Ask any Staten Islander how the rest of New York City views the oft-forgotten borough, and more often than not, the answer is last and least. The MTA, according to residents of the Island, is no exception.
One week after the traveling fare hike hearing circus hit the road and made its way through the City’s four other boroughs, Staten Island is getting its day in the sun on Tuesday. And despite recent announcements of expanded service along the Staten Island Railroad, the Island’s residents are not happy, to say the least.
Over the weekend, The Daily News noted that Staten Island residents are more than annoyed with the MTA. Because of ongoing construction on the Verrazano Bridge, residents are dealing with constant traffic and extra-long commutes. As it is, Staten Island has no underground connection to the rest of New York City, and residents are feeling more neglected than usual. People who live in New Jersey and Long Island get home sooner is a popular and not inaccurate refrain among Staten Islanders.
While Pete Donohue’s piece in The News scratched the surface of the Staten Island problem, two recent editorials in the Staten Island Advance show the underlying animosity between Staten Island residents and the MTA. The first dealt with the expanded SIR service. In it, the Advance notes that MTA CEO and Executive Director Elliot Sander is the first MTA head to show any interest in Staten Island in a long time. The second is more critical:
Maybe it’s just coincidence that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority scheduled Staten Island last in its series of required public hearings on the proposed fare and toll increases. You probably won’t persuade many Staten Island commuters of that, however. They’re used to this borough’s transportation needs being at the bottom of the MTA’s list of priorities.
The first five hearings took place last week around the city and the region. The hearing here will take place Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Michael J. Petrides Educational Complex, Building C. Maybe it’s a coincidence, too, that the hearing is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. That’s a time of the evening when home is still an hour or more away for many commuters who live here.
The early start time leads to the suspicion that the MTA really doesn’t want to hear what Staten Islanders think about the fare and toll hikes. As a matter of fact, if the past is any indication, a handful of second-tier MTA officials will show up at the hearing, listen with barely concealed boredom to riders’ complaints about fares and service, then leave promptly at a pre-designated time before everyone’s had a chance to be heard.
Yikes. Talk about a vendetta.
For Staten Islanders, though, this is a legitimate problem. The only road connecting their island to the rest of the city is a bridge to Bay Ridge. Otherwise, a railway and ferry provide access to Manhattan, but commute times can be painfully long.
Over on Subchat, a few good contributors are engaged in a long dialogue concerning the subway and Staten Island. One contributor suggested looking into extending the 1 train or the Second Ave. Subway to Staten Island, but that’s a multi-billion-dollar project that wouldn’t see the light of day for decades. In the meantime, express bus service may be the Island’s last good hope.
No matter the solution, when the fare hike hearing arrives on Tuesday, the MTA will face some bitter Staten Island residents. Bitter over the fare hike, bitter over the poor transportation options, bitter over ongoing bridge construction, these New Yorkers may just put up the strongest fight yet against the MTA’s fare hike proposal. That is, if the transit officials don’t talk everyone to sleep in the first 45 minutes of the meeting.
Poor neglected Staten Island indeed. Don’t forget that they started a tunnel to S.I. in the early 1920s that was never finished . . . would be a good idea to extend that out as originally planned, and connect with the SIRR.
[…] warned ‘em but to no avail. Yesterday, the MTA board members — or at least those who decided to show up — […]