Campaigns & Cases > Restore & Protect NYC Waterways > Flushing Bay: LaGuardia Airport AirTrain

Flushing Bay: LaGuardia Airport AirTrain

The proposed LaGuardia Airport AirTrain project would have taken away parkland from an environmental justice community and obstructed enjoyment of a waterfront park.


AirTrainSince Spring 2018, Riverkeeper has been watchdogging Port Authority’s proposal to construct a $2.4 billion AirTrain from Mets-Citi Field to LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York. The now scrapped project would have resulted in the use of Flushing Bay waterfront parkland along a 2,100-foot stretch of Malcolm X Promenade in the historically Black community of East Elmhurst, Queens.

The AirTrain proposal was lambasted by transit experts for its “two-seat ride” requiring a transfer and separate fare, its circuitous route that would have carried passengers first east of the airport to Citi Field and then back west, and the likelihood that its main function would have been to facilitate car traffic to new parking lots. An independent analysis estimated the AirTrain would have been the world’s most costly transit project per daily rider.

A project of this magnitude requires a credible and transparent environmental review process, including comparison of transit project alternatives. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Port Authority initially failed to do so.

On July 20, 2021, the FAA approved the Port Authority’s application to construct the elevated AirTrain. Two months later, Riverkeeper, Guardians of Flushing Bay and Ditmars Boulevard Block Association, Represented by the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, filed a petition in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to greenlight the LaGuardia AirTrain was based on an unlawfully biased decision-making process.

In early September 2023, we saw the results of our efforts when the FAA took the final step to scrap the Port Authority’s proposal to construct the AirTrain. Instead, Port Authority will follow an expert panel’s recommendation to invest $30 million in improving bus rapid transit.

We’re delighted to turn the page to a better, cheaper transit option – both for riders and the city – that allows for continued access to New York City’s waterfront.

Riverkeeper is committed to ensuring that any project receives the fair environmental review that the community and ecology deserve.

See our blog and press history on the topic here:

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