Glendale residents have long criticized the dearth of public transportation options in the area. Now Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is spearheading efforts to alleviate commuter headaches, with a proposal to implement light rail service between Glendale and Long Island City, utilizing the Long Island Railroad’s Montauk line, which currently caters exclusively to freight travel.
“This is something I’ve been hearing about for a very long time in my district,” she said of the lack of public transit. “[People] need more efficient ways of getting to work, getting out of Glendale and Middle Village.”
The Montauk line catered to passengers until 1998, when it was discontinued due to lack of ridership. However Councilwoman Crowley said she envisions implementing stations in more high-traffic areas, including the Shops at Atlas Park. She said she had had a very preliminary conversation with the mall last year, at which time they had voiced interest in the plan.
She said that increasingly Queens residents were working in other boroughs, something which the current public transit available to Glendale residents didn’t facilitate.
“If you want to get to the core of Manhattan for work you have to put an hour on your commute,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way when you’re only 5 miles away. What we’ve seen is there’s more and more people working in Queens and living in Brooklyn, and vice versa. There’s a greater need for inter-borough commuting, and this provides that.”
She said that implementing passenger service could also decrease freight rail along the Montauk line, long the cause of quality of life concerns within the community.
“The freight is polluting our communities, it’s noisy and its unhealthy,” she said. “We have to understand that if we don’t see this rail as a benefit for commuters, it’s going to be utilized more and more for freight. Let’s make this rail one that benefits our community.”
Councilwoman Crowley said that the feedback has been very positive as she had begun discussing the idea within the community in recent days.
“The majority of people are responding in a positive way,” she said. “In my way of evaluating it, I don’t see many negatives.”
Next up she will continue gaining input from the community, and will begin discussing the proposal with the Department of City Planning, and eventually other agencies, including the MTA.
“The cost of one of these light rail cars is about the same as a city bus,” she said. “It’s a no-brainer to have light rail on those tracks.”