New express bus lines to LaGuardia Airport proposed, plus past failed N train options

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Image source: Times Ledger

The Times Ledger reports that the MTA is looking at new ways to get people to LaGuardia Airport via public transportation, and have proposed three new bus lines with that in mind. Last week the agency presented them at an open house event at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights. They had considered a variety of transit options, from subway extensions to ferry service, and came to the conclusion that bus rapid transit, known as Select Bus Service (SBS), would be the best solution for this particular situation.

The three bus lines are:

  1. An express version of the M60. This bus travels from 125th Street in Manhattan to LaGuardia via the Triborough (RFK) Bridge.
  2. A new SBS bus line from Roosevelt Avenue and 61st Street – this is near the 61st-Street Woodside stop on the 7 train and the Woodside LIRR stop – that would travel along the BQE and Grand Central Parkway to LaGuardia. The estimated time for this ride would be 9 minutes.
  3. A new SBS bus line from the Bronx via Webster Avenue.

This evening was part of a series of meetings and workshops that have been held for over a year to “identify ways to improve public transportation to LaGuardia that would cost relatively little to implement and could be implemented quickly.”

Years ago – first in 1999, then in multiple subsequent years, a proposal was floated to extend the N/Q elevated train line through Astoria to LaGuardia (and in 2002 a spur off the 7 train at Willets Point), but local residents and almost all Queens politicians vehemently rejected the idea. The line would have extended along 31st Street onto ConEd property, and turned right onto 19th Avenue, leading to the Marine Air Terminal.

In 2007, Peter Vallone said, “Extending the elevated track will cause unnecessary hardship to residents and businesses in the area.” He suggested a route that traveled along the East River shoreline to the airport as more feasible (perhaps a ferry line one day will travel this route). The Daily News called it all “NAMBYism” - Not Above My Backyard.

Even more interesting are two other proposals that were out there at the time. 2nd Avenue Sagas talks about it,

The MTA also considered an eastward extension along Ditmars Boulevard, a plan to reroute LaGuardia-bound N trains from Queensboro Plaza through the Sunnyside rail yard and along the eastern edge of St. Michael’s Cemetary to what Newsday called “elevated tracks parallel to the Grand Central Parkway.” A barely-acknowledged fourth route would have seen trains head east via Astoria Boulevard.

Astoria sure would be a different place if any of these plans had been implemented. It would have connected Astoria Heights (AKA Upper Ditmars – GMAP) much easier. Who knows how property values would have been affected if those sweet homes were nearer a train line.

New express buses proposed for LaGuardia riders [Times Ledger]
Dreams of taking the N to LaGuardia [2nd Avenue Sagas]