Now that the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector has Mayor de Blasio's backing, both the yea- and naysayers are coming out of the woodwork to add their two cents. The reactions so far have been mixed, but leaning toward the optimistic: "Maybe a waterfront streetcar is an expensive antiquarian folly," writes New York's Justin Davidson. "But it's the kind of folly the city needs."
Davidson admits to being skeptical of the project, but notes that "even skeptics can be flexible," considering the possible benefits that the streetcar could bring about: increased access to the waterfront, for one, and whether that could lead to more housing (particularly affordable housing) in those areas. "The waterfront is still in the throes of transformation, and stitching it together with a streetcar gives the city a stake in guiding it, rather than just accepting whatever comes along," Davidson writes.
Fast Company went even further: "A project like this would mark a historic change in the city's very fabric, a paradigm shift that goes counter to the last century of transit policy," writes Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan.
But not everyone is on the fence: Ben Fried at Streetsblog took a decidedly harsher tone, saying that the project "doesn't add up." He points out that many of the proposed benefits—an easier connection between Brooklyn and Queens, transfers to other forms of transit, increased development along the waterfront—aren't quite as simple to implement as the project's backers claim, and that "the real estate doesn't need an extra push from a streetcar with poor connections to the subway."
Here's a B-Q streetcar deal that makes sense for public: City offers to make the entire route car-free, developers pay for it all directly— Streetsblog New York (@StreetsblogNYC) February 4, 2016
"Of course, streetcars would aid and abet the rampage of gentrification," Jim Dwyers writes in the Times, which published two (!) cautiously optimistic pieces: on an editorial, and the other a take for Dwyer's About New York column. "But they would also provide a chance at decent transit for more than 40,000 people who live in New York City housing projects that were built along the waterfront in the 1940s and '50s, when the area was an industrial zone that was about to die."
Other critics, including Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas, have made an excellent, and important, point: The streetcar wouldn't be a part of the MTA's transit system, so how would connections between it and New York City's subways and buses work? If not a free transfer, then what?
"The fare on the BQX will be the same as a single-ride Metrocard."— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) February 5, 2016
Does not say if a free transfer is included. Must have transfer.
· Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Will Get De Blasio's Endorsement [Curbed]
· Why the Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Is the Folly We Need [NYM]
· 4 Reasons a $2.5 Billion Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Doesn't Add Up [Streetsblog]
· A Brief History Of Streetcars In NYC [Fast Company]
· A Waterfront Route to Serve the Poor, Not Just the Wealthy [NYT]
· A Streetcar Ride to New York's Future [NYT]
· Thoughts on and reactions to the Brooklyn-Queens Connector [Second Ave Sagas]