Plans announced to progress development of New York’s Interborough Express

Posted: 6 January 2022 | | No comments yet

The proposed route for the transformative Interborough Express would see communities in Brooklyn and Queens connected to as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

MTA Interborough Express

Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority – A map displaying the proposed Interborough Express rapid transit route.

The Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, has announced plans to move forward with a transformative new transit line, the Interborough Express, as part of her 2022 State of the State.

Governor Hochul is directing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to immediately begin the environmental review process for this transformative project, which is the first step in building this major infrastructure investment that would connect communities in Brooklyn and Queens to as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).  

“It’s time to invest in the bold, cutting-edge infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “New Yorkers deserve reliable public transit that connects them from work to home and everywhere in between. The Interborough Express would be a transformational addition to Brooklyn and Queens, cutting down on travel time and helping neighborhoods and communities become cleaner, greener and more equitable.”  

“This project would smartly repurpose existing infrastructure to add mass transit and create access to jobs, education and opportunity for so many residents of Queens and Brooklyn,” said MTA‘s Acting Chair and CEO, Janno Lieber. “I applaud Governor Hochul’s leadership, and we are enthusiastic to work with her, and Federal and State partners to advance the Interborough concept.”   

This historic project 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 the ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights with several new stations in communities not currently served by rail transit.   

If adopted, this new service would improve transit and job access to underserved communities along this corridor, which is currently home to about 900,000 residents and 260,000 jobs, and with growth expected by at least 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs in the next 25 years.

For many residents along this corridor, crossing from neighbourhood to neighbourhood is slow and tedious because existing subway lines are oriented towards Manhattan, even as many new work opportunities, schools and services are located in the outer boroughs. The project would provide critical mobility, creating better links for travel to and from Manhattan, as well as key connections among neighbourhoods, across boroughs and opening up new opportunities for reverse commuting into Nassau and Suffolk Counties.      

Each day, more than 100,000 commuters make daily trips within or across Brooklyn and Queens, often relying on buses that get caught in traffic along a tangled and crowded street network. Results from this historic and necessary step could lead to a new service that would provide end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, although most trips would be along shorter segments of the line. This would provide significant time savings for interborough Brooklyn and Queens trips compared with existing transit options.  

In addition to transit service, the existing Bay Ridge Branch corridor can service cross harbor rail freight and would dramatically reduce truck congestion regionally and expand goods movement facilities, thereby fortifying supply chains still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Transportation planners believe that cross harbor rail freight and passenger service on the Interborough Express can work together in concert, which could be a game-changer for the region. To that end, Governor Hochul is also directing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to complete the environmental review for the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel.