January 23, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Almost one year after Vice President Joe Biden dubbed LaGuardia a “Third-World” Airport, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that New York would be committing resources to wrest LaGuardia from “Third-World” status to prominent “First-World” status.
The governor spoke at a breakfast forum hosted by the Association for a Better New York where he announced a series of public transit improvements, but the one project that got the most attention is the build-out of a 1.5-mile elevated rail link along the Grand Central Parkway that would give air travelers to and from LaGuardia for the very first time a rail connection. Cuomo said it would cost about $450 million and about five years to complete without specifying a construction date.
Air travelers from Manhattan will be able to board the 7 Subway Line or the Long Island Railroad in Penn Station and transfer to the AirTrain going to LaGuardia at Willets Point. While JFK’s AirTrain has been operating since 2003, the only mass transit options for commuters from Manhattan to LaGuardia is the M60 Select Bus Service that starts at 125th Street and just started service last spring.
Soon after the governor announced the AirTrain proposal, the Teamsters of Joint Council 16 in a statement praised the Governor for supporting the rail link. In an interview with George Miranda, Joint Council 16’s president, he said he was happy to hear the news but he hopes this time the AirTrain is actually built because there have been previous plans but construction never started.
“We’ve had these lofty ideas before and somehow they died on the vine or got caught up in red tape, but I was glad when our Vice President weighed in, for lack of a better term, by calling the airport a Third World airport [because] that woke up a lot of people. That statement by Joe Biden reverberated throughout the country; every newspaper and Internet outlet picked it up. With New York being New York and the economic engine that it is, LaGuardia should be a high-class environment both for travelers and workers. We’ve been screaming forever that it’s time to rehab LaGuardia. I’m glad the Governor recognizes that LaGuardia deserves its due,” said Miranda.
The Teamsters represent about 2,000 airport workers at LaGuardia and Miranda said the addition of the AirTrain and the current and proposed rehabilitation of LaGuardia Airport would obviously mean more employment opportunities for Joint Council 16 members.
“By building a state-of-the-art airport at LaGuardia, which is closer to Manhattan than JFK is, there’ll be new opportunities not just for our members but it’ll be great for concessionaire workers because they should be serving more passengers,” Miranda said.