A New Streetcar Proposal, Not Named DeBlasio, Though:
Don’t get me wrong, as someone who lives right next to the waterfront in North Brooklyn, I was all too happy when the mayor announced a streetcar for the streets and avenues that parallel the East River in Brooklyn and Queens.
But I’m going to look past my bias for a new transit line along the street I live on, and say this. The BQX (Brooklyn-Queens Connector) won’t work unless it is completely flawless, for a streetcar. That’s something that’s hard to promise in a city where our transit authority’s capital budget is short of $15 billion dollars.
But the main reason why it won’t work has nothing to do with the actual idea of a new transit line along the waterfront, it has to do with the nature of the type of mass transportation the Mayor chose for this new corridor: a streetcar.
The problem with a streetcar is reflected in the problems of a normal city bus, and the main being that a streetcar can’t handle that heavy of a load, hence the other name for streetcar, light rail. This is fine if the streetcar has frequent service, but for a route this long that might be hard to ask. In fact, they’re even might be a large amount of vehicles on the route, but rather than increasing service frequency, it will be subject to the same bunching that buses have to deal with, something that is caused by above ground traffic.
This is not to say that streetcars are not helpful to the city, but I argue they should only be used to connect riders in subway deserts to the places that they need to go, and that includes the subway.
Some neighborhoods that could be included in this are:
- Canarsie; along Rockaway Parkway, Remsen Avenue, E 80th St, Seaview Avenue, Avenue L, and Flatlands Avenue.
- Greenpoint/Williamsburg; Flushing Avenue, Kingsland Avenue/Monitor Street/Norman Avenue, Nassau Avenue/Berry Street/Wythe Avenue, Graham Avenue/Manhattan Avenue, Montrose Avenue/Division Avenue, Morgan Avenue.
- Bed-Stuyvesant/Bushwick; Lewis Avenue/Marcus Garvey Boulevard/Ave of Puerto Rico, Halsey Street, Gates Avenue, Malcolm X Boulevard, Howard Avenue,
Brooklyn, and that’s for two reasons, one being that I don’t know enough about the transit needs of The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island; and two being that Brooklyn would be the best place to test out the new streetcars, to gage whether or not streetcars could be something for all neighborhoods to invest in. Brooklyn, is the fastest growing borough, the most populous borough already, and the second largest borough in terms of size. It combines a Bronx growth rate, a size similar to Queens, and a population larger than Philly’s.
These streetcars could be used to connect people within neighborhoods, and connect neighboring neighborhoods. A new streetcar system would allow for subway accessibility, and accessibility to jobs, all within the borough.
I believe, that by constructing this, Brooklyn can become a more car-optional borough and eliminate the long commutes that are necessary for some commuters to get to the subway lines themselves. By building these streetcars in the neighborhoods that make up Brooklyn, it’ll show we can revive a lost technology and that we can build it all across the city.