AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport Gets Green Light

By Anna Breuer on 20 July 2021
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The “Shorter Than The Day” sculpture at LaGuardia Airport

The $2.1 billion AirTrain to New York’s LaGuardia Airport cleared its final hurdle Tuesday as the Federal Aviation Administration gave its approval.

The project, which was first proposed in 2014, will be similar to the people mover, known as the AirTrain JFK, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Currently, unlike JFK and Newark Liberty International Airport, the only public transportation to LaGuardia is via a bus that connects to the subway and Long Island Rail Road, or another bus that connects to the Metro-North Railroad.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan for the LaGuardia AirTrain in 2015 and the state legislature approved the project in 2018.  Cuomo has billed the project as a 30-minute trip from the airport to Midtown Manhattan.

The governor championed the AirTrain as part of his plan to change LaGuardia from a “third-world” airport, a reference by then Vice President Joseph Biden when he arrived there, to a “world class” facility.

La Guardia Airport “deserves a reliable, efficient, and affordable transit connector worthy of its destination,” Cuomo said in a statement. “With the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval today of the La Guardia AirTrain, that’s exactly what New Yorkers will get.”

The airport is in the final stages of a years-long makeover that included gutting and rebuilding the Central Terminal Building while the airport remained open and fully operational and the replacement of the two Delta terminals east of the Central Terminal with one new terminal that connects to the new Central Terminal.

While advocates for the AirTrain say it would improve access to the airport, alleviate traffic congestion, and lower levels of air pollution, some residents of nearby communities opposed it, as did some transit advocates who objected to its indirect route to Manhattan.  While Manhattan is to the west of the airport, the train will travel in a southeasterly direction to reach the Willets Point station where both the LIRR and subway have stops.

The new AirTrain will run along the north side of the Grand Central Parkway from Willets Point to two stations at the airport.

Construction along the parkway could begin as early as late summer, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates LaGuardia Airport, said.

The idea of a rail link to LaGuardia isn’t exactly new.  It was first proposed in 1943 when the city Board of Transportation proposed extending the BMT Astoria Line, now the N and W subway lines, to the airport.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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