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AirTrain JFK

AirTrain JFK
Type People mover
Locale connecting JFK International Airport to various points within Queens, New York City
Stations 10
Services 3
Daily ridership 11,384 (as of June 2006)
Opened December 17, 2003 (December 17, 2003)
Owner Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Operator(s) Bombardier Transportation
Character Elevated Rail Line
Rolling stock 32 Bombardier Innovia Metro vehicles
Line length 8.1 miles (13.0 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification ? V third rail
Highest elevation Elevated
Route map
Long Island Rail Road
toward Long Island
toward New York
Linden Boulevard
Rockaway Boulevard
Belt Parkway
Nassau Expressway
A trains
toward 207th Street
Howard Beach
toward Far Rockaway
or Rockaway Park
AirTrain Storage Yards
Lefferts Boulevard
Federal Circle
Terminal 1
Terminal 2
Terminal 8
Terminal 4
Terminal 7
Terminal 5
AirTrain system map

AirTrain JFK is a 3-line, 8.1-mile-long (13.0 km) people mover system and elevated railway in New York City providing service to John F. Kennedy International Airport. It is operated by Bombardier Transportation under contract to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the operator of the airport. The service operates all day, year-round.


  • History 1
  • Routes and stations 2
    • Station guide 2.1
  • Fares 3
  • Traffic 4
  • Rolling stock 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Two-car AirTrain seen from Terminal 4
An AirTrain at Federal Circle viewed from a car window
AirTrain viaduct over Van Wyck Expressway

The JFK Express, advertised as The Train to The Plane, was a premium-fare service of the New York City Subway, connecting Midtown Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport that ran from 1978 through 1990 via subway and then transfer to a shuttle bus. There had long been a desire for a rail connection to JFK Airport, which suffered from major traffic congestion on its access roads. However, efforts to build a system took time to bear fruit and the current AirTrain JFK is much smaller than what was originally planned. Plans included:

Ultimately, only the portions linking Jamaica and Howard Beach to JFK Airport were approved and built.

Construction of the AirTrain system began in 1998 and service was to begin at the end of 2002, but was delayed by the derailment of a test train on September 27, 2002, which resulted in the death of the train operator.[3] The system finally opened on December 17, 2003.

The $1.9 billion AirTrain system faced criticism from southeast Queens residents who feared the project could become a "boondoggle", especially after the derailment death. The Port Authority responded to residents' concerns by imposing strict rules regarding disruptive or loud construction activity and implementing a streamlined damage claim process which quickly compensated homeowners who suffered damage to their homes as a result of the construction.

The AirTrain was financed in part by a Federal Ozone Park residents.

The airlines subsequently withdrew from the lawsuit following negotiations with the Port Authority while the residents continued the legal battle, but lost in court. The Port Authority also contributed $100 million toward the renovation of Jamaica, with the state of New York paying for the rest of the $387 million project. The purpose of this renovation was, in part, to facilitate AirTrain connections. The state also spent $75 million to renovate the Howard Beach station, which brought it into ADA compliance and facilitated passengers' transfers to and from the AirTrain.

AirTrain JFK and the rest of the airport, like other Port Authority properties, does not receive subsidies from the state or city for its operating costs, which is one of the reasons cited for its relatively high fare.

The proposed Lower Manhattan – Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project would use the LIRR's Atlantic Branch to Downtown Brooklyn and a new tunnel to Lower Manhattan. This would provide faster service to JFK via a one-seat ride and Long Island Rail Road service to Lower Manhattan via a transfer at Jamaica (i.e. the same plan proposed by the RPA in 1999). Under this proposal, baggage could be checked in Manhattan and transferred directly to planes at the airport.

Routes and stations

AirTrain connects the airport terminals and parking areas with Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Subway lines in Queens. The system consists of three overlapping routes:

Before separating for their final destinations, the Howard Beach and Jamaica routes stop at Federal Circle for car rental companies and shuttle buses to hotels and the airport's cargo areas. Both routes make a counterclockwise loop through the airport and stop at each terminal.

  • The All Terminals loop is an airport terminal circulator serving the six terminal stations (Terminal 1, Terminals 2/3, Terminal 4, Terminal 5, Terminal 7, and Terminal 8), but operates in the opposite direction, making a clockwise loop. Connections to the Q3, Q10 and B15 local buses are available at Terminal 5.[4]

Station guide

All AirTrain JFK stations are fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), being wheelchair- and disability-accessible.

Station Lines Connections
Howard Beach[5]
  • Howard Beach Route
Lefferts Boulevard[5]
  • Howard Beach Route
Federal Circle[5]
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 1[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 2[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 4[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 5[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 7[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route
Terminal 8[5]
  • All Terminals Loop
  • Howard Beach Route
  • Jamaica Station Route

With the exception of Terminal 4, all AirTrain stations are outside the terminal buildings, sit on the other side of the terminal roadway from each building and are connected to their respective stations through elevated walkways over the roadway. The Terminal 4 station was built inside the terminal as it opened after AirTrain JFK.


AirTrain JFK is free within the terminal area, for transfers to/from the Q3, Q10, and B15 and to the hotel and car rental shuttle buses at Federal Circle. Entering or leaving the system at the Jamaica or Howard Beach stations requires that a $5 fare be paid (plus $1 for a new MetroCard, not charged for refills).[6]

The fare must be paid by MetroCard, which can be purchased from vending machines at Jamaica and Howard Beach with cash, credit card, or ATM card. One reduced fee option is the "30-Day AirTrain JFK MetroCard", which is $40 for unlimited rides, only on AirTrain JFK. The JFK-AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard costs $25 and is good for ten JFK Air-Train trips until midnight six months after first use.[7] This card is only accepted on AirTrain JFK; one trip is deducted for each use.[6]


AirTrain JFK carried 6,487,118 paid passengers in 2014, with another 10 million using the service for free on-airport travel. This is a 247% increase over 2004, the first full year of operation, when 2,623,791 riders paid. The 2014 paid ridership is 12% of the 53.2 million passengers that used JFK that year.[8]

Rolling stock

AirTrain JFK uses Bombardier Innovia Metro rolling stock and Advanced Rapid Transit (formerly Intermediate Capacity Transit System) technology. This system is identical to those used in the SkyTrain metro system in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the Kelana Jaya Line in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 32 individual (non-articulated) Mark II vehicles operating on the line draw power from a third rail and a linear induction motor pushes magnetically against an aluminum strip in the center of the track. The computerized trains are fully automated and operate without conductors or motormen.

The recorded announcements on AirTrain JFK are by New York City traffic reporter Bernie Wagenblast.[9]

See also


  1. ^ M.T.A. Proposes Rail Line to Link Major Airports, New York Times March 18, 1990 page 28
  2. ^ "MetroLink" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  3. ^ Tarek, Shams (October 4, 2002). "Following AirTrain Accident, A Community Mourns". Southeast Queens Press. Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  4. ^ a b c "JFK Airport AirTrain". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  6. ^ a b "Cost and Tickets - AirTrain - Ground Transportation - John F. Kennedy International Airport - Port Authority of New York & New Jersey". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Governor Cuomo Announces AirTrain JFK Reaches Record High Ridership in 2014, February 12, 2015
  9. ^ "The World's Biggest Forum for Telematics Industry Leaders". Retrieved 2011-03-16. 

External links

  • Port Authority's official AirTrain JFK web pages
  • Complete system specs from Bombardier website
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