Port Authority pauses $2.1B LaGuardia AirTrain plan to review alternatives at Hochul’s request

A rendering of the proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia.
Office of the Governor

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey slammed the brakes on the controversial $2.1 billion LaGuardia AirTrain proposal to review alternatives at the request of Governor Kathy Hochul, the agency announced late Tuesday afternoon. 

“At Governor Hochul’s request, the Port Authority is undertaking a thorough review of potential alternative mass transit options to LaGuardia Airport,” read a statement released by the bi-state authority just before 5 p.m. on Oct. 12. “During the review, the Port Authority will pause further action with respect to the LaGuardia AirTrain project.”

“The agency will work in close consultation with independent experts and stakeholders, and will complete its work as expeditiously as possible, consistent with the need for the review to be thorough and rigorous,” the statement added. 

The announcement comes a week after Hochul said she wanted the agency to look into other options, potentially derailing the pricey proposal that was heavily favored by her disgraced predecessor, ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton had said as recently as Sept. 30 that the 2.3-mile elevated people mover between the Queens airport and the Mets-Willets Point stations on the 7 line and the Long Island Rail Road was the best way forward, but said officials would provide “whatever review Governor Hochul desires.”

The project has drawn criticism for not providing a one-seat ride from the airport to Manhattan, and for taking travelers headed to the island the wrong way east before they transfer. 

Other options that would have offered a one-seat ride, but which were dismissed during an environmental review, included extending the N/W subway line, building out better bus service, or offering ferry service. 

Authority officials have argued it was the most preferable choice because it does not cut through any residential neighborhoods.  

Environmentalists and neighborhood advocates took their concerns before the US Court of Appeals and sued the FAA and the Port Authority last month for failing to consider other possible transit options.

The project was all set to go when President Joe Biden’s Federal Aviation Administration green-lit it in July, but after Cuomo’s resignation in August due to a barrage of sexual harassment allegations, the train’s future became uncertain.