Sept. 8, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
A new study commissioned by an advocacy group for the new Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) shows that those living along the proposed corridor for the streetcar system largely support its construction.
In a telephone survey conducted in early July, Global Strategy Group found that out of the 701 people polled, 74 percent supported the proposed streetcar system that would follow a 16-mile route between Astoria and Sunset Park, stopping about every half mile.
The survey, commissioned by the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector advocacy group, showed that reasons given for supporting the BQX ranged from improved transit options, to accessibility to jobs and public housing. Others supported it due to its small environmental impact.
The survey did not report the reasons given against the proposed streetcar.
The study was conducted among 701 residents living along the corridor to both landlines and cell phones, and in both English and Spanish. It made a special effort to over-sample residents living in public housing, garnering a total of 147 NYCHA resident responses. The results were then weighted proportionally to voting populations across the corridor.
The survey results showed that the highest levels of support came from the two furthest ends of the proposed corridor, or City Council districts 22 and 36, with an approval rating of 79 percent each.
District 22, represented by Councilman Costa Constantinides, primarily covers Astoria, where the northernmost stop would be, while District 36, represented by Councilman Carlos Menchaca, covers several neighborhoods in Brooklyn including Sunset Park where the southernmost stop would be.
Though reasoning for opposition was not reported, 17 percent opposed the plan in District 22, and 16 percent opposed the plan in District 36.
The lowest levels of support came from City Council district 26 represented by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, though support for the plan still ranked at 63 percent, with opposition at 25 percent.
“In a city in which not-in-my-backyard opposition to large, public infrastructure projects is very common, the fact that support for the BQX is so strong across each council district and every demographic group along the corridor is a ringing endorsement,” said Jeffrey Plaut of the Global Strategy Group in a statement.
“The strong response to the argument that the BQX is needed to address a shortfall in transit options suggests voters in the corridor clearly understand the value of a new transit line in these rapidly growing waterfront communities,” Plaut added.
The city is currently working on a full-blown Alternatives Analysis study on the project, and the results are expected later in the fall. If completed, the line will serve an estimated 50,000 people per day.
Moving forward, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has published an expected timeline for the project.
In 2016, the city commenced detailed planning and community engagement, holding community meetings throughout the area this past spring, with more expected this fall.
If the plan moves forward as expected, 2017 will see the initial public approvals process begin, with the design being initiated in 2018. The selection of operators and contractors and a groundbreaking will happen in 2019, with an expected completion and service launch in 2024.
“These findings echo what we’re hearing loud and clear in communities throughout the corridor—that New York’s 100-year-old Manhattan-centric transit system doesn’t meet their needs and that there must be a better way to get around,” said Friends of the BQX Executive Director Ya-Ting Liu in a statement.
“Brooklyn and Queens residents want greater access to good-paying jobs and more reliable public transit for underserved communities, and overwhelmingly believe the BQX is a much-needed solution.”