Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to be overly optimistic about the project.
In early 2014, Governor Cuomo said the estimated cost for construction of the LaGuardia Air Train would be $450 million. Over four years has passed since Cuomo announced this project, with little progress to date.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority 2017-2026 capital budget plan lists the cost of project at $1 billion. It has recently been revised to $1.5 billion.
Cuomo's belief the AirTrain will provide a "one-seat ride" for those traveling to and from LaGuardia Airport isn't born out by the facts. Why would any traveler with luggage attempt to squeeze on packed rush hour subway and LIRR trains?
Cuomo apparently never considered how this issue will be resolved when contemplating this project.
A true one-seat ride could be accomplished by simply extending the N & W subway line from its current terminus at Astoria/Ditmars Blvd. to LaGuardia Airport. But this previously died due to community opposition.
There is also no room to run additional trains in or out of Penn Station during either the morning or evening rush hours via the East River tunnels. This conflicts with Cuomo's promise to have the LIRR introduce a new frequent service between Penn Station and Mets-Willets Point.
And completion of communication-based train control may only result in increasing the number of trains per hour from 30 to 32 in each direction during rush hour. After that, there is no other opportunity for increasing capacity.
In 2014, Cuomo promised the LaGuardia AirTrain would be up and running by 2019. Now he says this will occur by 2021. Even this date appears unrealistic.
Larry Penner is a resident of Great Neck and former employee of the U.S. Department of Transportation.