Transit Systems Brace For Overload As Amazon HQ2 Descends On New York, Virginia

Commuters in New York and Washington are bracing for an influx of 50,000 new Amazon workers over the next decade, after the company announced its decision to split its second headquarters (HQ2) between the two cities. 

While the New York regional subway, bus and commuter lines handle over 8 million people every day - the additional 25,000 Amazon workers planned for the company's Long Island expansion will put a specific strain on a system with an already-crumbling infrastructure, reports Yahoo!

"Congestion will get worse. Buses will probably get a little bit slower. There are going to be more people traveling at a specific time of day to a specific place," said University of Pennsylvania assistant director of city and regional planning, Eric Guerra. "But at the same time, they will create a lot of jobs where people are."

And while Amazon says that the two headquarters may take as long as a decade to staff, New York commuters are already preparing for the worst.  

Amazon, meanwhile, won the rights to a helipad at its Long Island location - albeit they are limited to just 120 landings per year to shuttle senior executives to work without having to commute amongst the plebs. 

"For the city and state to greenlight a helipad for the wealthiest man in the world and one of the richest corporations in the world is a slap in the face to all New Yorkers, but particularly the people in Queens who have to fight to get on the 7 train in the morning," said Long Island City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D). "And furthermore, if there were 25 to 30,000 Amazon employees in Long Island City, that fight to get onto the train is going to get a lot more intense."

Frustration levels already are high among New York City subway riders. More than a quarter of residents spend more than an hour getting to work, and 57 percent ride public transit to commute, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

A key subway line that runs through Long Island City has been often criticized for delays, though long-awaited upgrades to allow trains to run more frequently are on track to finish as soon as this month, and a new ferry connection to Manhattan opened in August. Still, Van Bramer insisted the area is not sufficiently well served, and there are complaints about noise pollution from helicopters and sea planes. -Yahoo!

"The entire city is in a mass transit crisis and nothing that I've seen about this deal makes me think it will help," said New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson at a Wednesday press conference. "Western Queens transit infrastructure is already strained and the 7 train in particular is a mess every morning, so this definitely adds to existing transportation concerns.

Others have panned warnings over the NY Transit system's impending doom. "Even as stressed as our system is right now, an investment in growth of this magnitude doesn't overwhelm the transportation network because it's such a robust and large system," said Tom Wright, CEO of urban research and advocacy organization, Regional Plan Association. 

Washington D.C. commuters, meanwhile, are equally if not more concerned about Amazon's expansion, as over a third of commuters in the nation's capital ride public transportation - most of whom spend at least 30 minutes getting to work, according to the Census Bureau. 

Washington, D.C.'s subway system, which will serve Amazon's headquarters in Arlington's Crystal City, is at capacity on many lines and has serious maintenance problems, said Tom Rubin, a transportation consultant based in Oakland, California. Repair work to the subway station closest to Amazon's new office resulted in a disastrous commute last week as people missed flights and stood in long lines for buses that never arrived, said Thomas Cooke, professor of business law at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. -Yahoo!

The D.C. metro system has had so many fires that a developer designed a Twitter account to automatically tweet suspected station fires, while things like elevators and escalators frequently have issues. 

"We have an embarrassing metro system here that I hope will benefit by this relocation," said Cooke, who notes that taxpayers - and not Amazon, will foot the bill for transit improvements that Virginia has agreed to implement as part of the deal. 

Amazon, meanwhile, won't pay a dime, given the 238 cities which were competing for those sweet, sweet jobs. 

"If anything, they're getting benefits out of it," said Guerra. "They're unlikely to be paying for new services."