(Bloomberg) -- The AirTrain project to LaGuardia Airport is set to become the world’s most costly transit project per rider, according to a new report by government watchdog Reinvent Albany.
The LaGuardia AirTrain project that was championed by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will cost at least $2 billion, the group said in the report. The $345,900 per rider price tag represents nearly double the transit construction costs of the Second Avenue Subway build out, the group said.
The Second Avenue Subway line across Manhattan’s Upper East Side from 63rd to 96th street brought in 30,847 new daily riders -- net 2016-2019 declines at nearby stations. The group said it expects that the AirTrain project will carry fewer than 6,000 net transit trips a day and is expected to double the capital based on 2026 net daily riders.
“The LaGuardia AirTrain will stand alone as the world’s most expensive transit project per rider if Governor Hochul allows the Port Authority to proceed with the Cuomo-era project,” the group said in the report released Friday, referring to Governor Kathy Hochul, who took over when Cuomo stepped down in August. “Experts believe the current Second Avenue Subway was the most costly transit project ever built, but the LaGuardia AirTrain will be about twice as expensive, when comparing construction costs to daily ridership.”
The project intended to provide a faster link between Midtown Manhattan and the airport and allow travelers to avoid traffic that leads to and from the airport.
Jon Orcutt, a former New York City Department of Transportation official who authored the report, said any transit built to connect to LaGuardia will be utilized but the route raises concerns that people would still drive to one point then hop on the train.
“That model is not a high ridership model,” Orcutt said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey refuted the data that the report relied on and said the ridership levels the group used were one-fifth of the 10 million annual riders projected based on passenger surveys. The ridership numbers presented by Reinvent Albany are “breathtakingly wrong,” it said in an emailed statement.
Last month, the Port Authority told Bloomberg News it was committed to building the LaGuardia AirTrain after some staff members urged officials to put the brakes on the project.
(Updates with Port Authority comments)
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