I was pleased to see that Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley has come out in favor of restoring passenger service on the west end of the Long Island Rail Road's Montauk Branch, which actually goes from Jamaica to Long Island City. I took a Long Island Rail Road train along this once, years ago, when they still ran passenger trains. It was pointless except for a railfan experience: there was one train a day in each direction, and it went nonstop to Jamaica.
I'm not sure how light rail would coexist with the freight trains that still use the Branch, but with the Federal Railroad Administration making it easier to run lighter trains, there should be some relatively cost-effective way to run frequent service along the line, not only to the Atlas Park Mall in Glendale, but to Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood, Forest View Crescent, Forest Park, and Hillside Avenue in Richmond Hill.
There is one change that I would strongly recommend at the western end that would make a huge difference in the value of the line. The old passenger service terminated at the old Long Island City station in Hunter's Point, which was once really convenient when it was served by frequent, massive ferries to Manhattan. Now it is a relatively long walk to the East River Ferry, which runs every twenty minutes, or a similarly long walk to the #7 train at Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, which is crowded at rush hour. You could move the station closer to Vernon-Jackson, but then it would be further from the ferry, and vice versa.
Instead of using the old Long Island City terminus, the passenger trains should use an existing flyover that crosses the Sunnyside Yards. This part of the Yards is currently being used as a staging area for the East Side Access project. There is room to build a two-track line along the north side of the Yards, terminating at a new station under Queens Boulevard. This would bring passengers one short block from the Queens Plaza subway station where they could change for the E, M or R trains.
For a light rail train, it might be possible to build another stop at Pearson Street, a block from Court Square. Depending on what gets built along Northern Boulevard, it might also be possible to extend the train east to 48th Street, Woodside Avenue or even Broadway. But regardless, the line should go to Queens Plaza. It would give residents of Ridgewood and Glendale better access to jobs and better connections to Manhattan.