PANYNJ names panel to review LaGuardia AirTrain project

Nov. 17, 2021
The trio of experts will help PANYNJ in the review process and evaluate options to provide car-free connections to LaGuardia.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has named a panel of three transportation experts to evaluate alternative transit connections to LaGuardia Airport. PANYNJ describes the expert panel as “esteemed, world-renowned and independent transportation experts with regional, domestic and international experience.”

Their names – Mike Brown, Janette Sadik-Khan and Philip A. Washington – should be familiar to transportation professionals. Brown is a former commissioner of Transport for London and former managing director of Heathrow Airport. Sadik-Khan is a principal with Bloomberg Associates and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. She is also an expert in urban transportation policy. Phil Washington serves as CEO of Denver International Airport and is the former CEO of Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as the former CEO of Denver Regional Transportation District.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a rail connection linking LaGuardia Airport to New York City Transit services and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services at Mets-Willets Point. Critics said the proposal was too expensive and wouldn’t deliver on the promises to reduce car traffic.

In October, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she had requested PANYNJ review alternative options for the project – a move some called a death blow to the project and others viewed as a minor speed bump.

At the time of the request to review the project, Gov. Hochul said, “I have asked the Port Authority to thoroughly examine alternative mass transit solutions for reducing car traffic and increasing connectivity to LaGuardia Airport. We must ensure that our transportation projects are bold, visionary and serve the needs of New Yorkers. I remain committed to working expeditiously to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century and to create jobs - not just at LaGuardia, but at all of our airports and transit hubs across New York."

PANYNJ is making good on that request with the launch of the panel. Additionally, the port authority says Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be a key participant in the transit options analysis.

The panel and the port authority will analyze options that will provide:

  • Improved and expanded bus service, including potential for dedicated lanes;
  • Ferry service;
  • One-system rides including subway extension options;
  • Elevated guideway options including light rail from various LIRR and subway stops; and
  • Other new and emerging technologies that can be pursued and implemented in the near-term.

PANYNJ said additional options could be added based on input from stakeholders and experts.

The port authority said several criteria will be considered for each alternative including, but not limited to, constructability, construction and other local community impacts, customer experience and travel time, greenhouse gas reduction, impacts to existing transit networks and riders, improved airport access, project cost, the timeline to become operational, removal of cars from roadways, ridership and throughput capacity.

PANYNJ says a final report on the alternatives analysis will be completed “as expeditiously as possible” and made public.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.