Transit advocates are putting on a full court press to persuade Gov. Kathy Hochul to derail the $2.1 billion pet project pushed by disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo — building the controversial “wrong way” AirTrain between LaGuardia airport and eastern Queens.
The AirTrain would connect LaGuardia Airport to the Long Island Rail Road and the 7 subway train at Willets Point, near the Mets’ Citi Field and the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, home of the US Open.
But critics have questioned the logic of the route, which requires Manhattan-bound riders to first travel east — away from the island — before connecting to the subway and heading back west.
“The LaGuardia monorail is a big Cuomo- ego boondoggle,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.
“This is a zombie project that should be put to bed.”
Another transit advocate said simply expanding bus service between Manhattan and LaGuardia would get travelers around fasters.
“We have a proposal going back to 2015 for a free Q70 bus line, which would get people to the airport in a really short amount of time and at little expense to the MTA and no expense to riders,” said Riders Alliance spokesman Danny Pearlstein.
“A new governor in office is an opportunity for a total reset, and rethinking our priorities. There are other projects that the governor can choose from to ensure that we have a viable recovery across sectors.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also is against the project, which would run through part of her district in Elmhurst.
But the Federal Aviation Administration gave the project the green light in July though documents revealed that in 2019 FAA officials believed the route would prove to be slower than driving.
The Port Authority, which is pushing the project, is still run by Cuomo’s hand-picked executive director Rick Cotton and the PA’s Board of Commissioners are still packed with Cuomo appointees.
“Cotton will push this project until his last breath,” one source familiar with the deliberations said.
Hochul, through a rep, declined to state her position on the LaGuardia monorail.
“Governor Hochul is committed to a world-class airport and transportation network, and she is working with the Port Authority, community members, elected officials, and advocates to ensure transparency and robust engagement,” said Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays.
Sources said Cotton has spoken to Hochul about a list of PA projects in the works — including building a new Port Authority bus terminal and sprucing up JFK Airport as well as improvements at LGA airport as well as the monorail project.
The Port Authority defended the LGA AirTrain as a positive for passengers and the environment and said opposition was misguided.
“The Federal Aviation Administration, based on a thorough independent review, fully approved the AirTrain, which will create the first rail mass transit link to LaGuardia Airport. Opposition to rail mass transit that will get millions of cars off the street and reduce greenhouse gases without touching a single piece of private property at this time of climate change crisis is simply indefensible,” the PA said in a statement.