The plan for a streetcar connecting neighborhoods along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront has been in the works for some time, and now, the proposal’s main backer—the nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector—has unveiled a prototype of what the streetcar might look like.
At a press conference today at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Friends of the BQX showed off a life-size model of two BQX cars, which measures 46 feet long and close to nine feet wide. The $100,000 prototype was created by Alstom, a French firm that has previously been contracted for streetcar programs for Miami Beach and Toronto, among other cities.
The cars themselves are open gangway—a design that has yet to be rolled out throughout the New York City subway—and will have 23 seats, along with plenty of handrails. There are also a few “leaning bars,” similar to the ones found in the MTA’s recently revamped subway stations in south Brooklyn. Route maps didn’t offer specifics on station locations, but rather noted the neighborhoods the route would serve—from Astoria down to Sunset Park.
The choice of the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Monday’s presser was no accident; as the complex begins to welcome workers—its enormous manufacturing hub at Building 77 just opened to the public last week—stakeholders are pushing the BQX as a transit option for those commuting to the Navy Yard. (It’s currently served by several bus routes, but is a solid mile from the nearest subway.)
It’s no secret that the BQX has been facing some problems; there are questions about the project’s funding (which relies, in part, on a value capture model tied to rising property taxes—which itself has prompted questions about who the streetcar is actually being created for), as well as how the city will acquire all the land necessary to construct the whole 16-mile streetcar.
But the Friends of the BQX is hoping that the prototype will shore up support for the project. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is one stakeholder who’s throwing his weight behind the project; in a statement, he said that “the growth of our emerging job hubs is stifled by the severe lack of transit connecting them with our workforce. To be sure, there are key details that need resolution before this project can advance. I am confident that the City can work productively in a community-led process on issues such as route design, financing structure, and MTA fare integration.”
- All BQX coverage [Curbed]