The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. Thank you to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for holding this hearing on this critical project for the City and State’s economic future.
REBNY is in full support of the proposed LaGuardia Airport (LGA) AirTrain. Before us is a real opportunity to finally address a major shortcoming in our ability to easily connect local, national, and international travelers through LGA with all that New York City has to offer. As we rebuild our economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to provide a reliable and sustainable means of transit to LGA.
Our members are proud to have built world-class office space that houses businesses of all types from major global tenants to up-and-coming start-ups. New York City’s role as a global capital can only continue if we make it easier for visitors to want to come and do business here. The fact that LGA is the only major airport in the New York City region that is not accessible directly by rail runs counter to our collective efforts to ensure New York remains a hub of commerce. When built, the AirTrain will provide less than 30-minute trips between LaGuardia and Manhattan’s central business district hubs such as Penn Station and Grand Central. The impact of tourism for small businesses and the hospitality industry is paramount to our long-term economic recovery, and reliable infrastructure such as this is key to our collective efforts.
In AirTrain LGA, we have an opportunity to rebuild our economy through new jobs created locally. This project will provide opportunities for thousands of union construction jobs. An efficient rail link that connects to the Long Island Railroad and subway system also expands jobs at LGA by ensuring easier access from every borough.
Providing this much needed rail service will also play a tremendous role in our City’s commitment to encourage public transportation and keeping cars off the streets. It is estimated that approximately 99 percent of passengers access LGA via surface roads and streets. Accessibility by rail will decrease significantly the volume of cars on the roads in this region of the City. The proposed AirTrain will reduce traffic congestion near the airport, which contributes to long access travel times and delays for local residents traveling home during peak hours. With ridership projected between six to 10 million rides per year, we can expect thousands of cars off the Grand Central Parkway and our local roads every day.
The New York real estate industry will always have a long-term view of our City and State’s success. We must make critical investments like the LGA AirTrain if we want to continue to prepare for our future and keep New York an economic driver for years to come.