Southeast Bronx Light Rail Proposal
Background and Rationale
New York City has a great subway system, one of the largest in the world, as well as connecting buses, ferries, and commuter rail, but transit deserts do still exist. Many are in less urban areas of the city, such as Eastern Queens, Western Staten Island, and the Rockaway Peninsula, but one large one is in the Southeast Bronx. The neighborhoods of Hunts Point, Soundview, Castle Hill, and Throgs Neck all have minimal to no subway service. In addition, bus connections are needed most of the time to connect to the subway, resulting in crush loading on buses. The way to solve this? A light rail line. It's cheaper to build than a subway and more environmentally friendly than a bus. This proposal outlines a modern light rail line that would run from the major commercial areas of the South Bronx, through Hunts Point to Soundview, where the line would split in two, with one branch going to Clason Point, and one to Throgs Neck. In addition to relieving capacity along the 6 train and countless bus routes, this line would also provide links to major commercial districts, and subways to Manhattan. The issue, however, is that building rail lines is expensive. Now, that is true, however this proposal has a few ways to mitigate these costs.
So, it's obviously a needed link in underserved areas, however, rail lines are expensive to build. This line mitigates this by using existing infrastructure wherever possible. For a good portion of the main line, existing bus lanes are used. All you have to do here is add tracks, and ramp up enforcement to make sure cars don't use said lanes. However, bus lanes aren't everywhere. Stroads kind of are, though - the Southeast Bronx is full of them. Stick some tracks in the middle, and boom, you have light rail. This combination of bus lanes and stroad diet covers most of the line, however there are some small stretches that aren't covered, namely two creeks that stand in the way of a line. For this, I say we use the European model of light rail, and integrate it into a park on both sides of the creek, with a new train-only bridge across the creek. Lastly, at the end of the lines, I propose to use existing infrastructure to create turning loops for the light rail trains. These would also be integrated into already existing parks. That covers all the infrastructure, so throw some modern light rail vehicles (such as the Siemens S70, CAF Urbos 3, or Bombardier Flexity) on the route, and you have yourself a convienent, modern, and green way to connect the Southeast Bronx.