LaGuardia Airtrain project is a proposed elevated railway line between LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Willets Point on the existing Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

It links the airport with  LIRR stations and No 7 subway at Mets-Willets Point in Flushing, Queens, US.

To be operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the link will provide an easy-to-use rail connection and offer reliable travel times for travellers and employees of LGA.

The $450m Airtrain project forms a part of the ongoing $8bn redevelopment programme of the airport.

The environmental review of the AirTrain LGA project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2019. Construction of the project is expected to be started in 2020, while the link is scheduled to become operational in 2022.

Airtrain LGA is estimated to handle approximately 6.6 million trips a year in 2025 and 8.4 million by 2045.

Need for LaGuardia Airtrain project

Visitors at LaGuardia Airport rely on congested roadway transportation as the airport currently lacks reliable mass transit options. An estimated 50% of LGA passengers travel to and from Manhattan and more than 25% to and from Midtown.

The airport forms a vital element of New York’s transportation infrastructure and requires other modes transport that offer travellers safe and efficient commutation to and from the airport.

LaGuardia Airtrain link will allow for quick trips taking less than 30 minutes to travel between the airport and New York Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal. The project will also provide rail access to the airport from Long Island via the LIRR and the MTA’s 7 subway line.

The project will also accommodate an off-site parking facility for employees to alleviate the shortage of parking space in the airport. Parking will be situated within walking distance of AirTrain station.

LaGuardia Airtrain project details

LaGuardia Airtrain link will be a 2.4km-long line between the airport and the existing LIRR and NYCT subway station at Willets Point.

“LaGuardia Airtrain will serve as an on-airport transit system, which will facilitate transfers between airline terminals and connect to other parking facilities at the airport.”

The project will involve the construction of up to two AirTrain stations at LGA’s new unified terminals and the system’s elevated guideway.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on building a new station complex at Mets-Willets Point, which will allow easy transfers between the LIRR or 7-line and AirTrain.

LaGuardia Airtrain will serve as an on-airport transit system, which will facilitate transfers between airline terminals and connect to other parking facilities at the airport. It will also connect with LGA’s new terminals B and C.

AirTrain will allow drivers to benefit from restructured rental car operation at Willets Point and use the new parking facilities.

The travel time from Penn station in Manhattan to Willets Point is 16 minutes on LIRR direct service. It will then take six minutes to reach the airport. Passengers can also travel through 7 Line Subway system and transfer at Willets Point to board AirTrain.

Contractors involved

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded a contract to WSP (formerly Parsons Brinckerhoff) for the preliminary engineering and designing of two new AirTrain stations at LaGuardia Airport’s new unified terminals in May 2017.

WSP will also construct an AirTrain station at Mets-Willets Point, as well as the system’s elevated guideway.

The firm will also carry out a detailed ridership analysis and identify suitable financing plan for the AirTrain project. It will also be responsible for evaluating expanded parking and centralised car rental operations at the new Willets Point station complex.

PMA consultants provided a programme-level conceptual estimate and main schedule for the project.