Rally calls for the reactivation of Rockaway Beach train line

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Borough residents held a rally Sunday to demand the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line, an LIRR train that left the station in 1962 for the last time and took riders from Penn Station in midtown Manhattan to Ozone Park, Rego Park and across Jamaica Bay to the Rockaways.

Efforts are underway to reactive the 3.5-mile north-south transit corridor parallel to Woodhaven Boulevard, a project that would cost about $700 million. Originally the LIRR line extended south to Rockaway. A fire severed the line in 1950, and the section between Ozone Park to the Rockaway was converted to the A train subway line.

“It would be an amazing ride,” said Phil McManus, president of the Queens Public Transit Committee, an advocacy group for better transportation. “People just know it’s common sense to open this rail again.”

McManus pointed out the price tag for reactivating a rail line that a recent Queens College study said would attract 500,000 commuters “is half of what the new $1.4 billion Fulton Street station cost just to put a hole in a roof.”

The borough is now divided between those who support the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach LIRR line and those who want the construction of a High Line-style park known as the Queensway on the abandoned tracks .

“I am opposed to the park-only idea,” the transit advocate said. “We are not closed to the idea of the park because the railway can be shared.”

During Sunday’s rally, backers of reviving the beach line collected signed petitions at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard as well as over by the Queens Center Mall. “It was great,” he said. “More people than expected showed up.”

McManus said U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Hakeem Jeffreies (D-Brookyn) and other elected city and state officials support the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line.

On the other hand, the QueensWay project has the backing of U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Grace Meng (D-Flushing), and other local officials.

“The Rockaway Beach Line will unite us, while the QueensWay plan will continue to divide us,” McManus said.

But the QueensWay supporters said that, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority, the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach LIRR “is not a feasible option because of the extraordinary cost of building it.”

A spokesman for the Friends of the Queensway added, “When the facts are presented, the overwhelming impacts and drawbacks associated with rail reactivation are obvious.”

For the promoters of the High Line-style park, their plan “is the best and only way to maximize the quality of life and economic development benefits that will be realized when this property is adaptively reused for the community.”

But the reviving of this line, according to McManus, will also increase property values in the surrounding areas.

“We need to expand the transit system in Queens,” he said. “Property values will explode.”

The Queens Public Transit Committee also called for the elimination of unnecessary bus transfers, the elimination of the Cross Bay Boulevard bridge toll, faster bus service and steps to improve the subway system.

“We are trying our best to get this done,” McManus said.

Updated 12:23 pm, November 20, 2014
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Reader feedback

Jime from Woodside says:
Fair to say the park plan will for the most part benefit those in the adjacent communities. The train plan has the potential to benefit the entire city. There is no fast way to get to Rockway without without having to deal with traffic congestion and thus avoiding it.
perhaps people in Rockway need to weigh in on this.
Nov. 20, 2014, 1:42 pm
Eric from Howard Beach says:
The current quality, quantity and condition of roads in the vicinity of Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards cannot sustain the amount of traffic every day. The area has grown tremendously in the last fifty years. Reactivation of the LIRR is not the only solution but the most viable.
Nov. 23, 2014, 5:07 pm
Danny Ruscillo from Rockaway Park says:
You state weigh in on it! Reactivating this rail line is a no brainer not just for Rockaway but for all of Queens. I'm getting so tired of hearing of a High Line styled park, this idea will not solve our transportation problems. We know you see the need for the rail why fight it....
Nov. 24, 2014, 3:27 am
Philip McManus from Queens says:
The New Queens Crosstown (QRBL) to Midtown Manhattan will save time and money. Saving money creates more money and economic activity. Jobs, higher incomes, higher property values and more business opportunities, increases tax revenues without increasing taxes.
Imagine saving one hour each day for 20 years. That's a lot of time and money.
The train will bring more people and money together faster. You can see your family, friends and neighbors faster. It's cleaner, faster and more efficient to take a train especially during rush hour.
Our city is bigger and better because of our transportation system. We want our city to have the greatest transit system in the world but we need to focus and do a better job. We need to invest more in transportation and we will then get more.
We need to wake up and stop getting in the way of faster transportation. It's inevitable... we must expand our transit system or we will choke and die.
The new Queens Crosstown, the (QRBL) is good for us. Please support our movement. We need you.

Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee
Faster transportation will create more social, economic, recreational, and environmental opportunities.

Rockaway Beach Rail Line
Queens Public Transit
Rockaway Beach Branch

Rockaway Beach Line

Rockaway Branch Line blog
Rockaway Branch Line Mission Statement
Queens Public Transit

Please support the following petitions:
Ferry - Weekend Service
Queens Rockaway Beach Line
Q 52 Bus
Station Agents
Metro North Station in Queens
Nov. 26, 2014, 10:06 pm
Emily December from Woodhaven says:
As a resident of Woodhaven for practically all of my 23 years of existence, I need now more than ever more transportation options. I sometimes would have to wait at Woodhaven and Atlantic Avenue during bad weather or congested rush hours for a less crowded bus, forget about an empty bus. I cannot afford the express bus that goes down the corridor and the Q24 nearby is horrendous. Most of the time I am forced to walk over ten minutes to the J train, where I face street harassment before I reach the station or on the train. Plus, on crowded buses I have been groped multiple times, and seen men expose themselves to women and get away with it. So, the QueensWay not only will support the few (I really mean few- over 50% in the community asked for the RBL in the Queens College study) with "caviar taste" but also the potential spike in crimes on crowded modes of transportation. They only care about the welfare of few. Over 500,000 will be able to use the railway (hopefully it is used as an AFFORDABLE light rail option) if it is reinstated. Listen to the working class for once and not to those who think private funds and meetings and those with access to cars can speak for me and others. I will not allow it.
Nov. 27, 2014, 2:04 pm
Martin J. Ingram from Breezy point says:
The QRBL makes sense for all of Queens and New York City. This abandoned train track if re activated will allow people from all over the city to enjoy the beaches of Rockaway throughout the entire year. It will help create jobs and open doors for commerce in the Rockays that was previosly isolated from a lack of transportation and unnecessary bridge tolls. This abandoned track is located in an area that is already over serviced by parks such as Forrest Park. Let's do the right thing and help improve the transportation network that will help all of Queens and New York City.
Nov. 27, 2014, 6:55 pm
stanley schulman from rockaway park says:
Restoring the missing 3 1/2 miles of the old Rockaway Beach line makes so much sense that one can only wonder why this piece was lopped off and the tracks from Rockaway gerrymandered to connect with the A at Euclid Avenue. It certainly created a route that take the long way around.
Nov. 28, 2014, 2:55 pm
Mike Scala from Queens says:
As responsible citizens, we have a duty to consider the course of action that will benefit the most people. The Rockaway Beach Line will enrich hundreds of thousands of lives. Indeed, the Queens College study revealed the reactivated line could produce up to 500,000 daily rides. By contrast, those who live close to the line already have access to plenty of parkland. This is a no brainer. Improving the public transit system by making use of the area's only north-south rail corridor is the most prudent investment.
Dec. 2, 2014, 12:19 pm
Frederick Lewis from Far Rockaway says:
The reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Train Line will be the beginning of improving the poor transportation system in the Rockaways. It will afford the forgotten Rockaway Peninsula to become a part of the "main land".

The reactivation of the train line will definitely improve the quality of life for Rockaway residents. It will afford a community that has been viewed as the "dumping ground" for Homeless Shelters and Nursing Homes, lack of adequate Health facilities, Failing Education System, High Unemployment and severe infrastructure issues, the opportunity for better Economic, Environmental and Social activities.

It is time that the Rockaway Penisula be recognized as a part of Queens and New York City rather than a 3rd World Country.
Dec. 6, 2014, 7:24 pm
James Trent from Bellerose says:
The cost of reactivating the Rockaway Beach line has to be put into perspective. It cost something like 1-1/2 billion just to connect the 63rd Street line into the Queens Boulevard line. Over a billion was spent extending the #7 train to the Javits Center. For $700 million we get 3-1/2 miles of rail line. It's a bargain and will improve the geometry of the mass transit system and access to it for all New Yorkers.
Dec. 6, 2014, 7:53 pm
Mike Michaels from Flushing, NY says:
Mr. McManus is correct - there's room for rail and park However, so many more will benefit from rail restoration making that option so attractive.

No matter what plan is endorsed, a significant amount of rebuilding is in order so the park people are dramatically underestimating what their plan would cost.

On a per rider/money spent ratio, the Rockaway Branch Line is a better buy than the Fulton Center which cost more and would be used by fewer people in comparison.

State Controller DiNapoli thinks the RBL is a worthwhile and cost-effective expansion of our transportation system.

In addition to all this, the park plan cannot compare to the High Line in Manhattan as the HL is fed by visitors/patrons from the Meatpacking District/art galleries and no such thing exists along the ex-rail line. The patronage by locals using bicycles is over dramatized and misrepresented.
Dec. 6, 2014, 9:14 pm
Moshe from Flushing says:
At one time, when the Rockaway Beach Branch was in operation, it was approximately 35 minutes from Rockaway Park to Penn Station, 25 minutes from Howard Beach, 20 from Woodhaven, and 15 minutes from Rego Park

Today, many residents of these areas suffer through daily commutes of well over an hour, perhaps closer to 90 minutes, to midtown Manhattan.

The Rockaway Beach Branch right-of-way (the new Queens Crosstown) is the only north-south train line in the area. It intersects the A, the LIRR's Atlantic Branch, the J, the Montauk Line, the LIRR's Main Line, and terminates within walking distance to the R/M Queens Blvd. lines.

Reactivating this transportation TREASURE as part of the subway system, LIRR, or light rail would reduce congestion and pollution in the Woodhaven Blvd. corridor. It would also provide TENS of THOUSANDs of NYC residents with a much more expeditious commute to school and work. As we know, time is money. The extra half hour to 40 minutes currently spent commuting means a greatly diminished quality of life and lost productivity.

Restoring this rail line would raise property values, increase revenues, and CREATE JOBS!

I submit to you that if we all worked together, we could have both a TRANSIT OPTION and a park along the right-of-way, while minimizing any impact to ROW homeowners!

The time to act is NOW! Reactivate the Rockaway Beach Branch/the Queens Crosstown!
Dec. 6, 2014, 10:47 pm
Glenn DiResto from Rockaway says:
The Queens Way Park is a beautiful Idea. However, re-opening the Rockaway Line of the LIRR is a MUCH BETTER Idea. It would provide ALL the residents of Queens and the City with fast accessible transportation. Those who live in the areas serviced by the Rockaway Line would be able to commute back and forth to work in about half the current time. Every New Yorker in the City would be able to finally access Shopping in Queens, JFK Airport, Resorts World Casino and the Beaches of Rockaway with ease. It would open a transportation corridor from South Queens to the middle of Queens and create endless economic opportunities for the forgotten borough. The ease of Transportation will make the areas of Queens serviced by the Rockaway Line more desirable to live, improving economic opportunity and property values. The significant housing development and a growing population of Queens make the need for the Re-opening of the Rockaway Line a no brainier. To put a park on this right away would be a travesty considering most of the areas of Queens close to the proposed Queensway already have Forest Park and with the continued growing population of New York City and Queens the need for additional Park space is not as crucial as the need for faster and accessible transportation. Many say if you are opposed to the Queens Way you are against the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. I cannot think of any better way to reduce air pollution and fight traffic congestion than re-opening the Rockaway Line. It would cut the use of vehicles along the Woodhaven corridor by providing people with better transportation alternatives. As we all know traffic congestion causes CO2 emissions to be spewed into the air, polluting our environment and neighborhoods. Many say it will take years to build. Well any major infrastructure undertaking takes careful planning and many years of construction to come to fruition. Look at the 2nd Ave Subway, the extension of the #7 train and the LIRR East Side. All these major undertakings are huge projects and take time to complete, but in the long run will make our city a much better place. Many say who is going to pay for it? Well just like any other major infrastructure project, the re-opening of the Rockaway Line would not be funded by one single source. This project could be funded just like many of the other large capital improvement projects around the City. This project would be a partnership between the Feds, State and City. The Federal Transportation Administration, The City of New York, State of New York and the MTA could all chip in to make this a reality. Selling bonds is another way a being able to pay for the Rockaway Line that would only be fraction of the cost of any of the major MTA projects I mentioned above. We must never forget that we ALWAYS have to invest in our future and the Rebuilding of the Rockaway Line is a way to do it.
Dec. 6, 2014, 11:58 pm
DannyRuscillo Again from Rockaway Park, NY says:
Phil is correct the QueensWay plan will continue to divide us, but the reactivation of Rockaway Beach rail line will put a great form of transportation in place for all in Queens. Just like the Rockaway Ferry (BEFORE OUR MAYOR TOOK IT AWAY) which was a reliable and a fast mode of transportation, the Rockaway Beach rail line would serve many in the same manner fast, safe and also reliable. Just think of how many people a day woul utilize this rail....
Dec. 7, 2014, 4:31 am
carol mcevoy from rockaway park says:
Southern Queens residents deserve and demand better transportation. We pay our city taxes at the same rate yet our transportation is deplorable and inefficient! It is a challenge and time consuming to get anywhere off the Peninsula. We deserve and demand better transportation. The QRBL is the answer to connect southern Queens with northern Queens, Manhattan, and even Long Island. Due to real estate development, southern Queens' population has exploded. Public transportation has not kept pace. Putting additional busses on an already congested Woodhaven Blvd is not the answer. The A train takes you through Brooklyn to get to Manhattan and has been rated one of the worst in the system. We demand and deserve better. The Rockaway Ferry has been discontinued. Another stab in the back. If i sound discruntled....i am. A Rockaway resident for 40 years and have seen no improvement in my commute. It's gotten worse: NO FERRY, OVERLY CONGESTED ROADS, A ONCE EXPRESS BUS IS NOW A LIMITED,
We deserve and demand better more efficient public transportation. The QRBL is a giant step in the right direction.
Dec. 7, 2014, 9:13 am
Sal Albanese from Bay Ridge says:
I have many friends in the Rockaways & spent a lot of time there when I ran for Mayor & I am shocked at the lack of transportation options. It truly is a transportation desert. It desperately needs the Rockaway Beach Line to be reactivated. Additionally, ferry service should be immediately restored. It's time City Hall treat the area fairly.
Dec. 7, 2014, 1:06 pm
carol Mcevoy from Rockaway Park says:
Thank you for your comment Sal. As an outsider to our community you saw first hand how deplorable our transportation options are!! When our new Mayor was late for a very important event in did he get here???? Did he come by the A train. Did he come by the Q53. Did he come by car over Woodhaven Blvd???? NO! HE CAME BY BOAT OVER JAMAICA BAY!!!! Just pointing out a truly FAST, EFFICIENT way to get to our Peninsula. If the QBRL were running, HE COULD HAVE USED THAT. Enough said!!!
We deserve and demand better transportation
Thank you for listening.
Dec. 8, 2014, 11:21 am
Allan Rosen from Sheepshead Bay says:
The City is trying to push Woodhaven Blvd SBS as the alternative to the Rockaway Beach Line reactivation when all that would do is to tie up traffic worse than it is now during rush hours by reducing the number of traffic lanes for cars. Bus riders only benefit marginally.

What we need is a cost/benefit study of all the alternatives including Queensway to determine how many benefit the most from each alternative and the cost of each.
Jan. 2, 2015, 9:50 am
Brendan Read from Belmar, New Jersey says:
I used to live in Richmond Hill and I can appreciate the need for better transportation to shorten the commute, to provide more access to jobs, and to attract much needed economic revitalization especially to the Rockaways.

Restoring the Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) is the most viable way of accomplishing these goals by providing much shorter journey times than the Woodhaven SBS while drawing transit-oriented development (TOD); few investors will trust fancy bus lanes that can be painted over. Moreover the RBL will improve transit without interfering with traffic, unlike the SBS that threatens to cause traffic nightmares by removing general vehicle lanes. The RBL also will improve access to JFK Airport, which is a vital economic generator to Queens and to the New York as a whole, enabling companies to locate and do business here; it is our “port to the world”.

Unfortunately the QueensWay has been presently designed at the expense of the RBL, which will deny residents, struggling communities, and the economy the benefits of the RBL. If the QueensWay is built it will cost hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars more to construct a future rail line than it would be to restore the RBL, which means there will never be good mass transit south of Queens Blvd. And contrary to the claims of some QueensWay supporters the RBL has never been properly studied. There has been no equivalent to the very thorough studies that preceded the 63rd St. Connector, LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, or the Second Avenue Subway projects, which included alternatives analysis of transportation modes and routes.

I also know that there is a need for more parkland, but it should not come at the expense of not having the RBL. Can we have both parkland and the RBL? The answer is yes. This too needs study. There are many options, such as a greenway at the foot of a restored or a new berm; Vancouver, Canada has an extensive greenway system with its rapid transit network. Or the RBL can be built in a trench north of the LIRR Montauk Branch with the greenway above it, but the additional costs should come from parks rather than transportation budgets.

The RBL supporters I’ve talked to have expressed willingness to consider rails with trails. Would the QueensWay backers be willing to come to the table and see how we can make this into a constructive win-win rather than a destructive and divisive win-lose proposition?
Jan. 3, 2015, 4:46 pm
Jim Cashin from Belle Harbor says:
Rockaway is the most isolated part of NYC. We need better transportation like the RBL. The population is growing with the new developments here such as Arveren by the Sea,which is expanding to include a public school.The MTA must meet the needs of all residents in NYC,including the Rockaways and Broad Channel.Reactivation of the RBL would allow for more economic development,and meet the needs of the growing population of Rockaway. Forest Park is one of the largest Parks in NYC,which includes a golf course and wide open spaces. Let us work together to reduce traffic congestion and allow a viable alternative to so many who have no direct transportation link to NYC. I firmly believe that we need to expand mass transit in all of NYC,to reduce car traffic and allow for a cleaner enviorment.
April 13, 2015, 9:07 am
Matt Whalen from The Raunt says:
The time has come for the New Queens Crosstown Express. When this 3.5 mile section of track was closed, their were far less cars on Queens Blvd., Cross Bay Blvd/Woodhaven blvd.. That is no longer the case, all of the mentioned roadways are now choked with cars at all hours of the day and night spewing pollution on all of us.. Jobs are now harder to find than ever. Re-activation of this line will promote business and growth to ALL area's that it serves. Let's re-unite Queens with this rail line, let's create new jobs and businesses, let's get Queens residents back on track. This railway was built to last 100 years (many older MTA lines are still in use today). It was built with tax payer's money and now it just sit's there rusting. It is listed as "IN-ACTIVE" NOT "ABANDONED". This means that it can be "MADE ACTIVE" AT ANY TIME !
April 13, 2015, 11:19 am
Barbara Berg from Belle Harbor says:
the Rockaways has the poorest public transportation options in the city. The ferry line was a godsend while it was operating. it enabled Rockaway residents to get to Manhattan and Manhattan residents to visit the Rockaways. both boroughs benefited. opening the rail line would enhance the transportation around the city and unite the boroughs.
April 13, 2015, 11:26 am
Rick Horan from Rockaway Beach says:
The Queens Rail System (QRS), formally known as the old Rockaway Beach Line, will be an integral part of the public transportation system in Queens.

Using a more inclusive name is essential for people to begin looking at this project for what it is, a valuable transportation asset for the entire borough.

One thing we can all agree on, we need more viable mass transit options more than we need another park. Besides, Queens Rail can take us to one of the most beautiful places in all of New York City, Forest Park, which is currently under utilized.
April 13, 2015, 6:37 pm
Laura DeckelmN from Far Rockaway, Queens, NY says:
The Rockaway Beach Line should be reactivated in order to improve Rockaway's current public transportation to and from Manhattan. The transit options available to us - subway and bus - are unreliable, do not offer direct routes to Manhattan, and are way too time- consuming. The RBL would offer a direct route to and from Manhattan through Queens and cut commuting time. (The only other transportation option that offered a direct route between Rockaway and Manhattan was our ferry, which we lost last Oct. 30.)
The Rockaway Peninsula is virtually a transportation desert. We are isolated and far from other parts of NYC. The RBL would close the transit gap. So many Rockaway residents are utterly miserable with the way things are transportation-wise. We need the RBL we need our ferry. We need better transit options
April 13, 2015, 10:16 pm
Schmutzy from Bayswater says:
A spokesman for the Friends of the Queensway added, “When the facts are presented, the overwhelming impacts and drawbacks associated with rail reactivation are obvious.”

To the spokesperson: Can you please furnish even 1 affect and drawback as you allude to in your comment? Or is it obvious?

*shake my head*
April 14, 2015, 9:45 am
Dean from Howard Beach says:
Reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Line is BADLY needed. As much as I like select bus service, it will make traffic MUCH WORSE on Woodhaven & Cross Bay Blvds than right now. Reactivating the line can relieve traffic on those boulevards & save time for everyone, drivers & riders alike. I never understood why Queensway gets support. How could that be a priority? Reactivating the line not only takes cars off the road, but also increases access to Resorts World Casino/Aqueduct Racetrack, JFK Airport, and the Rockaway beaches. More jobs will be gained from all this. MTA must aggressively get this project starting.
April 14, 2015, 8:21 pm
Philip McManus from Rockaway Park, Queens says:
Dear Friends,

Please resend on social media.

Woodhaven Boulevard Select Bus Service / Bus Rapid Transit will hurt thousand of commuters with longer more congested roadways that will take your time, freedom and prosperity away.

City Hall and NIMBY politics refuses to restore our train the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the new QueensRail to our borough.

The Queens Public Transit Committee will have a transportation rally at each of the following DOT Woodhaven Boulevard SBS/ BRT Workshops. We also encourage you to attend the workshops and ask questions and add your ideas and suggestions including the QueensRail.

We believe removing numerous traffic lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard is a inferior and divisive plan and that restoring the unused train tracks on the new QueensRail is the best plan that unites and helps all the people of Queens and the region.

See below workshops.

Please tell people to join our rallies with posters promoting QueensRail, (Queens Rockaway Beach Line) and faster transportation.

This is another opportunity to show unity, strength and recruit new friends and groups to our transportation movement.

Woodhaven Blvd from Union Tpke to Rockaway Blvd
Thursday April 16, 6-8pm
PS 306 – NYC Academy for Discovery
96-16 89 Avenue
Woodhaven, NY 11421

Woodhaven Blvd from Queens Blvd to Union Tpke
Thursday April 23, 6-8pm
Queens Metropolitan High School
91-30 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11366

Cross Bay Boulevard
Wednesday April 29, 6-8pm
PS 146 – The Howard Beach School
9801 159th Avenue
Howard Beach, NY 11414

The Rockaways
Thursday April 30, 6-8pm
PS 42 – The Robert Vernam School
488 Beach 66th Street
Arverne, NY 11692

Please RSVP, Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee
Faster transportation will create more social, economic, recreational, and environmental opportunities.

Rockaway Beach Rail Line
Queens Public Transit
Rockaway Beach Branch

Rockaway Beach Line

Rockaway Branch Line blog
Rockaway Branch Line Mission Statement
Queens Public Transit

Please support the following petitions:
Ferry - Weekend Service
Queens Rockaway Beach Line
Q 52 Bus
Station Agents
Metro North Station in Queens
April 14, 2015, 8:32 pm
Reactivation of the Rail line is a no brainer! Instead of goofing around with a "New" bus line that only makes more pollution and traffic,, let's get started on laying tracks and revamping the old existing platforms... We can get some local criminals that need to do some community service work,to walk the line and pick up all the trash, cover over ugly graffiti and gang tags, and make it look really decent.. Queens already has plenty of Parks to walk your dog, or play frisbee in... And maybe the people who have been ENCROACHING on the Railroad Right of Way all these years,,Should have to kick in some rent money for using the property instead of bellyaching about another park we don't need! .. Remember: the Right Of Way is INACTIVE ,,,, it's NOT ABANDONED!... (Psssst! That means it can be REACTIVATED at any time!) .. Hey,, you bought property near a Railroad line,,What did you expect?.. *DING-DING* ALL ABOARD!
April 14, 2015, 10:55 pm

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