Nov. 13, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez
A prototype of a BQX car was unveiled today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab technology space in a bid to bring the 14-mile Brooklyn-Queens connector closer to reality.
The prototype shows the car that would carry passengers through the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) a light-rail route along the waterfronts of the two boroughs, with end points at Astoria and Sunset Park.
The prototype, made up of two cars, one of them the driver’s cab, measures 46 feet in length and 8.7 feet across. The inside shows red seats, rails to lean on, and a sleek banner showing the route’s stops. The car’s higher capacity, street-level boarding for people with mobility challenges, and open-gangways were touted by Friends of the BQX, the non-profit in support of the project, as features that make the BQX “the optimal transit mode for this corridor”.
“Today we’re providing New Yorkers with their first real taste of what the BQX would look and feel like, and calling on the city to bring light rail service to areas long underserved by reliable mass transit,” said Ya-Ting Liu, Executive Director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, in a statement.
The Friends of the BQX and other advocates called on de Blasio to put the project at the forefront of his new term as mayor.
The BQX, first introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in February 2016, is still in its early stages of planning, and currently undergoing a feasibility study that checks out the best routes and financing model for the project.
Proponents of the BQX say the street-car will provide relief to a congested transit system and provide a service to a waterfront increasingly growing in population, and bring business interests to areas along the corridor. Some city officials and community leaders say the rail will also provide a much-needed transportation option to neighborhoods lacking in them, including Red Hook and Astoria.
Skeptics, however, say that the project is unwieldy and only serves the real estate interests along the corridor. The light-rail, according to some, fails to provide a solution to transit issues in an area that is already served by multiple train and bus lines. Environmental concerns, especially concerning floods, are also raised with the BQX.
The prototype, manufactured by Alstom, a French company, was on display in Nice, France, before it made its way to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The project, currently estimated at a cost of $2.5 billion, is projected to serve more than 400,000 people living along the 30-stop route, and 300,000 who work along it. Around 50,000 riders are expected to ride the BQX, which will run 24 hours a day and at the same price set by the MTA to ride the train and bus.
The Friends of the BQX estimate that the light rail can be up and running as soon as 2024, and in an October event, de Blasio announced that the BQX would likely break ground in 2020.