Once upon a time, above-ground street car lines rolled down many of Brooklyn's streets. Today, they are all gone. But in his State of the City speech on Feburary 4, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is going to throw his support to a proposal to build a modern street car that travels up the coast of Brooklyn and Queens, connecting the rapidly gentrifying Sunset Park neighborhood in South Brooklyn to the rapidly gentrifying Long Island City neighborhood in Queens.
The street cars, reports The New York Times, would travel on street level with traffic. The main selling point is that the line will cost just $2.5 billion to build—much cheaper than a subway. Currently, Brooklyn and Queens are connected by just one subway line traveling north-south (though a others few hit parts of both boroughs), from an era where the idea of travel between those boroughs was much less imperative, and the subway system was geared toward taking people to and from Manhattan and nowhere else. Today, as the populations of gentrified Brooklyn and Queens explode and those boroughs have become cultural and economic centers in their own right, more public transit connections are needed.
The designs—and the idea—come from a shadowy nonprofit called Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. It bizarrely and suspiciously doesn't have a website, but surfaced about a month ago with these very expensive-looking renderings and the initial proposal. Clearly, the group also had some ears in City Hall (perhaps because it came from within City Hall?). Regardless of the source, a new, welcome era in New York transportation might be upon us if the city can actually build this. May it be just the first one of many.