Nov. 8, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Six out of 10 people who recently commuted to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) said they would have used the AirTrain LGA to get there if it had already been built, according to a survey.
The online survey of 409 recent commuters to LaGuardia Airport found that there was even greater interest, 74 percent, in the AirTrain among commuters coming from Midtown and other areas in Manhattan.
The AirTrain, which the Port Authority aims to start constructing next year, will go from the airport to Willets Point. Commuters will be able get to Willets Point via the 7 Train and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).
A majority of LGA employees also hope to see the 1.5-mile AirTrain come to fruition, the survey released by the advocacy group A Better Way to LGA revealed. About 64 percent of airport workers who responded to the October survey said they would have used the AirTrain to get to and from work if it were in operation.
“These findings make clear what we in Queens have been saying for some time: an AirTrain at LaGuardia Airport will benefit travelers and our environment,” said Thomas Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of A Better Way to LGA. “The high numbers for demand for AirTrain will increase even further as the project comes to fruition.”
Most travelers get to LaGuardia Airport by car, with 70 percent of respondents reporting that they got there by personal car, Uber or another car service.
Furthermore, nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of respondents described their travel to or from LGA as “frustrating.” Of those, 37 percent described it as “very frustrating.”
The Port Authority estimates that a trip on the AirTrain from Midtown to LGA would take approximately 30 minutes, significantly faster than by car.
Commuters could take the 7 train or LIRR from either Grand Central Station or Penn Station then transfer to the AirTrain at Willets Point Station.
LaGuardia Airport is the only major airport on the East Coast without a rail connection. The Port Authority estimates that AirTrain would carry approximately 6.6 to 10 million riders per year by 2025.
The Port Authority aims to complete the AirTrain by 2022.
Despite the survey findings, many have criticized the AirTrain and its projected cost, which has swelled to $2 billion from its original $450 million price tag.
The results from a series of public forums on the AirTrain proposal revealed that many oppose it. The Federal Aviation Administration reported that 255 area residents gave feedback from May through June 2019 in opposition to the AirTrain for a variety of reasons, while just 55 supported it.
Many said that the 7 subway line is already overcrowded and can’t support additional riders, particularly those with luggage. More than 100 commenters suggested extending the N, W subway line as an alternative.
Critics also expressed concern that construction of the AirTrain would disrupt residential neighborhoods with constant noise and vibration from machines and that the railway would cut off the community from green space like Flushing Bay, the Flushing Bay Promenade and the World’s Fair Marina.
This AirTrain is a huge boondoggle and makes absolutely no sense.
The Q70 from Jackson Heights is direct and is both easier to transfer to than the proposed AirTrain will be and the door-to-door travel time for almost all trips will be shorter than the proposed AirTrain’s travel time. From upper Manhattan, the Q60 is always going to be faster than heading to midtown, transferring to the 7, and then transferring again to the AirTrain.
Moreover, why spend $2b on this when a link via the N/W through Astoria would probably be cost-competitive and provide a direct link from Times Square?
As for LIRR connections…do we really think folks who aren’t on the Port Washington line are going to want to go to Jamaica, transfer to a train to Woodside, and then connect to another train to Mets-Willets Point so they can walk half a mile to the AirTrain platform? They’re going to keep on driving.