The situation is ironic since transit access was a prime reason for Long Island City’s selection as one of two new employment hubs in the country, the other being Crystal City in Arlington, Va., across from Washington. Amazon estimates that as many as 40,000 workers will occupy the New York location in the next 20 years.
The easiest way to increase rail transit capacity in the area has recently been completed: installation of a modern, PTC-like train control system on the Flushing Line. That system enables subway trains to move at more frequent intervals.
Two other options on the table include a new Long Island Rail Road stop and a to-be-built light rail line.
An LIRR stop at Sunnyside would provide one-stop access to New York Penn Station, which is not offered by trains from the closer-in Long Island City and Hunterspoint Avenue stations, which only offer service to Jamaica, N.Y., and points east.
Perhaps the most intriguing transit option is the planned 11-mile light-rail Brooklyn Queens Connector which would connect Astoria Queens to the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn through Long Island City, connecting rapidly developing neighborhoods. It would add another mass transit option for the new workforce most likely to use it. The BQX would not be part of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but a New York City agency. There would be a stop a block away from the Amazon HQ2 offices, although operation is projected for 2029 at the earliest.
At this time, the MTA does not offer a subway or rail station less than a half-mile away, nor is it likely a new one would be built in the near future.
Despite all the construction likely to accompany Long Island City’s new build-out, a New York & Atlantic Railway spokesperson said the railroad is unlikely to see a traffic spike because of Amazon, not least because the nearest rail head is two miles away.