Since the 1990s, the Regional Plan Association has been advocating for the restoration of passenger service to a rail line that runs from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to Ridgewood, Queens and is now used as a freight line. Known as the Bay Ridge Branch, the line is owned by the Long Island Railroad, but at the end of the year, the MTA hopes to begin a study to determine if this idea is feasible. The RPA’s Kate Slevin explained to NY1, “We don’t have unlimited resources here in New York City, as we know, so the fact that we already have tracks there, that are underutilized, really means a lot.”
The Bay Ridge Branch was last used by commuters 95 years ago. Restoring service to the line is part of the RPA’s larger Triboro RX proposal. Utilizing mostly old freight lines, “the 24-mile route, which has been dubbed the X line, would run from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to Jackson Heights in Queens to Co-Op City in the Bronx,” as 6sqft previously explained, and would connect 17 subway lines and four commuter rail lines, creating a more direct north-south route. As City Limits reported, in June, State Assembly Member Latrice Walker introduced a bill that would require the MTA to complete a feasibility study on the Triboro proposal. Walker, who represents Brownsville, Brooklyn, told City Limits in a statement at the time, “Residents in communities such as Brownsville or Co-op city have been plagued by two-fare zones and inaccessibility, however, when we have conversations regarding updating infrastructure and service lines, it always seems as if we are an after-thought.”
The MTA seems to have become more conscious of the feasibility of existing rail infrastructure. As NY1 points out, the agency recently completed a study on restoring service on the Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR, which runs from Rego Park to the eastern edge of Queens. However, it concluded that it would cost $6.7 billion to get this stretch back up and running. And considering the MTA has allotted $5.7 billion total for all LIRR-related work in its 2020-2024 Capital Plan, it seems like a long shot that this could happen within the next four years.
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