New LaGuardia Airport Traffic Plan In Effect For Holiday Weekend

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A plan to address congestion in and around LaGuardia Airport took effect Thursday after the airport’s ongoing renovation has snarled traffic.

Just in time for the busy Presidents Day holiday weekend, the Port Authority is rolling out the new plan that includes six days of free bus service to the airport from Jackson Heights and Woodside, Queens train and subway stations.

There is also discounted parking in a long term lot and free parking for passenger pick up in a cell phone lot.

The Port Authority said new ground transfer locations are also in effect at Terminal B and the taxi stand has been relocated for easier off-airport access.

For-hire vehicles and private car services will be able to pick up passengers in front of the terminal on the arrivals level.

Traffic outside Terminal B Thursday morning was moving, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported. Many drivers and passengers said the pick up and drop off have been seamless.

“Actually, it was pretty easy,” said traveler Scott Ball.

“I got here in 10 to 15 minutes from the Bronx,” said Uber driver Eddie Vargas.

Many had been bracing after the debacle last Friday that had traffic so jammed, people were climbing over medians and walking along the highway, hoping to catch their flights.

“We’re from North Carolina but we saw all of the news last week, but we were scared for this morning,” said traveler Cheryl Moore. “Because of that, we came out a lot earlier, but it’s not bad at all today.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits dismal delays last Friday at LaGuardia were largely caused by the ongoing construction for the $4 billion redevelopment project, his brainchild.

“We have a new team to come in a manage the airport better, logistically,” he said.

With at least four more years of construction at LaGuardia, Cuomo says he knows something has to be done about the massive traffic jams, noting that ride-sharing services have added even more congestion into the mix, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported. 

“And everyone expects that the car is going to be right in front of the terminal the moment that they walk out, right?” Cuomo said.

Cuomo didn’t offer specifics, but he did say his administration was working on a number of options.

“We’re going to need to reconfigure fundamentally how we do business there,” Cuomo said. “Because it’s not going to all fit.”

With about 300,000 people are expected to travel through LaGuardia Saturday, Sunday and Monday alone, officials are hoping to avoid a repeat debacle.

“I apologize for the congestion that was an inevitable byproduct,” said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. “It’s unfortunate people have to experience that.”

And while passengers are glad for any traffic relief, not everyone is happy to see these new traffic patterns implemented.

Cab driver Jana Stroe explains that because the airport has moved taxi stands farther west as part of the plan, it means more time for taxis to get to the terminal which ultimately means fewer fares and less revenue for them.

“What about our business with the taxi? We don’t make no money,” she said. “This is nonsense, what is happening in yellow cab business.”

But some believe even when construction is complete, a better long-term traffic solution is needed. The governor retweeted an article Thursday calling for more rail options, writing,”@LGAairport: the only major airport on the East Coast without a rail connection. That’s why we need Air Train.”

Due to an increased number of travelers expected this holiday weekend, the airport is advising passengers to allow extra time for parking, check-in and security.

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