Port Authority Accused of Knowingly Overestimating AirTrain Value

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announcing changes for LaGuardia Airport’s infrastructure Monday July 27, 2015.  (Office of the Governor/Kevin P. Coughlin)

A federal review of Port Authority’s LaGuardia Airport AirTrain rebuked the Port Authority of New York and Jersey for choosing that particular plan, which they concluded was costly, and ultimately ineffective.

The environmental group Riverkeep utilized a freedom of information request to show that in 2019, Federal Aviation Administration officials were concerned by the choice of a project that their own reviews suggested was flawed.

The planned $2 billion elevated train, intended to transport travelers the airport and ease car traffic, has been widely criticized for a roundabout route and for a travel time that could be longer than taking the bus, the New York Post reported. The AirTrain has long been championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The FAA noted that the Port Authority was focused too much on “minimization of community impacts” and therefore refused to consider expanding preexisting train lines.

“Using minimization of impacts to screen out alternatives leads to arbitrary and unevenly applied criteria that are not fully informed by the full range of impacts associated with each alternative,” the FAA wrote. “It also only allows one alternative to possibly meet the criteria.”

It also pointed that for someone to be able to get to LaGuardia from Manhattan in less than 30 minutes, travelers would be able to make the train exactly on time and the train would have to leave exactly on time.

Riverkeep’s head Mike DuLong told the Post, “The bus service that goes to LaGuardia is faster than the AirTrain is going to be. Every transit expert that I’ve spoken to has said that this is a bad idea, and that there are better options on the table. We just want a meaningful review of those alternatives.”

Despite these criticism, the FAA is expected to greenlight the project this year.



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