe said Monday. 

See the full report below. 

Brooklyn-Queens Connector Rapid Assessment