Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector hires Ya-Ting Liu as executive director

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector has named Ya-Ting Liu as its first executive director.

The nonprofit support group for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $2.5 billion waterfront streetcar plan announced the news Thursday.

Liu will be responsible for overseeing operations at the group and engaging commuters along the proposed 16-mile route that stretches from Astoria, Queens, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

“Essentially, since subway surface began 100 years ago, we’re going to flip the script on what 21st century transit infrastructure can look like in one of the most diverse and complex Cities in America. That to me is really exciting. I think that the city has shown that they’re taking transit investment seriously and they are going to do what they can to really prioritize underserved communities,” she said

The nonprofit was founded in 2014 to develop the detailed plan for the streetcar system and get the city to invest in the project. This past February, de Blasio unveiled the plan at his annual State of The City address. It’s one of his administration’s flagship transit projects, along with de Blasio’s fast ferry network, to connect commuters to new job hubs growing outside of Manhattan.

De Blasio aims to launch service by 2024, until then his administration will be hammering out the exact route, operations and a phasing plan for implementations.

As discussions begin, the Regional Plan Association, which supports the project, believes that fighting for a dedicated right of way and fare integration will be key to the streetcar’s success.

“Right of way issues are the problem we have with all surface transit in the city,” said Rich Barone, vice president for transportation at the Regional Plan Association. “That could make or break .

“People need to go all in on this and not water it down,” Barone continued. “There will obviously be opposition. The mayor and supporters will have to be steadfast and not waiver when it comes to street preference.”

Previously, Liu was the director of the New York League of Conservation Voter’s New York City Sustainability Program, where she led and directed NYLCV’s legislative, advocacy and civic engagement work across the five boroughs. Prior to joining the League, she served as the Director of Transit and Government Affairs at the nonprofit transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.