History has told us that construction of any major new transportation system expansion project has taken decades between the time of all the feasibility studies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting, identifying and securing funding and opening day service.
Virtually all of these issues would also apply to reopening the old Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach branch line. And don't forget the logistical and operational issues of running any LIRR service parallel to the existing subway line to the Rockaways. Construction thru the Jamaica Bay wetlands will also provide challenges.
Restoration of service along the LIRR Rockaway branch, also known as the White Pot Junction Line, was abandoned in the 1950s. This route started off as a spur from the LIRR mainline east of Woodside and connecting to the A line subway near Aqueduct Race Track.
There are local community divisions along this route between those wanting to convert this corridor to a permanent park with hiking trails versus restoration of LIRR service.
Will existing bus and or subway commuters want to pay the higher fares charged by the LIRR? Riders would still have to pay twice when transferring from the LIRR to the subway at Atlantic Avenue, Woodside, Penn or Grand Central stations.
LIRR service to the Rockaways would at a minimum be considered Zone 3 just like other Queens neighborhoods. Current fares for Zone 3 riders are $210 for a monthly or $67.25 for a weekly pass. You can imagine how much more these fares would be years or even decades later when passenger revenue service is finally introduced.
Any additional new LIRR service to Penn Station, which would include restoration of the old Rockaway branch, has other issues to contend with. There is little room to run additional trains into or out of Penn Station during either a.m. or p.m. rush hours.
Three of four tunnels running inbound a.m. and outbound p.m. rush hours have very tight spacing between trains. Penn Station is currently operating at 100 percent capacity during both a.m. and p.m. rush hours until the new LIRR Eastside Access project is complete.
But both Amtrak and Metro North Rail Road have their eyes on any potential new capacity which might become available at Penn Station to use for their own respective services.
At the end of the day, introduction of limited stop bus routes from two-fare zones to the nearest subway station, expansion of express bus service into Manhattan, creation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and subsidies to support ferry service may be the best bet for residents looking for new transportation options.
All three have already been proven successful. Any could be implemented far more quickly than any restoration of old LIRR services.