It is no surprise that due to the financial crises as a result of COVID-19 on the municipal budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio is reconsidering advancing his $2.7 billion Brookyn-Queens streetcar project known as BQX.
There was never a guarantee that the Federal Transit Administration would pay for 50 percent of the cost. Dreams of Amazon doing the same have come and gone, since they canceled abandoned coming to Long Island City.
There is also no funding for this project in the MTA’s 2020-2024 Five-Year Capital Plan. And there is no proposed funding to advance this project in either the city or state budgets. No one knows if the next Mayor will support this project and make it a priority.
Mayor de Blasio's plan to finance this project by taking a percentage of property taxes on new development was always robbing Peter to pay Paul. This would reduce the amount of money available for police, fire, sanitation and other essential municipal services.
Neither the Department of Transportation nor the Economic Development Corporation have experience in design, construction or operations of street car systems. The mayor would have to ask the MTA to serve as a project sponsor and system operator.
Don't count on riding the BQX in your lifetime. Instead, the city should try running simple limited-stop bus service on the same route. The Queens Bus Network Redesign draft plan proposes creation of the new QT 1 bus route.
It would cross the Pulaski Bridge to connect Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and downtown Brooklyn. This might make for a low-cost and easily implemented improvement rather than the $2.7 billion BQX.