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Editorial: A one-seat ride to JFK? Better late than never

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Just weeks before the AirTrain is scheduled to begin taking passengers from Howard Beach to Kennedy Airport, we learn that American Airlines would be willing to open a major hub at the airport, if only the AirTrain might offer a one-seat ride.

This fall the AirTrain will begin carrying riders to Howard Beach where they will transfer to a subway that will take them to Manhattan. Eventually the AirTrain will take passengers to a subway transfer point in Jamaica. But that’s as far as the futuristic AirTrain will go right now.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said the airline is would consider making a major investment in the Queens airport, creating more than 1,500 new jobs if the AirTrain could be extended to midtown Manhattan.

From the time that the AirTrain was first proposed, we argued repeatedly that it was a mistake not to establish a one-seat ride from Midtown to both New York City airports. Although independent mass transit experts agreed with our position, the Port Authority pushed ahead with a plan that required a change in Jamaica. To win support of Queens officials, the Port Authority argued that the AirTrain would bring economic revitalization to downtown Jamaica.

Before going further, we should say that we have been impressed by the construction of the overhead rails on which the AirTrain will run. It is rare to see such a major public project finished ahead of schedule. In addition, there are signs that the promised revitalization of Jamaica is well underway.

It is our understanding that it is still possible to extend the AirTrain all the way to Manhattan. This would require replacing the existing cars with cars that can run on Long Island Rail Road tracks. Sure, it’s frustrating to talk about replacing cars that are still brand new.

The shortsightedness of the original AirTrain plan will cost New York taxpayers millions of dollars. But as Meeks has pointed out, not making the AirTrain a one-seat ride could eventually cost the metropolitan area billions of dollars.

Meeks is hoping to get New York’s two senators to join him in his fight to get the funding to bring the AirTrain to Manhattan. We are pleased to see powerful political leaders taking up the cause. But we wonder where they were when the train was still on the drawing board. Oh well, better late than never.

Editorial: One year later

One year after the attack on the World Trade Center, we have come to understand that there is no closure. The wounds have not even begun to heal. The anger has subsided, but it still exists just beneath the surface of our existence, ready to explode at any moment.

The people of New York have endured incredible pain with strength and a courage that have inspired the world. In a very brief span of time, Queens lost 41 firefighters and three police officers. There is nothing sadder and nothing more moving than the funeral of a firefighter who has given his life to save others. But in the year that has passed the drums and bagpipes have sounded more times than the heart can bear.

On the anniversary of 9/11, our heart goes out to all Queens families who lost loved ones at the World Trade Center. We salute the men and women who worked tirelessly for months digging through the rubble looking at first for survivors and later for the remains of fallen heroes. And we salute the citizens who found the courage to keep moving forward, refusing to be defeated by the hateful act of madmen.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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