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City Hires Scandal-Plagued Ex-Toronto Transit Head to Lead Streetcar Plan

By Nikhita Venugopal | July 18, 2016 1:45pm | Updated on July 18, 2016 2:33pm
 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 — A scandal-scarred former Canadian politician will oversee New York City's efforts to build a streetcar system connecting waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, officials said.

Adam Giambrone, who previously served as the head of Toronto's transit system, will help turn Mayor Bill de Blasio's $2.5 billion waterfront transit proposal into a reality, city hall spokesman Austin Finan confirmed Monday.

In 2010, then 32-year-old Giambrone's campaign for mayor of Toronto came to a crashing halt after he admitted to having multiple affairs, according to the Toronto Star. The New York Post has already dubbed him the "Canadian Anthony Weiner."

According to the Star, Giambrone sent a text message to a college student, with whom he was having an affair, saying that he was only with his longtime partner and now wife Sarah McQuarrie for "political" reasons.

The New York City spokesman appeared to refer to that scandal in his City Hall's statement: “When it comes to who will deliver on the city’s next great transportation project, we’re confident New Yorkers are more concerned with qualifications than years old text messages and past personal matters."

"Mr. Giambrone is a respected industry expert with extensive experience planning and launching new streetcar lines, including overseeing North America’s largest streetcar system. We’re excited to have him join the team.”

His first task as director of the BQX, as the streetcar system is known, will be to persuade neighborhood residents from Astoria to Sunset Park, who live along the proposed route, that this is a good idea.

READ ALSO: Here's What We Know About the Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Plan

“At these early meetings,” Giambrone told New York Magazine, which first reported the hire, “you're out there asking people what they want, and it can be frustrating because they have questions, too, and you don't have all the answers. But that’s how you begin to build trust.”

In May, the nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector hired transit expert Ya-Ting Liu as the executive director of its group. The nonprofit group was created in 2014 and commissioned the report that formed the foundation of the city's plan for the BQX.

The 16-mile route would cost riders $2.75 per trip, though the mayor has not definitively said whether the fare will include free transfers to subways, buses and ferries. Service is scheduled to start in 2024.