Governor Hochul Announces Completion of Study for the Interborough Express Connecting Brooklyn and Queens. Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Next Steps Include Community Outreach across Brooklyn and Queens and the Environmental Review Process as Directed by Governor in 2022 State of the State
View Complete Feasibility Study Here
Project Would Serve 80,000 Daily Riders and Connect to Up to 17 Subway Lines and the Long Island Rail Road
Travel Time End-to-End Expected to be Less Than 40 Minutes
Governor Kathy Hochul and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber today unveiled the results of a yearlong study assessing feasibility of the Interborough Express, the transformative transit project which would connect communities in Brooklyn and Queens to as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road, and significantly reduce travel times within and between the two boroughs.
“Infrastructure is all about connection, and with the Interborough Express we can connect people to their family and friends while also improving their quality of life,” Governor Hochul said. “The Interborough Express will connect Brooklyn and Queens, not only shaving time off commutes but also making it easier to connect to subway lines across the route. With the completion of the feasibility study, we can move forward to the next phase of this project and bring us one step closer to making the Interborough Express a reality for New Yorkers.”
The feasibility study’s results indicate that it is indeed 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.
As announced in Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State, the MTA’s next step is to conduct required state and federal environmental review processes, which will also include public engagement to gather input from communities, elected officials, and other key stakeholders to further the process of determining the most appropriate mode of transit.
The Interborough Express would use the existing right-of-way of the Bay Ridge Branch, which is a freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens, connecting ethnically and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The project would include several new connections in neighborhoods that currently lack efficient connections to each other, and in some cases, to Manhattan.
According to the study, up to seven out of ten people served will be from communities of color, approximately one-half will come from households with no cars, and approximately one-third will be living in households at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Line.
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “MTA riders deserve a reliable and wide-reaching transit system that promotes equity, and this study proves The Interborough Express will provide better access to jobs, education and economic opportunities for some 80,000 New Yorkers in Queens and Brooklyn. I want to thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on this exciting project and look forward to working with local communities to get work underway.”
The project could provide potential connections to up to 17 subway lines, (2,3,5,7,A,B,C,D,E,F,J,L,M,N,Q,R,Z) serving areas of Brooklyn and Queens while initial studies indicate up to 80,000 daily weekday riders with annual ridership of approximately 2.5 million. Travel times between Brooklyn and Queens could be reduced by up to 30 minutes each way, depending on travel distance.
Proposed service would operate at up to five-minute headways during the peak periods, with off-peak headways of up to 10 minutes at other times of the day. The number and location of stations along the 14-mile corridor will be determined as part of the forthcoming environmental, planning, and engineering studies. Additionally, transportation planners believe the new service would work in concert with the Cross-Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel project, which is why Governor Hochul directed the Port Authority to complete the environmental review for the freight tunnel as she mentioned in her State of the State address. Increasing rail service and reducing truck traffic could have a significant impact on the region.
Determining fares will be the responsibility of the MTA Board at time of implementation; they are expected to be equivalent to standard subway fares.
The Interborough Express could take many different forms depending on factors such as operating mode, service frequency, station locations and relationship with existing freight tracks. The total project cost will be determined as part of the forthcoming environmental review and design process.
“Infrastructure is all about connection, and with the Interborough Express we can connect people to their family and friends while also improving their quality of life. “Governor Hochul
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “The Interborough Express would be a game changer for the many Brooklyn and Queens residents who lack sufficient access to public transit. This project has the potential to reduce travel times for up to 80,000 New Yorkers each day while also cutting down on traffic congestion and pollution. The MTA is the engine that moves New York City and I’ll keep fighting to make sure it gets the federal funds it needs to provide reliable, safe, and efficient transportation to every New Yorker.”
Representative Jerry Nadler said, “The Interborough Express is an important project that has the potential to expand transit access to underserved neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. This project can and should co-exist with the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel project which would finally connect the New York metropolitan region to the national freight rail grid by removing trucks from our streets and diverting them to the underutilized rail network. Together, these projects will improve transportation equity and reduce carbon emissions. I am pleased that these projects will be able to take advantage of new federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I want to thank our Governor, Kathy Hochul, who has become a strong supporter for both projects. I look forward to working with her as these projects move forward to improve transit options for all New Yorkers.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “The Interborough Express is a creative proposal and a critical step towards our shared goal of providing greater connectivity for New Yorkers living in transit deserts as well as much-needed economic development. By building efficiently on existing infrastructure, we can provide commuting options for hundreds of thousands of potential riders from Middle Village and Midwood and from to Brownsville and Bushwick. I applaud Governor Hochul and am excited to work together on this initiative to move Brooklyn and Queens forward.”
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said, “I want to thank Governor Hochul for reviving this idea, which has the potential to provide much-needed connections to our borough’s transit deserts and can help decrease reliance on cars. I am particularly excited about its potential to connect residents to new educational and job opportunities that may have been inaccessible before. I look forward to working with the Governor and her team to ensure that the implementation is equitable and includes communities in the planning process.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said, “The vitality of any urban community, especially those as large and diverse as Queens and Brooklyn, depends heavily on the reliability of its public transportation system. But for far too many families in both boroughs, and the communities they call home, the inability to travel between Queens and Brooklyn in a quick, efficient manner has been an unnecessary detriment to their economic well-being. I applaud Governor Hochul for her determined focus on Brooklyn-Queens connectivity and I look forward to her partnership as we connect thousands of Queens and Brooklyn families to new employment opportunities in each borough, while dramatically cutting commute times in the process.”
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo said, “I appreciate Governor Hochul’s vision and intention to improve the public transportation system here in Queens, which has the potential to benefit thousands of New Yorkers. The Interborough Express is a bold endeavor and I look forward to seeing the results of the environmental review process, in addition to working with the Governor’s Administration on identifying and addressing the issues that our residents who will be living in proximity to this future route may have.”
Senator Andrew Gounardes said, “The Interborough Express is a game changer for Southern Brooklyn, and all the Brooklyn and Queens communities that have historically lacked reliable transit. It has the power to unlock economic and cultural opportunities all the way from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights, and stands to have a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of New York City residents. Ensuring New Yorkers can support local businesses, grow their careers, and invest in their communities will be key to our city’s recovery, and I’m eager to continue working with Governor Hochul and the MTA to make this a reality.”
Senator Kevin Parker said, “For too long, our working-class communities in Brooklyn and Queens have been underserved and overlooked by an outdated subway map created in a different era for a different city. The Governor’s proposed Interborough Express expansion of the current subway system is forward thinking, and the type of bold investment needed to make the American dream more attainable and New York City more equitable.”
Senator Roxanne Persaud said, “I commend Governor Hochul on this bold initiative. This Interborough Express is needed particularly for communities that are transit deserts. It will decrease travel times and allow for more flexibility in travel plans. I am looking forward to its completion and more transit options.”
Senator Julia Salazar said, “The Interborough Express is going to positively change the way our communities in Brooklyn and Queens commute and engage with the rest of the city. The Governor’s plan is a response to some of the serious needs and concerns of New Yorkers who rely on public transit every day. I am looking forward to seeing the plan progress and become a reality in our neighborhoods.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said, “The Interborough Express promises to expand opportunities for residents of Flatbush and eases the difficulties of commuting between boroughs. We no longer live in a Manhattan-centric city, and I am grateful for this huge infrastructure project which will service our district, and many others, which have long been transportation deserts. Every city should look to NYC as an example.”
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, “The Interborough Express presents a unique opportunity to increase mass transit and tackle the lasting environmental impacts of congestion. As the feasibility study shows, most of the communities that will benefit from it are working class and poor New Yorkers of color. I am committed to working with Governor Hochul and her administration, as well as the MTA, to ensure their voices are heard throughout the process. I thank the Governor for her interest and look forward to the results of the environmental study she has also commissioned.”
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas said, “I applaud the Governor’s leadership on the Interborough Express project and think it is one way that we can begin to build back better by centering racial equity as we seek to improve our systems, including our transit system. The reality is that there continue to be so many transit desserts in New York City, and they only disconnect communities of color from each other. I’m particularly excited that residents of Jackson Heights look to benefit from this. It’s my hope the federal review process will allow us to move forward into the future of transit in our city where we can work to better connect our boroughs and communities.”
Assemblymember Helene Weinstein said, “On behalf of thousands of my constituents who have been under-served by public transportation, I am thrilled by the proposed plan for an Interborough Express Line,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. “This crucial route will bring new and faster opportunities to commuters and increase accessibility between Queens and Brooklyn. I laud Governor Hochul for her steadfast dedication to bringing residents City-Wide closer than ever.”
Assemblymember Jaime Williams said, “The Governor and the MTA’s initiative of the Interborough Express are to be lauded. The efficiency put forth by the Interborough Express Project will allow for a smoother travel process and allow for the creation of numerous jobs, aspects sorely needed at this time. True achievements that Governor Hochul the MTA are accomplishing.” NYS Assembly Member Jaime Williams 59th AD.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said, “New York City is ready for bold and transformative infrastructure projects that will connect neighborhoods across Brooklyn and Queens. The Interborough Express has the potential to impact the lives of nearly 900,000 residents and 260,000 workers who would benefit from additional mass transit options. Now more than ever, we need to invest in projects that will generate jobs, boost our local economy, and support our small businesses. I thank Governor Hochul for her leadership and vision, and I look forward to seeing the Interborough Express come to fruition.”
New York City Council Member Robert Holden said, “I’m greatly encouraged to see Governor Hochul revisiting this plan and I thank her for thinking about Queens. We are a unique borough, with the most diverse people and the most diverse needs. One of those needs is better public transportation. We have a public transit desert in my district and this project could help a lot of people get around and reduce commute times. We need a thorough study to investigate every aspect of how this project would affect every aspect of our neighborhoods and I look forward to working with Governor Hochul and everyone involved.”
New York City Council Member Shekar Krishnan said, “My district, covering Elmhurst and Jackson Heights in Queens, has been the beating heart of the city during this pandemic, sending deliveristas, healthcare workers, and teachers by bike, bus, and subway car throughout the city. That’s why I’m so excited that the Interborough Express will be anchored in our community, to provide even more rapid, reliable transportation to the people of Queens and Brooklyn.”
President of the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council and President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York Gary LaBarbera said, “This is an important first step towards embarking on a thoughtful and effective infrastructure plan that will not only enhance connections between communities, but create thousands of middle-class careers with benefits in the process. The Interborough Express will be a key element of New York’s transportation infrastructure for years to come, and we applaud Governor Hochul for her vision, leadership and commitment to moving this transformative project forward.”
Executive Vice President for Regional Plan Association Kate Slevin said, “Regional Plan Association is thrilled that Governor Hochul and the MTA have completed their initial study of the Interborough Express, which builds off RPA’s Triboro plan first proposed in 1996. The Interborough Express is a crucial project for advancing New York’s transportation equity, economic development, and climate goals, as the route will connect many of the city’s car-dependent transit deserts with 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road. By completing the first direct transit connection between Brooklyn and Queens in generations, the Interborough Express is a monumental step forward in moving away from our Manhattan-centric transit system toward a more comprehensive model that will benefit all residents. Throughout public and private meetings with elected officials, community, and business organizations over the past five years, we have seen tremendous support for this project.”
President and CEO of the New York Building Congress Carlo A. Scissura said, “A modern New York City deserves mass transit options that reflect how people get around in the 21st Century. This MTA feasibility study will be the first step in better connecting Brooklyn and Queens, which together are home to more than half of New York City’s residents and represent the future of the Big Apple’s economy. The New York Building Congress applauds and thanks Governor Hochul and the MTA, under the leadership of Janno Lieber, for prioritizing transformative, bold infrastructure projects like the Interborough Express.”
Riders Alliance Lead Organizer Mayra Aldás-Deckert said, “The Interborough Express is a big, bold step toward transit equity for millions of riders in Brooklyn and Queens. Governor Hochul’s visionary proposal represents the most significant expansion of New York’s transit system since World War II. By leveraging old infrastructure and offering new options to people in dozens of dense city neighborhoods, the Interborough Express will greatly enhance access to work, education, healthcare and other essential opportunities.”
Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives Danny Harris said, “To fight the climate crisis and connect communities to greater economic opportunity, New York must invest in sustainable transportation options. The Interborough Express is an example of the bold investments needed to make New York City a more equitable and resilient city. We look forward to working with Governor Hochul and leaders here in the City to continue providing New Yorkers with options that shift trips from cars to healthier, more efficient, and greener ways to move around.”
Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Renae Reynolds said, “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. The city and state are both working hard to expand access in transit deserts, which is mission critical for ensuring a more equitable transportation network. We look forward to seeing how the Interborough Express will integrate with the commuter rail and freight network, especially with the MTA’s Penn Station Access project and Port Authority’s Cross Harbor Freight Project. Together, these projects could be a game-changer for regional accessibility, curbing emissions from cars and trucks, and reducing congestion on our crowded streets.”