Press Release Article


Date: Dec 17, 2003
Press Release Number: 165-2003

Ushering in a new era in aviation innovation, New York Governor George E. Pataki today marked the centennial of the first powered flight by dedicating the Port Authority’s state-of-the-art AirTrain JFK system at the AirTrain JFK Terminal at Jamaica, after riding the first train from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Jamaica with local officials and Port Authority executives and staff.

“More than 30,000 people a day are expected to use the AirTrain system at the start, making it the second most heavily used airport access system in the nation. This means fewer cars on the road, less traffic and less air pollution,” Governor Pataki said. “The building of AirTrain also created thousands of construction jobs as well as more than 100 permanent jobs right here in Queens. We promised to get a rail connection to JFK built after nearly half a century. And today, on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, we say, ‘Promise made, promise kept.’ I congratulate all those who made this decades-long dream a reality.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “Last year, we welcomed 35.3 million visitors to New York City including a record number of domestic visitors, who generated $21 billion in economic activity. Most of them arrived via JFK and LaGuardia airports. The inauguration of AirTrain JFK service ushers in a new era in the growth of New York City’s aviation industry. It will ensure that travelers have the option of a quick, easy and affordable way to get to their New York City destinations and then back to the airport. And it follows on the heels of the historic agreement we reached in October with the Port Authority, an agreement that put Kennedy and LaGuardia airports on the sound financial and administrative footing worthy of these vital entryways to the world’s greatest city. AirTrain JFK is now a part of New York City’s future and I’m confident it will be the engine that helps drive the economic revitalization of Jamaica, Queens, New York City, and the entire metropolitan region.”

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks said, “Access to JFK Airport has long been an issue for travelers and employees. Air Train JFK solves this problem. More importantly, it links the country’s premier international gateway with the nation\'s largest commuter rail line – the Long Island Rail Road. It can move people through southeast Queens and connect them to the world’s most important economic center, Manhattan, or with the scenic coastal lines of Long Island.”

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said, “Our hope is that today’s inaugural AirTrain JFK ride from Jamaica – one of our borough’s transportation hubs – marks the beginning of what will be a very popular way for thousands of travelers to get to Kennedy Airport without facing heavy traffic and long delays. Clearly, our expectation is also that this train will also carry Jamaica towards a new resurgence in economic activity and growth.”

Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “Governor Pataki and Governor McGreevey have made it a hallmark of their administrations to enhance and improve our region’s transportation infrastructure through public investment, and today’s opening of AirTrain JFK once again underscores their dedication and commitment to this vision. We expect AirTrain JFK to provide the same fast, reliable service to travelers and employees at Kennedy Airport as its counterpart, AirTrain Newark, has provided for more than two years at Newark Liberty International Airport.”

Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “We can measure the value of AirTrain JFK in a variety of ways. It will reduce traffic and save millions of people countless hours that otherwise would have been spent sitting in highway traffic. It has been an economic engine from the day we broke ground about five years ago, creating 4,150 construction jobs that generated $580 million in wages and $980 million in construction-related sales. In addition, more than 125 permanent jobs have been created – most of which are held by local Queens residents. And we expect this project to continue to have a positive effect on the local economy in Southeast Queens, where revitalization already is taking place.

“It’s also important to note that AirTrain JFK represents a significant part of the $9.4 billion renaissance that has been underway since the 1990s at Kennedy Airport. This unprecedented redevelopment program, with a record investment by the Port Authority and its partners in the private sector, has delivered numerous improvements and enhancements, such as new terminals, new parking garages and a more efficient roadway system.”

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “AirTrain JFK is just the latest example of the many transportation improvements the Port Authority has recently completed. Earlier this year, we reopened PATH stations at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and Exchange Place in Jersey City, N.J. We also have completed E-ZPass Plus, which allows people to pay for airport parking with their E-ZPass tags; deck rehabilitation at the Outerbridge Crossing; and a new signage program at the George Washington Bridge.

“Many people are responsible for AirTrain JFK. On behalf of the entire agency, I thank our governors and Board of Commissioners for their leadership; the men and women of the Port Authority for their dedication; the Federal Aviation Administration, our Congressional delegation and our community leaders for their support; and the many agencies that participated in the project: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Long Island Rail Road, New York City Transit, the New York State and New York City Departments of Transportation, the Air Rail Transit Consortium, which includes Slattery Skanska, Bombardier and their partners, and the Jamaica Terminal contractors, Perini/Tudor Saliba.”

Regular passenger service on AirTrain JFK begins at 2 p.m. today, and the entire system is free to all passengers until 12:01 a.m. Thursday, December 18.

Passengers on AirTrain JFK will continue to use the system, free of charge, to connect between the airline terminals, rental car facilities, hotel shuttles, and on-airport parking. Beginning Thursday, service connecting to the subway, Long Island Rail Road, local buses, and the street at the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations will cost $5 for a single trip. Monthly passes offering unlimited trips will cost $40.

The AirTrain Terminals at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station will enable airport passengers and employees to make more than 1,500 fast, easy, convenient and reliable connections every day between the airport and the A, E, J and Z subway lines; Long Island Rail Road trains; and buses. Service from Penn Station in Manhattan to JFK’s terminals is projected to take less than 45 minutes; the trip from midtown Manhattan to JFK can presently take more than two hours by car or taxi during high-congestion periods. The 8.1-mile light-rail system is expected to serve 34,000 passengers a day at the start.

Construction of the $1.9 billion system used no state or federal taxes. Its construction was funded through a combination of Port Authority funds and revenue from an existing $3 surcharge on departing passengers at the New York City airports under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Passenger Facility Charge program.

Additional AirTrain JFK information is available at

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport;

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