After a post-storm experiment, M.T.A. considers express-bus service from Brooklyn to LaGuardia

LaGuardia Airport. (Dana Rubinstein)
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The M.T.A. is thinking about creating a fleet of express buses to carry Brooklynites to LaGuardia, according to M.T.A. chairman Joe Lhota.

"Why not have an express bus from downtown Brooklyn to LaGuardia Airport?" he said in a recent interview. "We should do that. We’re talking about it internally."

After Hurricane Sandy knocked the city's subway service off-line, the M.T.A. and city transportation department created a so-called "bus bridge" to transport commuters from Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Lhota says the bus bridge demonstrated the viability of Barclays Center as a bus hub.

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"I haven’t talked to the folks at Barclays, but what a great place to tell people to go to," said Lhota. "Eleven different subway lines come into place there, you can bring your luggage on the subway from south Brooklyn, come to Barclays Center, and then say, every hour on the hour, we’ve got a bus leaving to go to LaGuardia Airport.

The M.T.A. is considering other locations, too.

"You can do it from Midtown," he said. "You can do it from upper Manhattan. You can do it from from lower Manhattan. And how about one from Jamaica, as well, an express bus or [Select Bus Service] bus that goes from Jamaica to LaGuardia Airport."

"If you're on the west side in New York, the fastest way to get to LaGuardia would be get on the Long Island Railroad," Lhota continued. "In nine minutes you’ll be in Jamaica and you’ll take an express bus and you’ll be there very fast. We do need more of that."

Right now, cost-conscious commuters heading to and from LaGuardia Airport have few palatable options aside from regular New York City buses, which are slow and, on some routes, unreliable.

LaGuardia is the only big airport in the metropolitan region to lack some kind of rapid transit.

In October, the M.T.A. and the city's transportation department announced that they would be creating three "Select Bus Service" lines to speed up the commute to LaGuardia: one along the existing M60 route, one from Woodside and Jackson Heights, and another from Webster Avenue in the Bronx.

But Select Bus Service, New York City's version of bus rapid transit, isn't actually all that rapid.

What the M.T.A. is trying to do with the LaGuardia buses, as Lhota described it, is to run them express to the airport from easily accessible locations in the city, with few stops in between.