Mayor Bill de Blasio said that a successful rollout of his proposed $2.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens streetcar line could spur the city to try such transit systems elsewhere.
Speaking in front of a giant rendering of a model BQX streetcar, de Blasio said he expected the project to begin construction in 2019. He said the plan is a “a good and noble experiment.”
“If it works here, it’s going to make it easier to do light rail in other places,” de Blasio said in Red Hook. He added: “We’re never going to get anywhere in this city if we don’t try to do big, bold things. We have to adapt to a new set of circumstances. Here is an extraordinary opportunity.”
Although de Blasio said the fare would be matched to the cost of a subway or bus fare, there is not necessarily a promise of free transfers between the MTA, which is controlled by the state, and the proposed streetcar, which would be run by the city.
“Getting the transfers worked out is something that will take some detailed work” with the MTA, de Blasio said.
“We want to maximize the ability of people to connect across all of these options, but look, we should also remember that a lot of people are just going to take this just to take this.”
De Blasio first rolled out the idea for a Queens-Brooklyn streetcar network in his State of the City address earlier this month.
According to the city’s economic development chief, Maria Torres Springer, planners expect streetcar stops every half mile or so along the route. The line would start with 60 cars.
Groundbreaking is expected by 2019 or 2020, Torres Springer said. In the interim, city officials would be doing a “block-by-block analysis.”
The financing of the plan requires the City Council’s approval.
De Blasio’s office said that the streetcar system would pay for itself: money generated by increased property values would be used to pay off the bonds that finance the project.
A journey from the Queensbridge housing project to the Brooklyn Navy Yard would last 27 minutes, and one to Brooklyn’s DUMBO section from Red Hook Houses, 20 minutes.