Since the MTA eliminated fare-collection agents on the Staten Island Railway as a cost-measure in the 1990s, the agency has seen its SIR-related revenues dry up. That will change tomorrow when the agency begins collecting fares at Tompkinsville as part of a $6.9 million program designed to turn around the SIR’s money-losing ways.
For years, the SIR has been unique among the city’s transit options. The MTA has collected fares at only the St. George Ferry Terminal and the Staten Island Yankees’ ballpark stops. Tompkinsville is but a half-mile away from the northern end of the line, and many customers are more than happy to hoof to avoid paying the fare. The MTA launched this project in 2008 with an eye toward completing it during the summer of 2009, but tomorrow — a few months late — the free ride will end.
As part of the Fare Collection Project, the agency has beefed up the Tompkinsville stop. Riders will now have a station house in which to wait as well as turnstiles to serve as the fare gates, cameras for safety and enforcement efforts, and fare vending and communications equipment. The agency says this move is expected to bring in approximately $702,000 annually, a 15 percent increase in total SIR fare revenue and will cut the estimated $3.4 million in operating losses incurred on Staten Island by more than 20 percent.
Staten Island residents looking to evade the fare could still choose to walk yet another three-quarters of a mile to the Stapleton stop. If a 25-minute walk from the ferry terminal is a better use of your time than simply paying a fare that is, at most, a $2.25 MetroCard swipe, then, time isn’t always money.