Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar proposal has community support, poll shows

Residents living along the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector route are resoundingly in favor of the streetcar plan, according to a new poll from the project’s support group.

The poll, published Thursday from the Friends of the BQX, found that 74% of residents living near the route support the building of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $2.5 billion streetcar, which would connect Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to Astoria, Queens, along the borough’s winding waterfront. Just 16% voted against the proposal.

“The poll results really reaffirms what the Friends of the BQX and supporters have said all along,” said Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of the Friends group, “which is that there is a need for greater transit access along the waterfront and that the BQX serves as a connective tissue to provide residents greater mobility and also greater access to jobs.”

Public relations firm Global Strategies group conducted the poll, which surveyed 701 residents via telephone, including 147 people living at nearby NYCHA complexes. The firm broke down voting by City Council district. Astoria and Sunset Park districts both featured the highest level of support. Each tallied 79% pro-streetcar votes. Residents in Long Island City were least enthused, though 63% still voted in favor of the project.

While the mayor envisions the streetcar as a vital link for developing neighborhoods in a “transit dessert,” detractors have been concerned with the route, which is located in flood-prone areas and without a clear dedicated right of way, as well as the mode itself and if a streetcar is the best way to move people through the corridor.

Steven Strauss, a professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson school of public and international affairs, said he saw need to bring better transit to the area, but questioned the long-term viability of a streetcar, which is anticipated to launch service in 2024.

“Is the BQX going to be obsolete by then and should the city be exploring options more around technology and digitally-enabled transportation?” said Strauss, who’d like to see the city explore partnerships with private transit services, like Uber and Lyft, to bolster mass transit, as other cities have recently. “It will probably take 30 to 40 years pay off the streetcar. Is this actually going to be economically viable in 30 to 40 years?”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Sunset Park as a neighborhood in Queens; the correct borough is Brooklyn.