The City’s Transit Union Is Onboard with Mayor de Blasio’s Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX)
The controversial trolley plan is on its way. The BQX will move thousands of people along the waterfront and it will also affect low income residents.
And they’re all in! The city’s transit union is onboard with Mayor de Blasio’s Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX). The controversial trolley project, the 16-mile streetcar, has been endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU). Despite the concerns expressed by residents and city’s stakeholders (its construction challenges and Mayor’s de Blasio’s self-fund plan through taxes from higher real estate values), the BQX continues getting allies.
The BQX would move thousands of people along a 14-mile stretch of waterfront. John Samuelsen, president of the TWU, told the Daily News his union could add several hundred jobs to its current roster, including streetcar operators, drivers, maintainers and supervisors. “These are not going to be low-wage jobs,” Samuelsen said. “We’re going to organize it.”
Since its announcement in 2016, during de Blasio’s State of the City address, City Hall has been trying to build public support for the streetcar which has been dogged by criticism that it’s a real estate industry-concocted transit project that the de Blasio administration may be unable to build.
One major criticism to de Blasio’s project is the fact that the BQX is a proposal drafted by a group of major real estate developers. Seven of which have vested interests along the path of the future trolley. According to The Daily News, approximately $245,000 was donated to Blasio’s nonprofit – the Campaign for One New York.
Mayor de Blasio is confident the BQX ($2.5 billion streetcar) would pay for itself thanks to tax revenues from new developments and higher real estate values. The trolley will connect over 400,000 residents to major job hubs from Sunset Park to Astoria. It will also have the potential to generate over $25 billion in economic impact to the City over the next 30 years.
Among the benefits, the City is expecting to achieve the following:
- Provide affordable and convenient transit for communities with limited transportation options;
- Support growing neighborhoods;
- Increase access to quality jobs (OneNYC);
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (80×50 Priority); and
- Calm traffic (Vision Zero).
One of the major concerns drawn by the BQX is that it will push low-income residents out of their communities. It is clear that this proposal is supported by high-powered developers that happen to have properties along the route. As Walter T. Mosley mentions in its OP-ED article, “A streetcar would allow these developers to rent their buildings at higher prices, increasing the gentrification that is already tearing our communities apart.
Even though, the BQX could be considered the biggest and most ambitious transportation proposal for these two boroughs, the challenges are numerous. Its overall vision lies in economic development, bringing not only comprehensive transit solutions to the community, including those in affordable housing. This project would guarantee jobs for these communities and also more options for affordable housing.
As Mosley states above, this is about ensuring transportation equality. The city and state of New York should provide more funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, making it easier for everyone in all boroughs and neighborhoods equal access to transportation, ensuring the ability to commute to work.
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