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New Proposal Calls For Inter-Borough Train Connecting Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Transportation advocates hope New York City's next mayor will take a fresh look at a bold idea -- creating an inter-borough train that would link Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

The proposal calls for the train to come out of the Bronx over the Hell's Gate Bridge, tower over parts of Queens and run below street level through the heart of Brooklyn – a little-used freight line that could have a very busy future, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

The Regional Plan Association calls it "Tri-Boro RX."

"Makes it easier for people to interconnect among all these neighborhoods in the city," said the association's Jeff Zupan.

The existing freight line that runs from Hunts Point to Bay Ridge would be used for new commuter rail service. One estimate has it carrying 80,000 passengers a day.

"What this does is create a rail line, a transit service that has transfer points with bus lines and with subway lines throughout the three boroughs," Zupan said.

Zupan said the line could easily connect major transit hubs, including Astoria-Ditmars, Broadway Junction and Kings Highway.

Brooklyn straphangers who looked at the plan said they liked it.

"I've had to go from here to the Bronx and it was a long ride, a long ride. If they could use that rail line, modify it, work it out for the convenience of passengers, I think that would be a great idea," said Ellis Washington of Flatbush.

But critics say it would be quicker and cheaper to link the three boroughs with a bus rapid transit system.

Others said they fear commuter service on these tracks would interfere with plans to dramatically increase freight traffic by building a freight tunnel linking Bay Ridge and Jersey City.

"This is done elsewhere in the country, where freight trains and passenger service co-exist," Zupan said.

Zupan said he wants to pitch the plan to the next mayor, hoping he -- or she -- hops on board.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the Tri-Boro RX plan presents a number of challenges, including funding, but the agency is open to hearing more about the idea.

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