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More stories about Staten Island politicians’ SBS complaints

by Benjamin Kabak

There must be something in the water on Staten Island that causes politicians such consternation over transit improvements. SI politicians desperately want these improvements, but when they actually arrive — as in the case of, say, dedicated bus lanes for Select Bus Service — the very same politicians complain. No one proved this point better than Sen. Andrew Lanza when, earlier this week, he followed a plea for better Staten Island transit service with a six-minute rant against Select Bus Service. He’s not the only one though.

Beginning this week, after nearly a year of Select Bus Service on Staten Island, camera enforcement of dedicated bus lanes will begin. At well-marked locations along Hylan Boulevard, cameras will be in place to catch lane violators, and the drivers will receive a summons in the mail. Cars can use the red lanes to make the next immediate right-hand turn or for quick pick-ups and drop-offs, but those driving in the line will get socked with a $115 fine. I’d prefer physically separated dedicated bus lanes, and even allowing limited car access to bus lanes will slow down travel. But this arrangement is better than nothing.

It’s also been a long time coming as DOT and the MTA have long made clear their desire for automated lane enforcement. But that didn’t stop Assembly Rep Nicole Malliotakis from calling camera enforcement atrocious and invasive. In explaining her position, she later claimed that senior citizens could grow confused and panicked over bus lanes and get ticketed for driving in the wrong lane. It’s a trap.

In reality, it’s not a trap but a way to improve travel for all. We cannot seem to reallocate street space to prioritize transit riders, and bus lane cameras are one measure that would help travel for all. Staten Island keeps asking for more transit, but then, its representatives don’t like the answers. Pick a side.

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Chris C June 27, 2013 - 4:57 pm

“she later claimed that senior citizens could grow confused and panicked over bus lanes”

If a senior (well any driver) gets confused and panicked about a bus lane then the question should be asked – should they be driving at all?

“calling camera enforcement atrocious and invasive”

No it’s cheap and simple. And there is a way for a driver to avoid the cameras and the fines – and that is not to break the rules!

Bolwerk June 27, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Not used to buses! Is it an ambulance or a flying saucer?! Confusion! Traffic congestion! Less space for moar cars! Blacks will be transported faster at public expense! Chaos!

The kind of anecdotes these people theorize like that are always amusing, because they usually boil down to (1) the politician thinking his constituents are fucking idiots and/or (2) the politician being a fucking idiot.

Larry Littlefield June 27, 2013 - 5:13 pm

They also fought the ferry from Great Kills.

And when a former borough President tried to put through some road improvements, that didn’t go over very well either.

I was part of a City Planning project to find a new use for the Farm Colony project and save the historic buildings there more than 20 years ago. NIMBYs killed every proposal. The result is this.


Chris C June 27, 2013 - 5:26 pm

Really interesting article – thanks for the link – and have book marked the site for future reading

D in Bushwick June 27, 2013 - 5:14 pm

Another busway option would be pre-fab mountable curbs I’ve seen cities like Seattle use to separate oncoming lanes. They sit right on top of the paving and allow water to drain through plus vehicles can drive up over them in cases of emergency.
But for cheaters who shouldn’t be using the bus lane, it’s a very obvious physical reminder they have just crossed the line.

Andrew June 27, 2013 - 8:01 pm

How does an S79 pass an S78 that’s stopped at a local stop?

SEAN June 27, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Instead of “I walk the line,” shouldn’t the song be renamed “I crossed the line?”

Hank June 27, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Staten Islanders (of which I am one, both geographically proud and politically ashamed) whine too much about what they’re not getting, then whine some more when they get it and it doesn’t suit them. Witness the number of articles about street trees being planted on the Island. People move here because there is more open space, trees, parks, and more LIVING space than most of the city, but then complain about things that enhance or improve those just as much as they complain about the things that take it away.

SEAN June 27, 2013 - 7:39 pm

And to that point, notice the great posts this week. It’s been about Staten Island or Long Island with there respective sets of cranky polititions on the warpath over transportation.

The insanity never semes to end, hense the recent number of entertaining wrightups by Ben as of late.

Lady Feliz June 27, 2013 - 9:24 pm

Staten Island knobheads are a complete waste of space. That being said, drivers in the US have been given free reign since WW2, and they think all lanes should be open just for them; that they should be able to park with impunity; and that, as these “confused” seniors show, they have the right to drive well into their 80s and 90s even though they can barely see above the dashboard.

Those who have been spoiled and given everything they wanted (that’s you, Baby Boomer) don’t give up their toys without a fight. To which we say, tough shite.

C.P. June 27, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Staten Islanders are addicted to their cars not just because of the lack of the mass transit options here, but also because the actual options of mass transit are either expensive or unreliable. Even with Bustime, I have found buses to still come in bunches, and at some times, I have found Bustime to be inaccurate.

I saw in the previous article regarding Staten Island, with some people claiming that the bus network covers the entire island. That is only true during the week. At Night/Weekends, some buses stop running entirely. This makes relying on this bus network practically impossible if you want to go out around the island. And the buses that are still around run so infrequently that a 15-20 minute trip by car can be an hour or more. This is the main reason why some Islanders are opposed to mass transit and stick with their cars.

As for the SBS, It was a good idea to limit the bus stops of the 79, but the lack of a dedicated bus lane doesnt really make the 79 that much more effective than before. I’ve been on the SBS on Staten Island, and considering that the bus lanes are constantly full of parked cars on off hours, this requires the bus to get out of the lane; completely rendering the bus lanes useless off hours. While the intentions were good, it’s an unfortunate example of bad planning.

In addition, the 79 stops running after a certain time, which is bad considering that this is one of three Staten Island busses that goes to 86th street in Brooklyn. At night, the only option to get to this station is the 53, and you’re out of luck if you dont live near a 53 stop.

The reason why Staten Islanders are opposed to mass transit is because given the track record, they are given third rate service at best. To really correct Staten Island’s problems, the MTA would have to seriously invest in the Island, and given the population density, its really not feasible (not to mention the issue of money as well).

I can only hope the situation gets better, as the population of the island is growing (but the population still wont compare to other boroughs). The roads here can barely handle traffic now.

Lady Feliz June 28, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Staten Island’s population actually fell last year for the first time since records were kept. I think the Island has reached the point where it’s too crowded to be a nice, leafy suburb yet not dense enough to be a sustainable urban area. In a word, Staten Island is over.

That being said, bus service on SI has always been third-rate, with 15 minute headways during rush hours (if the bus shows at all), dirty, old buses that were whipped to death in service in other boros before hitting SI, and a less-than-friendly crowd of fellow riders who don’t exactly make riding the bus a joy.

cortadora laser June 28, 2013 - 1:54 pm

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