BQX

The BQX will be New York City’s first new rail system since the subway began service more than a century ago.

What is the BQX?

The BQX is a new, state-of-the-art streetcar system being planned by the City of New York. The BQX will be efficient and emissions-free and it will run on tracks flush with the existing roadway. Possible without overhead catenary wires or underground power sources, it will also be resilient against major weather and flood events. BQX trains will be ADA accessible and will accommodate bicycle parking.

Where will it go?

The BQX will link neighborhoods along a 16-mile route from Astoria to Sunset Park. Stops are expected to be approximately ½ mile apart and the line will connect to up to 10 ferry landings, 30 different bus routes, 15 different subway lines, 116 Citi Bike stations, and 6 LIRR lines. It will travel primarily in dedicated lanes, separated from traffic and bicycles along the route.

How often will it run?

The BQX could run 24 hours a day, at 5 minute intervals during peak service.

How much will it cost to ride?

The BQX fare will be the same as standard bus and subway fares, and should be integrated with the MTA for fare payment and free transfers.

How many people will it serve?

By 2035, the BQX is projected to serve more than 15 million annual riders. This service is essential to relieve overburdened subway lines and congested streets along the route and to accommodate the projected 30% population growth over the next three decades. The BQX will enhance opportunities and quality of life for everyone who lives and works along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront.

Will it reduce travel times?

Origin and Destination Current Travel Time (min) BQX Travel Time (min) Time Saved Per Ride (min)
Hallets Point to Midtown 55 37  18
Astoria to Williamsburg  61  26  35
Queensbridge to Navy Yard  59  27  32
Long Island City to DUMBO  48  33  15
Downtown Brooklyn to Williamsburg  40  26  14
DUMBO to Williamsburg  55  21  34

How will it be funded?

The BQX is anticipated to cost approximately $2.5 billion to construct and approximately $30 million per year to operate and maintain. These estimates assume that the BQX will be built and operated using all union labor. The cost of construction could be covered by a bond issued against future tax revenue increases from commercial and multifamily properties along the BQX route. Based upon the impacts of transit on property values in similar conditions, this revenue is estimated to be well above the cost of constructing the BQX and will not rely upon any new residential rezonings or tax rate increases.

When will it be built?

The BQX is a big idea. It has the ability to impact generations of New Yorkers. It will require community outreach, an environmental impact statement, a series of reviews and approvals, and construction bidding. If all stakeholders work together, the BQX can break ground by 2019.

Stats

A diverse
and vibrant
waterfront

The Waterfront At-a-Glance

The BQX will relieve overburdened infrastructure, ensure that growth and opportunity is spread more equitably along the waterfront, and provide access to jobs, educational opportunities, and recreational amenities for everyone.

The Brooklyn Queens waterfront has historically been the heart of New York City’s industry, with factories lining its shores from Bay Ridge to Astoria. As the City’s economy transitioned away from industrial production after World War II, the waterfront became increasingly underutilized and inaccessible. Over the past 15 years, however, New York has rediscovered its waterfront, reclaiming it for greenways and bike paths, river access, residential development and job creation in the creative economy.

Today the Brooklyn Queens waterfront is diverse and dynamic, with major employment hubs, growing mixed-income residential neighborhoods, new parks, arts and culture, higher education and healthcare facilities.

Despite this renaissance, the corridor continues to be severely underserved by transportation infrastructure, leaving some neighborhoods isolated, unable to access the growing opportunities along the waterfront. Many of these neighborhoods are still suffering from high unemployment and poverty. The BQX is a critical step in connecting waterfront residents to job centers, educational opportunities and recreational amenities, helping families break the cycle of poverty.

Updates

FAQ

The City has studied a waterfront streetcar before. Why is now the time right for the BQX?

The Brooklyn Queens waterfront has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, experiencing enormous residential and job growth, with far more growth on the horizon. In fact, during this time the center of the city has shifted eastward and Brooklyn and Queens have become first-choice destinations for living and working. Yet the transportation system has not kept up. With the streetcar, the City has identified an investment that will help both accommodate and catalyze more equitable growth, relieving congestion in communities that have experienced growth and bringing opportunity to communities that have been disconnected from the corridor’s revitalization.

Why a streetcar? Wouldn’t buses be more affordable?

The streets along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront are complex and indirect, making it difficult to service with a single bus route or Select Bus Service (SBS), the MTA’s rapid bus alternative. SBS vehicles also do not have the capacity to accommodate the anticipated BQX ridership. Unlike a bus, the BQX has the ability to move the projected 50,000 daily riders along the corridor in a single, efficient route. With dedicated right-of-way and traffic priority, it won’t get snarled in the traffic and congestion that often slows bus service. As a result, it will be faster and more reliable than any bus route along the corridor, and it will generate enough value to cover the cost of its construction. More importantly, the rails will physically connect the corridor, helping to attract riders and catalyze economic development opportunities in a way that buses do not.

Won’t the streetcar mostly serve luxury condos on the waterfront?

The reality is that economic growth on the waterfront has largely been confined to three neighborhoods – Long Island City, North Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn/DUMBO. The streetcar will ensure that other communities along the corridor have equitable access to this economic growth. It will connect thousands of people, including 40,000 NYCHA residents, to jobs, education, healthcare and recreational amenities. The BQX will also serve the nearly 300,000 people who work along the waterfront, helping to preserve and revitalize the 50 million square feet of manufacturing and industrial space along the route. By connecting people to major middle-class job centers in the Navy Yard, Industry City, Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, the streetcar will expand employment opportunities and support continued growth of the City’s manufacturing and creative tech economies.

How will the BQX be integrated with the existing transportation system?

New York relies on public transportation like no other American city, and this is increasingly a multi-modal town, with new options like CitiBike, ferries and taxi apps making it easier to get around town. The BQX will become an integrated part of this network, with easy connections to 10 ferry stops, more than 30 bus routes, 15 subway lines and more than 100 CitiBike stations. The BQX will also run on the same fare system as the MTA and should accommodate free transfers and use of the MTA’s weekly and monthly cards.

But haven’t other cities tried and failed with streetcars?

The key to a successful streetcar is establishing a route that serves a clear need, integrates with the existing transit network, runs fast and travels far enough to draw ridership and spur growth, and has a clear funding source. That’s exactly what the City has identified here. By connecting underserved neighborhoods to jobs, culture and the broader transit system, the BQX will serve over 50,000 people each day and will become a vital part of New York City’s transportation network.

Building a brand new rail line is expensive. Why should we invest in the BQX rather than more important infrastructure improvements planned by the City?

The BQX doesn’t require City or State funding and won’t compete with other MTA projects. By capturing the value created by building real transit infrastructure, we will be able to pay for the system without taking from other transit and infrastructure priorities. This will allow the city to create a critical piece of transportation while still supporting other critical needs.‎

It’s hard getting anything approved in New York. Is there any chance this will actually get built?

The BQX already has broad support from community groups, elected officials, urban and transportation advocates, and business leaders in Brooklyn, Queens and across the City because it will provide desperately-needed transportation access to neighborhoods underserved by our aging transit system. We expect a robust debate and thoughtful discussion throughout the public review process, and believe it will continue to be widely supported by a variety of stakeholders. New Yorkers rely on public transportation and the BQX will be a vital addition for those living and working along the Brooklyn Queens waterfront.

What is the relationship between the Friends and the City?

The Friends group is an independent non-profit, 501c3 organization that was formed to advocate for the BQX.

Supporters

The BQX is supported by a deep and diverse coalition of New Yorkers including community leaders, small businesses, economic development groups and transit experts.

Join Us

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit that supports the Mayor’s initiative to create connectivity and generate economic development along the East River waterfront corridor from Sunset Park to Astoria through the construction of a modern streetcar that complements and enhances existing transportation infrastructure.

Press Kit

Please click the link below to download Friends of the BQX press materials, including renderings and press releases.

Download

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector
Board of Directors

Ya-Ting Liu
Executive Director

Ya-Ting is one of New York’s leading advocates for transit equity and environmental justice, with a decade of experience leading campaigns and organizing communities in support of transit and sustainability initiatives, including PlaNYC. Ya-Ting was previously Director of the New York League of Conservation Voter’s New York City Sustainability Program, where she led and directed NYLCV’s legislative, advocacy and civic engagement work across the five boroughs. Prior to joining the League, she was Director of Transit and Government Affairs at Transportation Alternatives, a leading transportation advocacy organization. At TA, she planned and developed civic engagement strategies, built coalitions around specific campaigns and liaised with elected officials at all levels. Ya-Ting was previously the Federal Advocate at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, where she engaged coalition partners on national transportation policies and organized the first-ever state transportation reform conference. Ya-Ting holds a Master of Arts degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She is a member of the Board of Directors at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Ya-Ting is Mom to a toddler, twins and rescue dog, and a rider of all modes of public transportation.

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Executive Committee:
Jed Walentas, Chair
Two Trees Management Co.
Jill Eisenhard, Secretary
Red Hook Initiative
Andrew Hoan, Treasurer
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Michelle de la Uz, Vice-Chair
Fifth Avenue Committee
Jukay Hsu, Vice-Chair
Coalition for Queens
Elizabeth Lusskin, Vice-Chair
Long Island City Partnership
Carlo Scissura, Vice-Chair
The New York Building Congress
Paul Steely White, Vice-Chair
Transportation Alternatives
Tom Wright, Vice-Chair
Regional Plan Association
Board of Directors:
Michelle Adams
Tishman Speyer
Marc Agger
Agger Fish Corporation
Carmelo Anthony
Melo7 Tech Partners
Jordan Barowitz
The Durst Organization
Gail Benjamin
Land Use Professional
Frances Brown
Red Hook East Resident Association
Vishaan Chakrabarti
Practice for Architecture Urbanism DPC
Claudia Coger
Astoria Resident Association
Erin Gabrielli
Atlas Capital Group
Alex Garvin
AGA Public Realm Strategies
Tom Grech
Queens Chamber of Commerce
Annette Juriaco
Rubenstein
Michael Kaye
Douglaston Development
Andrew Kimball
Industry City
Joe Lhota
NYU Langone Medical Center
Anthony Lopez
Zone 126
Gail Mellow
LaGuardia Community College
Regina Myer
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Brandon Nelson
JetBlue
Ramon Peguero
Los Sures
Tucker Reed
Totem
David Rosen
Brooklyn Allied Bars & Restaurants
John Rudikoff
Brooklyn Law School
Michael Rudin
Rudin Management
Michael Ruiz
National Grid
Alexandria Sica
DUMBO BID
April Simpson
Queensbridge Resident Association
Anthony Sosa
Ingersoll Resident Association
Doug Steiner
Steiner Studios
Bishop Mitchell Taylor
Urban Upbond
Jay Walder
Motivate
Carol Wilkins 
Ravenswood Resident Association
Fred Wilson
Union Square Ventures