LaGuardia Airport mass transit-link debate revived

Central terminal LaGuardia Airport is scheduled for a $3.6B makeover. April 11, 2014.
Central terminal LaGuardia Airport is scheduled for a $3.6B makeover. April 11, 2014. Photo Credit: MTA Police Dept.

Perhaps the lack of a real mass transit link helped LaGuardia Airport earn a reputation as a facility out of a third-world country — a sentiment coined by Vice President Joe Biden.

But while there are those who agree that LaGuardia needs a better transportation connection, there is disagreement on what type. Select Bus in the Bronx and the Q70 go to the airport, as will Select Bus Service that is coming to 125th Street.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee, Thursday asked the MTA to study linking a subway rail line to the airport, offering city money for the analysis. There was a push to extend the N train to the airport in the 1990s, but that went nowhere due to community opposition.

“I believe that at least we should be committed to allocate a small amount of money to doing a study on the flexibility of connecting LaGuardia Airport to the train system,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, the Global Gateway Alliance sent a letter to the city Department of Transportation asking for a bus rapid transit route along Ditmars Boulevard from the last stop of the N train to the airport three miles away. The route would be installed as part of the new airport terminal building project.

But if these methods prove too costly or difficult, ferry advocates suggest traveling by sea.

The New York City Economic Development Corp. studied reviving a ferry to the airport — a service operated privately from 1988 to 2000. The agency’s recent report noted “ferry service to LaGuardia Airport holds considerable promise” for a new boat route.

The EDC said a potential route modeled on a $25 fare could run on the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan up to near the airport.