Hope for connecting The Bronx directly to Queens and Brooklyn via the Interborough Express is revived

A decades-long dream to connect The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn directly by a subway or rail was derailed last year when Governor Kathy Hochul dissed The Bronx by mandating that the Metropolitan Transit Authority begin an environmental review for the Interborough Express but only to connect Queens and Brooklyn.

Proposed stops on the Interborough Express with only Brooklyn and Queens being considered/Via Governor’s Office

As originally proposed decades ago, the then Triboro Rx line would’ve spanned 24 miles stretching from Co-op City in The Bronx down to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn without having to go through Manhattan and thus connecting millions of residents.

Now, the New York State Assembly appears ready to right this wrong with yesterday’s release of their recommended changes to Executive Budget for 2024-25.

Rendering of a station along the Interborough Express/Via MTA

According to the Assembly Budget Proposal SFY 2024-25 for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Assembly modifies, “…the Executive appropriation of $68 million for feasibility studies for the Second Avenues Subway — Western Expansion and for the Interborough Express (IBX) project, by including a requirement that the MTA also study the feasibility of connecting the IBX to the Bronx.”

Excerpt from the recommended changes by the NYS Assembly to the Executive Budget/Via NYS Assembly

When the announcement was made last year that The Bronx was to be left out of the study, many bemoaned the typical lack of foresight and willingness not to think big by the state when it comes to such potentially transformative projects that almost always do not include the borough.

While we are getting four new Metro North Stations in the East Bronx that will connect residents straight into Penn Station as well as points north into Westchester and Connecticut, the borough has been clamoring for easier access into Queens and Brooklyn for decades.

Manhattan may be the traditional core of New York City but more than 50% of jobs created in the city since 2014 have been in The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn—which happen to be home to over 6 million residents that accounts for roughly 75% of New York City’s population—all of who do not have a direct connection other than buses and cars.

The original 24-mile, Triboro Rx line as proposed by the Regional Plan Association/Via RPA

A true Interborough Express connecting the three boroughs would connect dozens of subway lines and several rail lines as well that would provide a seamless connection for millions.

And yes, let’s face it, it would be far more transformative of a transit project that would have a far greater impact on the majority of residents than the Second Avenue Line which is exponentially more expensive due to the fact that the tunnels have to be dug which, when the second phase is completed, would have a price tag of well over $10 billion for just a handful of new stations.

The Interborough Express, with dozens of stations, has been estimated to cost a fraction of that due to its proposed construction along existing rail lines.

If this budget is approved as is, it is imperative that our elected officials fight to make sure it gets done because it isn’t about can it be done but do our elected officials have the political will to spend the necessary monies from our tax dollars that will actually benefit us.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.