Private company offers LaGuardia AirTrain alternative

Dec. 21, 2021
The three-phase proposal was sent to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, PANYNJ and MTA and designed with an eye toward enhancing NEC rail services.

A private sector company is proposing a way to deliver rail service to LaGuardia Airport and improve Northeast Corridor and Empire Corridor rail with higher frequency and higher performance service.

In a letter sent to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and shared with Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), AmeriStarRail proposes a three-phased approach that will eventually provide Metro-North passengers with direct connections to JFK and Long Island Rail Road passengers with direct connections to LaGuardia.

The three phases proposed are:

  • Phase 1: AirTrain LaGuardia express trains operating within the available track capacity of the N route from City Hall to Astoria where shuttle buses would connect customers to each LaGuardia Terminal.
  • Phase 2: Construct elevated tracks and two new stations to bring trains to each terminal at LaGuardia and utilize the same technology currently in use on AirTrain JFK.
  • Phase 3: Extend AirTrain LaGuardia over the Van Wyck Expressway to connect with the existing AirTrain JFK at Jamaica.

“AmeriStarRail’s AirTrain LaGuardia/JFK System will provide Manhattan and the New York region with a bigger, bolder, better way to finally bring rail transit service to LaGuardia Airport” said Scott Spencer, AmeriStarRail’s COO. “Trains are the most sustainable, climate friendly form of transportation. With the new AirTrain LaGuardia/JFK System, airport passengers/workers from the New York region and Queens communities along the route will have an innovative way to go easy on the environment and go by train.”

The original proposal to link LaGuardia via train called for a connection between New York City Transit Services and Long Island Rail Road at Mets-Willets Point, which critics labeled too expensive and questioned the estimated traffic reductions of the project.

In October, Gov. Hochul requested PANYNJ review alternative options for the project. PANYNJ named a panel of three transportation experts in November and tasked them with evaluating transit options to LaGuardia.

AmeriStarRail’s letter notes its proposal is the result of “significant time, effort and resources” and noted the company is available to discuss with stakeholders once the plan is analyzed.

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.