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Biden: You’d Think LaGuardia Was In Some Third World Country

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – LaGuardia Airport is one of the busiest, but it is no secret that it is not exactly a favorite for travelers.

But on Thursday, even Vice President Joe Biden put the airport on blast, saying it looks like one that might be found in a third-world country.

As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the vice president used the airport to highlight the need for greater investments into infrastructure nationwide.

“If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2 o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said ‘where do you think you are?’ They’d say ‘this must be America, it’s a modern airport.’ If I took him blindfolded and took him into LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think you must be in some third world country. I’m not joking,” the vice president said in his remarks.

Watch VP Biden’s Comments Here:

He then went on to push for better infrastructure, including on the rails.

“Why did we lead the world economically for so long? We had the most modern infrastructure in the world,” said Biden.

The vice president made his remarks from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, which is serviced by Amtrak. Biden is well-known for taking Amtrak from his home in Wilmington, Del., down to Washington during his decades in the U.S. Senate.

“The Vice President is exactly right to call attention to the need for modernization at LaGuardia and all of our airports,” Global Gateway Alliance Chairman Joseph Sitt said Thursday. “But we are not in the business of finger pointing; we’re in the business of investing in our airports and making sure they reflect our world-class city and region. It’s why we need all of our federal, state, and local partners to make investing in modernizing our outdated airports a top priority.”

Passengers who spoke to CBS 2 Thursday night were split on Biden’s statement.

“I think that’s probably a little bit of a harsh overstatement,” said traveler Stefanie Groner. “I haven’t really had too many problems at LaGuardia.”

But traveler Silas Reed said the airport needs an overhaul.

“Everything here is outdated, the technology is way behind, way behind the curve,” he said. “They need to do something about it at this point.”

On Thursday night, CBS 2 found dirty and crumbling walls at the airport. But it just so happens that help is on the way to turn the rundown Central Terminal Building, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday night.

“Significant investment in transportation infrastructure is the key to growing our economy and creating jobs, which is why the Port Authority this week proposed a 10-year $27 billion capital plan that creates more than 126,000 jobs and invests $8 billion in modernizing the region’s airports,” the Port Authority said in a statement. “We are fast-tracking efforts that have lagged for more than a decade and investing $3.6 billion through an innovative public-private partnership to build a new Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport that will provide passengers with a world-class terminal.”

Airport advocate Stephen Sigmund said the improvements can’t come soon enough.

“It needs modernization in order to relieve the delays, and in order to function, really, as the kind of world class airport that it ought to be,” said Sigmund, of the Global Gateway Alliance.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not have a response to Biden’s comments Thursday night. But his office noted that he had addressed LaGuardia, as well as John F. Kennedy International Airport, in his State of the State Address on Jan. 8.

“New York’s airport system is one of the busiest in the world. JFK and LaGuardia airports are major economic engines for the New York City region, but they are consistently rated among the worst airports in the country in terms of design and overall passenger experience,” the governor’s office said last month. “Governor Cuomo proposed steps to upgrade these two major gateways to the state, including assuming management responsibility for airport construction from the Port Authority to ensure these critical transportation hubs are modernized efficiently and quickly.”

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