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Six out of 10 Travelers Would Use AirTrain to LaGuardia: Survey

AirTrain LGA (A New LGA)

Nov. 8, 2019 By Allie Griffin

Six out of 10 people who recently commuted to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) said they would have used the AirTrain LGA to get there if it had already been built, according to a survey.

The online survey of 409 recent commuters to LaGuardia Airport found that there was even greater interest, 74 percent, in the AirTrain among commuters coming from Midtown and other areas in Manhattan.

The AirTrain, which the Port Authority aims to start constructing next year, will go from the airport to Willets Point. Commuters will be able get to Willets Point via the 7 Train and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

A majority of LGA employees also hope to see the 1.5-mile AirTrain come to fruition, the survey released by the advocacy group A Better Way to LGA revealed. About 64 percent of airport workers who responded to the October survey said they would have used the AirTrain to get to and from work if it were in operation.

Proposed AirTrain LGA Map (A Better Way to LGA)

“These findings make clear what we in Queens have been saying for some time: an AirTrain at LaGuardia Airport will benefit travelers and our environment,” said Thomas Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of A Better Way to LGA. “The high numbers for demand for AirTrain will increase even further as the project comes to fruition.”

Most travelers get to LaGuardia Airport by car, with 70 percent of respondents reporting that they got there by personal car, Uber or another car service.

Furthermore, nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of respondents described their travel to or from LGA as “frustrating.” Of those, 37 percent described it as “very frustrating.”

The Port Authority estimates that a trip on the AirTrain from Midtown to LGA would take approximately 30 minutes, significantly faster than by car.

Commuters could take the 7 train or LIRR from either Grand Central Station or Penn Station then transfer to the AirTrain at Willets Point Station.

LaGuardia Airport is the only major airport on the East Coast without a rail connection. The Port Authority estimates that AirTrain would carry approximately 6.6 to 10 million riders per year by 2025.

The Port Authority aims to complete the AirTrain by 2022.

Despite the survey findings, many have criticized the AirTrain and its projected cost, which has swelled to $2 billion from its original $450 million price tag.

The results from a series of public forums on the AirTrain proposal revealed that many oppose it. The Federal Aviation Administration reported that 255 area residents gave feedback from May through June 2019 in opposition to the AirTrain for a variety of reasons, while just 55 supported it.

Many said that the 7 subway line is already overcrowded and can’t support additional riders, particularly those with luggage. More than 100 commenters suggested extending the N, W subway line as an alternative.

Critics also expressed concern that construction of the AirTrain would disrupt residential neighborhoods with constant noise and vibration from machines and that the railway would cut off the community from green space like Flushing Bay, the Flushing Bay Promenade and the World’s Fair Marina.

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15 Comments

Phil

Living in Bay ridge area in Brooklyn, all three airports are the same distance for me, if I took a helicopter, car or walk. To get to any of these airports it takes over an hour, and taxi is always above 50$….
So instead of making our trips shorter it would make my trip longer, so I am not even considering this option for my future travels.
They could also build Airtrain to Astoria with connection to N/W trains instead of extending N/W, I think it would be more noise friendly, easier to build and nobody would lose a dime

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Josef

The officials should look into a much better project that will serve us and future generations well.The best way it will be as a solution to connect Jamaica Air train station with Willets Point and LaGuardia.Any where in the world in main cities the airports are conected at least with bus shuttles so why NYC not with Air trains?! I am reading from some coments about the Airtrain noise.These days for example in main Hubs in Europe you have Air trains that are passing by and you can’t even hear them most of the time.

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Needle

I’ve taken the Airtrain to JFK many times. It’s fast, cheap and quiet. LGA presents a more geographic challenge because it’s situation in a densely populated residential area. We already have the SBS M60 bus that works well. Connecting LGA with pre-existing LIRR tracks at Willet’s point is probably the cheapest and fastest way to get it up and running. Whatever Airtrain track would be built will be over a much shorter distance. It would be literally a 5-minute ride to the airport.

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Anonymous

The JFK air tram links to Jamaica Station which is a main hub for LIRR with multiple lines giving access to brooklyn, queens, NYC, and most of the island. Willets Point has one line of the LIRR that runs along northern Long Island. While better then nothing it’s a small improvement at a big cost. If they could link the two lines together that would make it more useful. Even better would be to run the new air tram north/west along the tri borough bridge ($$$$$) and link it to the metro north 125st. station giving access to those north of the Bronx.

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Tom R

Most large European and Asian cities have a “one seat” solution to getting into the city. In other words you get on a train/light rail/subway (and occasionally limited stop bus) and you’ll be taken directly into the heart of the city… Quickly. None of this messing around connecting, lugging bags up and down stairs and on and off trains.

In an ideal world there should be a direct train to all 3 metro airports, EWR is about as close as you get to this solution. At LGA this could at least be solved by extending the N/W, you can literally see the terminal buildings from the end of the line at Ditmars! They could extend to Flushing too to link back up with the 7.

Going the opposite way to Manhattan to the nearly the end of the (already overcrowded) 7 to them come alllll the way back west seems illogical for anyone going to Manhattan, Western Queens or heaven forbid you have to go via transport from Brooklyn to Willets point, good luck with that!

As for a bus route/loop, you already have the SBS services, they aren’t exactly efficient and just get caught in traffic & add to road congestion.

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Mr. Galikanokus

I can understand why they didn’t extend the N/W to go through Astoria, but what I’m really curious about is why they didn’t put the new AirTrain station at Astoria Blvd and have the line zip over the GCP (much like the JFK AirTrain zips over the Van Wyck Parking Lot). That seems like it’d be more ideal than putting the station at Mets/Willets Point.

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Anonymous

I think the extension of the N/W line was by far the best option. It would have only extended the tracks 2 blocks on 31 Street and then it would have run over Con Ed and back areas without houses to LGA.

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Needle

There is an LIRR stop at Willet’s Point that seems to run only during the US Open. It would make sense to have that express from Penn to Willet’s Point where travelers could connect with an Airtrain or tram to LGA. The fare/tickets would be paid for at Penn Station. That would be the quickest, least disruptive, least costly solution. Extending the N/W line is too disruptive for a residential area, as well as being too costly. The N/W lines are already overcrowded so even building a track over the GCP would not be a good solution. Building it would be costly and take too much time; you can’t shut down that section of the GCP to build an overhead track.

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Astoria Resident

A taxi/Uber costs just $15 from Astoria directly to LGA and every time for me has been no more than 15 minutes. This is purely for people going to and from Manhattan or Long Island. Just by looking at the map, I think it would be ideal to have shuttle buses running in a loop on Grand Central Parkway between Astoria blvd subway station and Willets Point. That way they can get people from western and eastern Queens covered and it’s also convenient for people coming from Midtown on either the N/W or 7 (to split the traffic). Since no new infrastructure is built, they can probably price the shuttles at under $5.

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your_neighbor

There is already the M60 bus that starts on the upper west side of Manhattan, travels through Harlem, across the Triboro Bridge then stops at Astoria Blvd & 31 St; Astoria Blvd & Steinway and Astoria Blvd and 77th Street before stopping at ALL of the terminals at LaGuardia.

Runs every 6 to 10 minutes from 5am to after midnight and runs every 20-30 minutes from 1am to 4-5am.

Great fast trip, rarely crowded and only a regular $2.75 fare with free transfers if you want to start your trip on the subway and catch the bus somewhere along the route.

I have taken that bus many times and it is seems like it is a little secret of many of the people who work at the airport.

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DB

This city does a great job of creating a few great things like SBS but then choosing to limit it or promote it terribly. It could be a lot better but agreed with you – it is a smooth ride that’s on time and is rarely overcrowded (outside of a small window during rush hour from Manhattan to LGA). I would love to see more buses in the city follow the SBS format.

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Q70 Express Bus

Actually the Q70 is better. It’s a dedicated express bus to LaGuardia. There are two stops in Queens – 74th Avenue Jackson Heights (E,F,M,R or 7 trains) or Roosevelt Avenue Woodside (7 train or LIRR), then it goes directly to LaGuardia. M60 includes LaGuardia, among other stops. It isn’t a dedicated express bus to the airport.

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DB

The Q19 bus covers most of what you’re looking for. The bus runs from Hallet’s Cove all the way to Flushing along Astoria Blvd but like many other buses in the city it isn’t very fast. I’d like to see more dedicated bus lanes to help with the congestion, especially as it gets closer to Flushing.

There is also the M60 SBS from Manhattan to LGA which has a stop right at the Astoria Blvd subway stop. It goes from near Columbia University through Harlem over the Triboro to LGA. I’ve taken it many times from Astoria-Manhattan and outside of one or two areas with congestion in Harlem, it was a very smooth ride and the rear door boarding / off bus ticket purchase makes it a much quicker process.

I would advocate expanding the M60 because it is usually full going from Manhattan to Astoria because of LGA (and everyone has suitcases). I would also take a lot of these SBS options and add them to the Q19 (or make an SBS option) especially if the plan is to have an AirTrain to LGA from Willets Point.

To be perfectly honest though, the bus service should suffice and they don’t have to create an AirTrain. But if they do that, then they must improve the current standards by creating fast service through dedicated bus lanes (which would help more people than just the people going to the airport) as well as rear door boarding / off bus ticket purchasing. The Q48 is the current alternative for the AirTrain from Willets Point so that should be the priority. The MTA could save millions and improve service for loads of NYers. Win-win.

Here’s a pretty detailed map of all the buses that go to LGA/JFK: http://web.mta.info/nyct/service/pdf/laguardia-November-2017.jpg

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John

It is a bus! It gets stuck in traffic. I take that bus all the time. It is always crowed. Try to get on with luggage for a Friday evening flight.

I DO NOT WANT A BUS.
I WANT A TRAIN, like a normal big city.

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