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Six out of 10 would use AirTrain-LIRR link to LaGuardia, according to survey

An artist's rendering made available on July 31,

An artist's rendering made available on July 31, 2018, shows an AirTrain approaching LaGuardia Airport. Credit: Office of the New York governor

Six out of 10 recent LaGuardia Airport travelers would have used the proposed AirTrain link to the Long Island Rail Road if it were in place, according to a new survey.

The online survey, conducted by the Global Strategy Group on behalf of a A Better Way to LGA, a coalition of businesses supporting the project, gauged 409 recent LaGuardia travelers’ interest in using the proposed AirTrain, which would connect the airport to the LIRR’s Mets-Willets Point station and the 7 subway line in Queens.

Of those surveyed, 64 percent said they would have used the 1.5-mile rail link if it existed. The percentage was higher among those traveling to or from Manhattan — 74 percent.

“These findings make clear what we in Queens have been saying for some time: an AirTrain at LaGuardia Airport will benefit travelers and our environment,” said Thomas Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of A Better Way to LGA. "The high numbers for demand for AirTrain LGA will increase even further as the project comes to fruition."

The LaGuardia Airtrain has faced several obstacles since it was proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in January 2015. The project, which is being led by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has swollen in cost from the originally proposed $450 million to about $2 billion.

Critics have said the indirect route design is far from ideal, with passengers having to travel east from LaGuardia to Flushing, only to double back to go to Manhattan. They've also questioned the project officials' estimated 30-minute travel time between LaGuardia and Penn Station.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer in a June letter also questioned the LIRR’s ability to handle the estimated 6 to 10 million additional riders that would use the AirTrain.

The Port Authority has said it hopes to begin construction on the LaGuardia AirTrain next year and for it to be complete by 2022.

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