Since Amazon announced that its HQ2 was coming to Queens, New Yorkers have wondered how the fraught NYC subway system and other infrastructure throughout the city will be able to handle the influx of workers. Now, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has an idea.
Katz on Monday called for Amazon to pay for the construction of the Queens-Brooklyn Connector (QBX), also called the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX).
The BQX is expected to stretch 16 miles, from Sunset Park, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens, Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed back in 2016.
But the streetcar between the two outer boroughs isn’t progressing as expected. As a soon-to-be member of the Queens community, Amazon should step up, Katz said.
“Amazon’s pick of Long Island City is a game-changer for Queens,” she said in a statement. “That said, the community’s significant concerns about capacity, equity and already-strained infrastructure needs are certainly valid, especially given the substantial tax incentives offered to Amazon.”
“A substantial and meaningful investment by Amazon that helps ensure the feasibility of QBX would be a fair investment into its new home, and a welcome opportunity for a good corporate neighbor to directly benefit the existing, impacted communities of Western Queens,” she continued.
The connector should also include a free transfer to MTA subways and buses and reduced ‘Fair Fares’ for lower-income New Yorkers, according to Katz. But since subways can still easily become overcrowded when Amazon HQ2 moves into Queens, she added that the Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue LIRR stations should become “full-time stations with enhanced service.”
What does Amazon HQ2 mean for Queens?
Katz’s comments on Amazon’s role in improving New York City’s transportation infrastructure come in light of the City Council’s upcoming hearings, according to her office.
Last week, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced there will be a series of hearings with elected officials and Amazon executives to talk more about what the HQ2 deal means for Long Island City and beyond.
While some officials have been strongly supporting in support of Amazon HQ2 in Queens, Johnson is among a group raising concerns about the effect the addition will have on the area.
Katz previously said that Queens is “primed” for Amazon and overall supports the deal, but is now acknowledging the neighborhood’s infrastructure needs.
“The company and the public sector must work together to make investments in necessary transit improvements that will support Queens residents,” she said.
But activists against Amazon HQ2 in Queens have some issues with Katz’s ideas. In a No To Amazon in NYC Facebook group, one member said that Queens residents fought against the BQX “not because of the cost, but because of the displacement it would lead to,” meaning Katz’s suggestion that Amazon cover the bill isn’t a solution to other community concerns.
“A private company paying for a public use transit line is asking for unregulated fares,” the post continued. “The city can hardly manage it’s current transit systems without a complete shit show of delays and train traffic. This is a prime example of how out of touch politicians are about these issues.”