Former Cuomo official to Hochul: stop LaGuardia AirTrain

A top ex-Cuomo Port Authority official is urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to derail the controversial $2.1 billion LaGuardia Airport AirTrain project pushed by her disgraced predecessor.

“My advice to Hochul is to kill the project. It would be a good fresh start for her if she killed the AirTrain,” former Port Authority Commissioner Ken Lipper told The Post.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Lipper as commissioner to the Port Authority of New York governing board in 2013. The then-governor didn’t reappoint Lipper to the board when his term expired in 2018.

Lipper said the disagreement over the LGA AirTrain was a factor in Cuomo not keeping him on the board.

“This project is worse than an embarrassment. It’s a waste of precious resources. It’s a boondoggle,” Lipper said.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Lipper as commissioner to the Port Authority of New York governing board in 2013.
James Messerschmidt

He said the PA has more pressing projects needed to be completed to help residents in the region — including building a new bus terminal in Midtown and fixing the Hudson River tunnels.

Critics question the logic of the route, which would require Manhattan-bound riders to first travel east — away from the island — before connecting to the subway at Willets Point and then heading back west.

A federal review uncovered by environmental group Riverkeeper argued that LaGuardia passengers would get to the airport faster if they took a cab or drove.

One transit advocate study claimed the LGA the monorail will generate just 6,000 new transit riders per day and become the most expensive transit project per rider ever.

A rendering of the proposed LaGuardia airport AirtTrain Rail Link.
A rendering of the proposed LaGuardia airport AirtTrain Rail Link.
A Whole New LGA

Lipper agreed, saying a direct taxi or Uber ride from LGA to midtown takes about 20 minutes.

He said the AirTrain could require passengers to make three trips — including in many cases a transfer to another train to get to their destination when they reach Manhattan.

“This doesn’t work as a transportation project. It was a Cuomo project, not a Port Authority project. The Port Authority never identified AirTrain as a need. It wasn’t justified,” Lipper said.

Hochul is still reviewing the AirTrain project.

“Governor Hochul is committed to a world-class airport and transportation network, and she is working with the Port Authority, community members, elected officials, and advocates to ensure fiscal transparency and robust engagement,” a spokesperson said.

The Port Authority defended the AirTrain, noting the Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the project — though environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the FAA for allegedly ignoring alternatives.

“The Biden Administration’s transportation experts greenlighted the badly-overdue LaGuardia AirTrain after reviewing more than 25,000 pages of studies and other materials, and analyzing more than 40 alternatives,” a PA spokesperson said.

“This green infrastructure project will give travelers a reliable and affordable rail mass transit link to the airport; provides an affordable transit option for workers who commute there every day; dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by getting millions of cars off the road; greatly ease traffic congestion throughout Queens; create 3,000 good-paying construction jobs and more than $500 million in opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses; and provide $50 million of historic new funding for local parks, all without taking any private property or going through any neighborhood.”

Twelve former city and state transportation head and MTA chiefs back the LGA AirTrain including former city DOT Commissioners Lucius Riccio and Elliot Sander, and former MTA boss Thomas Prendergast.

Lipper, a former financier at Lehman Brothers and Solomon Brothers, founded his own investment firm Lipper & Company. He went through a rough stretch of lawsuits after a top aide to his company was convicted of fraud.

He’s the author of the book “Wall Street” and was a technical adviser to Oliver Stone’s first “Wall Street” movie. In 1999, he won an Oscar for “The Last Days,” a documentary about the Holocaust that he produced with Steven Spielberg. He also served as then-Mayor Ed Koch’s deputy for economic development.

Hochul, the former lieutenant governor, replaced Cuomo as governor, when he stepped down last month an investigative report by state Attorney General Letitia James concluded he sexually harassed current and former staffers.