June 5, 2019
Statement from A Better Way to LGA Coalition Co-Chairs and Members
Coalition Voices Support for AirTrain LGA Project, Calls for Robust Community Engagement in Advance of FAA-Led Scoping Hearings
The following statement can be attributed to the three co-chairs of A Better Way to LGA: Angela Pinsky, Executive Director of the Association for a Better New York; Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the New York Building Congress; and Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
“Our coalition represents a diverse group of stakeholders and community members that, importantly, share one common thread: we all recognize the immense benefits that AirTrain LGA will bring to Queens and to New York City as a whole. AirTrain LGA represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring LaGuardia Airport – the only major East Coast airport without a rail connection – into the 21st century, and in doing so unlock the potential of more connected, less congested New York. New Yorkers and visitors alike deserve a Better Way to LGA and the solution is AirTrain LGA.
Currently, more than 90% of LaGuardia travelers get to and from the airport by taxi or private vehicle. AirTrain LGA is projected to serve up to 10 million riders per year. In Queens, that translates to 28,000 cars off the road and onto public transit every single week, congestion relief for residents and businesses that rely on local deliveries, and 6,250 metric tons less in CO2 emissions from gridlocked vehicles.
Without a rail link, LaGuardia travelers face unpredictable travel times – a phenomenon so unpleasant and severe that a 2017 survey from the Partnership for New York City showed that in the preceding year, more than half of all business travelers made a conscious decision to avoid flying to the New York region for a meeting. This translates to a huge loss in economic activity – money that would be spent on travel, hotels and accommodations, and at restaurants and local businesses.
As we advocate in favor of AirTrain LGA, we also want to ensure that the environmental review process and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) result in the best possible outcome for New York City. This project can also help realize ancillary benefits – such as the revitalization of the Flushing Bay Promenade and other public spaces – that we want to be studied in full. As such, A Better Way to LGA will be attending the FAA-led Scoping Hearings and calling on the EIS to include robust engagement with relevant community stakeholders, and evaluate the following areas:
Placement of the transfer station at Willets Point as close as possible to the Long Island Railroad to ensure a fast and seamless transfer;
Potential transfer, today or in the future, of LGA employee parking, passenger parking and/or additional car rental facilities at Willets Point;
Impact on Grand Central Parkway and traffic if the AirTrain is not built; and
Ensuring that any options explored meet the criteria of providing a travel time between Midtown Manhattan and LaGuardia of 30 minutes or less.
LaGuardia is already undergoing an $8 billion overhaul that will finally deliver the world-class airport that New Yorkers want and deserve – AirTrain LGA must be part of that vision.”
Additional Statements from Coalition Members
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York: “We are proud to support AirTrain LGA, a critical piece of infrastructure that will modernize the trip to LaGuardia. This project will provide a boost to our local economy, and create thousands of high-skilled, high-paying jobs for New Yorkers. The unpredictability associated with flying in and out of LaGuardia is holding us back as a City, and with AirTrain LGA we’ll finally have a mass transit option everyone can rely on.”
Denise Richardson, Executive Director, General Contractors Association of New York: "A 21st Century New York economy deserves 21st Century airport access. The GCA is proud to support the Governor’s vision for AirTrain LGA – and we look forward to turning it into reality to help maintain New York’s rightful role as the Empire State.”
Elizabeth Lusskin, President, Long Island City Partnership: “At the Long Island City Partnership, our mission is to support economic development that will strengthen our authentic industrial, commercial, residential, retail and cultural attraction mixed-use neighborhood. We applaud the Governor’s investment in AirTrain LGA, a critical project that will create jobs, provide New Yorkers and global visitors with new mass-transit options, and create opportunities to support Queens businesses and tourism attractions.
John Samuelsen, International President, Transport Workers Union: “The AirTrain to LaGuardia is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve New York’s crumbling, public transportation infrastructure. This project is long overdue and will not only give major headway to the biggest city in America’s economic development goals, but also create the good-paying, trade union jobs that the working communities of NYC are built upon. The long-awaited revitalization of the Willets Point Station will also provide much-needed transit for Queens residents, and the thousands of LaGuardia Airport employees who currently rely on buses, personal cars, and in some cases bikes, for their daily commutes. Nearly every other major city in the world has public transit linked to their international airports – it’s about time New York City does, too.”
Seth Bornstein, Executive Director, Queens Economic Development Corporation: “The AirTrain is a crucial part of the ongoing transformation of LaGuardia Airport into the world-class transportation hub New York City deserves. The current lack of public transit options to LaGuardia has led to severe congestion clogging our local streets, which hurts air passengers, Queens residents, and local business owners alike. AirTrain LGA will help relieve this burden on the Queens community while creating opportunities to promote tourism and strengthen our Queens economy.”
About A Better Way to LGA
A Better Way to LGA is a diverse coalition of community members, economic development groups, transportation advocates, civic stakeholders, and local business leaders who recognize the importance of providing fast and reliable transit alternatives for LaGuardia Airport travelers.
A Better Way to LGA Coalition Members
Association for a Better New York (Co-Chair)
New York Building Congress (Co-Chair)
Queens Chamber of Commerce (Co-Chair)
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
Delta Air Lines
The General Contractors Association of New York
Global Business Travel Association
Global Gateway Alliance
Hotel Association of New York City
JetBlue Airways Corporation
LaGuardia Gateway Partners
Long Island Association
Long Island City Partnership
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council
New York Mets
NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management
Queens Economic Development Corporation
Teamsters Joint Council 16
Transport Workers Union
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology