MTA Begins Study of Passenger Service along Bay Ridge Freight Line

MTA Begins Study of Passenger Service along Bay Ridge Freight Line
Potential passenger line. Via MTA

Many folks have been advocating for a passenger option along the freight line that cuts across Brooklyn connecting Bay Ridge with Astoria – for decades.

Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that it has awarded a $1.3 million contract to engineering firm AECOM, who will work with subcontractor WSP to begin studying the feasibility of initiating passenger service to a freight-only rail line, be it the subway, commuter rail or light rail, or even bus service.

Regional Plan Association has been proposing and advocating for what is known as the Triboro Line in its plans for how to improve mobility across the region for years.

“Regional Plan Association is thrilled that the MTA is moving forward on this study, which is the crucial first step to realize our Triboro vision,” Tom Wright, President and CEO said. “Transit service on the Bay Ridge Line would not only provide better transit service between the outer boroughs but also cut construction and acquisition costs since the rail tracks are already there. This study will build on our initial concept, and evaluate cost, feasibility, among other issues, to help push the project forward. We are excited to keep working with the MTA and all other partners on this.”

New transit service could offer potential connections or transfers to intersecting subway lines and the LIRR. The line is nearly 16 miles long and runs from the New York Harbor waterfront to Astoria via Midwood, East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick, Glendale, Middle Village and Elmhurst. It crosses or nears 19 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

“This project is hugely exciting – partly because it is based on the concept of squeezing more out of our already existing infrastructure so we don’t always have to build new subway lines from scratch,” said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber in a statement. “Putting mass transit on the Bay Ridge Branch could allow the MTA to serve more neighborhoods and provide better connections to thousands of people throughout Brooklyn and Queens – all while also creating opportunities for increasing environmentally-friendly freight rail in years to come.

A freight train track that cuts through Coney Island Avenue, between Avenue I and Avenue H, used to draw complaints from customers. Bklyner file.

Currently, the southern part of the line is owned by MTA Long Island Rail Road and used exclusively for freight trains operated by the New York & Atlantic Railway, while the northern part is owned by CSX Transportation, a freight railroad.