From Ozone Park to Rego Park there sits unused LIRR (Long Island RailRoad) train tracks that have not been used in over 5 decades. These tracks are now rusted, with huge trees that have grown on the rail beds. The city owns this space. Despite the desire of some to turn this into a trailway, momentum has been growing to reactive these abandoned tracks. The original Rockaway Beach LIRR carried trains from Penn Station and split off from the main LIRR at Rego Park. The trains then went to Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways. In the 1950s a disatrous fire burned the wooden trestle going over Jamaica Bay. As a result the LIRR abandoned the Southern part of the Rockaway Beach LIRR. Robert Moses, a man not known for his love of public transportation, had the city take over the Southern part of the Rockaway Beach LIRR. It was connected to the A train, and from that point on Rockaway residents took the A train from Southern Queens, through Brooklyn, and into Downtown Manhattan. They lost direct train service to Northern Queens and Midtown that the Rockaway Beach LIRR provided. Service from the Rockaways to Penn Station was once 35 minutes. On the A train service to midtown Manhattan is at least an hour and one half and often it takes the A train longer to get to Midtown.
The Rockaways are the longest beach front in Queens. Not only that, nearby in Broad Channel you have Jamaica Wildlife Refuge. Leaving these beautiful areas so difficult to access for many New Yorkers in and of itself is bad. But then there's the economic issues. The A train passes near JFK airport, where it connects to the Airtrain to JFK. The Airtrain is an automated train service that directly services JFK airport. It connects to the A train at Howard Beach and the E train at Suphtin Boulevard in Jamaica. Those connecting to the Airtrain at Howard Beach would have much faster service to and from the Airport if the Rockaway Beach LIRR were completely reactivated with direct LIRR service from Penn Station to the Rockaways. Not only would the airport be better served, but Resorts World casino would be better served as well. Resorts World Casino is the highest grossing casino in North America and it is poorly served by transit because of the long way the A train takes to get there. Riders from North Queens and Midtown Manhattan would greatly benefit from Rockaway Beach activation as they'd have quicker train service to the airport, to the casino, and to the beaches. With better train service to these areas, developers could build more hotels near the airport and casino. Other businesses would follow, and the Rockaway renaissance would undergo a major expansion. The city council just recently held a hearing on how to deal with New York City transit deserts . Transit deserts are parts of NYC that lack good public transportation options. One way of dealing with these transit deserts would be to reactivate abandoned railroads like the Rockaway Beach LIRR. Momentum is building up on Rockaway Beach LIRR activation, however activists need to keep up the pressure until this is fully bunded. John Samuelsen, head of the transportation union TWU 100 estimates that his workers could reactivate the Rockaway Beach LIRR in only 7 months.