Home Staten Island The Staten Island bus edition of ‘What Are Politicians Complaining About Now?’

The Staten Island bus edition of ‘What Are Politicians Complaining About Now?’

by Benjamin Kabak

I’ve had a very tough time in recent months reconciling the attitudes of Staten Islanders with regards to transit, and whenever I point out on Twitter the inherent contradictions, SI natives get very defensive. To me, it seems that Staten Island politicians want to have their cake and eat it too. They want better transit, but then they complain when transit improvements don’t come around as they see fit through whatever narrow lens they view the transit world. Ultimately, they end up getting nothing, and it’s their own doing.

As you may recall, one of the leaders in the fight against better transit is Senator Andrew Lanza. He killed the Select Bus Service vehicles’ flashing blue lights because of trumped up complaints over confusion, and he has shown explicit derision toward the efforts to get the lights restored albeit in a more neutral color. During Tom Prendergast’s confirmation hearings, he took the floor for a lengthy diatribe on SBS while barely letting the MTA’s then-future CEO and Chairman say anything. It was an amazing display of misguided hubris and misplaced anger.

Now, Lanza’s back, and with the passion he’s shown in his quixotic fight against Select Bus Service improvements, you’d think one of these buses had ran over his childhood dog 45 years ago. He now wants to do away with basically all SBS improvements. Dana Rubinstein reports:

Staten Island State Senator Andrew Lanza, whose distaste for Select Bus Service is by this point well-established, is now trying to strip Staten Island’s only rapid bus line of what is arguably its most distinguishing feature. Lanza has introduced a bill that would bar the city from enforcing a bus-only lane on the Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue Select Bus Service line, arguing that the service has been a “failure.”

Approached for comment on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, Lanza produced a litany of complaints about the bus service, which relies on fewer bus stops spaced farther apart, bus-only lanes, and camera and police enforcement to provide faster bus service along a 15-mile stretch of Staten Island…

The Staten Island senator … thinks the Staten Island Select Bus Service line has created nothing more than “speed traps.” “Hylan Boulevard is worse than ever since they’ve done this,” he said. Also, he thinks the terracotta-colored bus lanes are ugly. “I don’t know if it’s water paint, I don’t know if it’s come from a kindergarten class,” he said, but it looks like “street graffiti,” is “pathetic” and “adds to the confusion.” Lanza’s bill would not eliminate the bus route, but it would eliminate the bus-only lane. Which is kind of a distinction without a difference.

The MTA has noted that SBS service along Hylan Boulevard has led to an 11 percent jump in ridership while bus speeds have increased by 13-19 percent depending upon the time of day. Lanza has no need for “facts” or “improvements.” He just wants them gone because buses, I assume, help improve mobility for people who aren’t going to vote for Andrew Lanza.

But again, I’m struck by these contradictions. In a similar vein, Nicole Malliotakis is spearheading an effort to put pressure on the MTA to restore the X18 bus service. This bus had an average weekday ridership of 303 in the last full year before it was eliminated, and officials estimate it would cost around $500-$600,000 to bring it back. On average, then, it cost around $8 per passenger to operate this bus. Now, the MTA can afford 600 grand, but should it be in the business of operating loss leaders? (That’s a very philosophical question about public transit’s role in society, and there’s probably no wrong answer. But I digress.)

I bring this up because while Malliotakis is agitating for a bus that she, and very few other people, used to ride, she has protested other transit improvements for her constituents. She whined about camera enforcement of bus lanes last summer and found some senior citizens who couldn’t figure out what a bus lane meant. (She also couldn’t figure out how to parse MTA’s public budget documents.)

This all leads to a very incoherent picture of transit. Staten Islanders have threatened to throw up roadblocks if the city were to extend the 7 train to New Jersey before sending the 1 or R to Staten Island even if ridership demands would warrant a Jersey extension well ahead of an underground route to Staten Island. They yearn for faster rides and better connections, but when given them, they balk. Now, I don’t mean to pick on Staten Island; it’s certainly drawn the short end of the transit straw. But the borough’s elected officials and those who continue to vote for them can’t have it both ways. If this keeps up, they’ll just have it no way at all instead.

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adirondacker12800 May 9, 2014 - 1:11 am

…Real Americans ™ drive everywhere and everybody else should get out of their way. Except when they want to take the bus to someplace where it’s hard to park. Then everybody should subsidize them. Like everybody else subsidizes their cars.

normative May 9, 2014 - 9:58 am

But this is new york, not america. Well, at least for the other four boroughs

tacony May 9, 2014 - 10:55 am

Yep. That’s all this comes down to. It’s not hypocritical for SI politicos to call for express buses while trashing SBS. It fits into their world view: to get anywhere on Staten Island (or even to Bay Ridge as the S79 does), you drive. Transit is for going to Manhattan.

9% of Staten Island households don’t even have a car, but that’s a low enough number for most people to basically ignore.

ajedrez May 9, 2014 - 12:16 pm

It’s 18.4%: http://www.tstc.org/reports/cp.....tsheet.pdf

But yeah, for intra-SI travel, the attitude is that most people drive.

Keith Williams May 9, 2014 - 1:19 am

“Now, I don’t mean to pick on Staten Island; it’s certainly drawn the short end of the transit straw.”

Yes, but no one is forced to live there. When your property value is around two-thirds that of the rest of the city, and you live in a place far removed from the other boroughs, you should expect some trade-offs.

It’s bad enough we have to fight some know-nothing from Utica or Rochester (or Cuomo himself) for better transit funding or more speed cameras; that the rest of the city’s representation in Albany puts up with this garbage from their own colleagues is sad.

Alon Levy May 9, 2014 - 12:42 pm

Yes, but no one is forced to live there.

I don’t know, restrictive zoning throughout the city counts as “forcing” to me.

SEAN May 9, 2014 - 9:33 pm

I don’t know, restrictive zoning throughout the city counts as “forcing” to me.

Really? Last I herd there are real estate options such as Dutchess County New York & like places in New Jersey. Oh wait – you want NYC’s property tax benefits, so this is what you get.

Alon Levy May 10, 2014 - 12:44 pm

Dutchess County has extremely long commutes to the city. Overall Staten Island has the longest commutes in the US, but that’s because a large minority of Staten Islanders work in Manhattan and Brooklyn, whereas in the suburbs, especially ones as far out as Dutchess County, few people work in the city. Someone working in Manhattan can live in Staten Island and commute 45 minutes each way or in Poughkeepside and commute 90.

Jersey has the same zoning problem as the Outer Boroughs: the prices near Manhattan are quite high, and the areas where prices are low have long commutes to Manhattan as well.

John-2 May 9, 2014 - 1:46 am

Schizophrenic NIMBYism — They don’t know what they want, they just know they don’t want this, they want that. Unless they get that, then they won’t want it anymore.

They don’t want street-clogging limited-stop buses, but do want express buses that attract only a few passengers. Even if they also clog the streets. And if the same types were ever to get their subway line, they’d complain if it was the R instead of the 1 because they have to go through Brooklyn, they’d complain about the construction disruptions every bit as much as the residents of Yorkshire Towers gripe about the SAS, and they would complain about upzoning areas near the new subway, that make the areas more like the other four boroughs.

Michael May 9, 2014 - 5:35 am

Where to start? Where to start?

1) Let’s not group all people living on Staten Island as “Staten Islanders” all having one mind, one set of thoughts, ideas or feelings.
There are different groups of people living in Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queens who have various views, interests, etc, the same is here on Staten Island. Applying broad labels in this context can create stereotype – not good.

Staten Islanders work on Staten Island, in Brooklyn, in Manhattan, in New Jersey, with much lesser numbers work in Queens or the Bronx. Meaning that the transportation picture is not simple. It is simplistic to reduce a whole borough of about 500,000 people to simple stereotypes.

2) I just finished reading a book by Aaron James, called A-Holes (I can not spell out the whole title). It is a very good book, and I truly believe that describes Senator Lanza. Now there are other folks that also fit that definition, and you have to read the book, to find out how it truly fits.

3) There is something called “greasy wheel politics” – the practice of political folk of all kinds to respond to their voters, complaints, etc. In Manhattan easily 74% (or more) of the folks do not have a car, while on Staten Island about 74% do have one car or more. Meaning that the folks calling and writing to complain about “transportation” will be different – purely based upon the voter’s interests. In either case, the wishes of the 25% should not be neglected – and in a just world that would be the case.

Being transit dependent on Staten Island is simply not easy – there’s just no two-ways about it. There are areas of Staten Island that are not easy to reach or are very time consuming to reach by public transit. Folks in such areas use their cars for the majority of their trips since there are few other options.

4) The folks who drove along Hylan Blvd and got tickets due to the bus lanes are not happy about that. It is an easy TV-media story! Enough of those folks contacted their political representatives – hence a response. Political folk usually drive cars and identify with other drivers, rather than identify with the riders of public transit or the transit dependent. While Sen. Lanza attacks the symbols of the driver’s ire – the lanes and lights, it does not seem that he is actually calling for the elimination of the bus route, etc. My description of him still stands – but I understand the crowd that he is playing towards. Of course, I am sure that there other political folk in the other boroughs that rarely actually USE public transit daily, and who most probably talk a good game about public transit. Now what politician does not play toward the crowd?

5) This weekend marks the removal of weekend hourly ferry service, where folks who want to go out on a Saturday or Sunday night do not have wait an hour for a Staten Island ferry. Hourly ferry service was something that was created under Mayor Koch during the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s, more than 30 years ago! This happened about a decade after the V-Bridge opened. So guess what message was actually sent out about the usefulness of public transit on Staten Island? Poor transit begets more cars which begets more poor transit which begets more cars, and so on and so on! Then other folks wonder why public transit does not rate high, and then they wonder why transit on Staten Island on the good days sucks.

Now throw in the city dump taking 14,000 tons of garbage daily for decades from the whole city, the high bridge tolls, other public services and the idea that plenty of other New Yorkers and their political folk just do not care about that little forgotten island! Three times before the City Council has voted expand ferry service to at 30 minutes around the clock, only to be thwarted by the mayor.

6) Mayor Koch cancelled all ferry service midnight hours and then 6 months later created the basic reduced schedule that would be followed for the next 30+ years. The “Pre-Koch” ferry schedule had rush hour boats 10 or 15 minutes apart, 20 minutes between boats day-times, and 30-minutes between boats evenings and during the midnight hours. The 30-minute schedule used to be the midnight hour schedule more then 30+ years ago! Now we’re just glad that waiting 30 minutes is the most that we have to wait! Think about the transit policy message that was sent every day of every year!

The 30 and 60 minute schedule was the incentive, the transit policy to get in your car, and to stay there! At the same time the transit buses which can not be relied upon, and the SIR have run on similar schedules for years! Again think about that transit policy as you’re waiting in all kinds of weather for the bus that is late, again! No one considers that sucky transit supports the idea of getting and using your car, and to only consider public transit when there are no other options!

7) Working at a college in Brooklyn on Saturdays, where for two semesters out of each year I had to wait an hour for the ferry. I always had to tape Star Trek – Deep Space Nine due to the subway-ferry-bus I’d always arrive home in the middle of the broadcast! Other folks left the job at 7pm, I would not get home until about 9:20 or later, just due to waiting in the terminal for the ferry. So yes, I’m happy that the schedule is changing, but not happy that it took 30+ years to do it.

The hourly waits for ferries on the weekend mornings were no pleasure either. Being an hour late for work was not fun at all! One could easily lose a job because of the difficulty of traveling to and from Staten Island.

8) I understand why plenty of drivers on Staten island say that do not want to pay high bridge tolls that support transit that they feel they do not use! Here the idea that public transit takes cars off the roads – simply does not work! Not when 74% of the households have cars and use them regularly, especially because the transit sucks! Or that the transit that exists does not go where you want to go, or is very time consuming and unpredictable to get there!

So when other folks want to ask why public transit gets little political support from so many on Staten Island – they never bother to think how public transit here rises to the level of pathetic on its best days. Or how once too often when plenty of folks been screwed by the buses, SIR and ferries on Staten Island – the idea of using your car as much as you can has great appeal. Plenty of teenagers living on Staten Island understand that, their daily lessons to/from school underscores that message.

9) Then there’s the transit dependent, the 24% of households that do not have a car – getting around Staten Island is definitely not easy. Take something simple as putting money on your Metro-Card, well there’s only 3 places to do it on the whole island! Ever try to find a local grocery or drug-store that sells Metro-Cards? Not easy to do at certain times of the evening or weekend! Coming into Manhattan just to fill your Metro-Card can easily take 90 minutes or more, when the machines are broken in the ferry terminal.

10) How about working on Staten Island? Well some buses run at 20 minutes apart – day times, others at 30 minutes apart = day times! The SIR runs at 30 minutes apart. Most of your co-workers just hop in their cars and drive home in minutes, you – you’re still waiting for a bus for the time consuming trip home! When buses do not show up – there’s little sympathy – you’re late for work!

When you’re transit dependent on Staten Island – trips to the Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx become extremely time consuming affairs. The usual commute to Manhattan of 90 minutes for a one-way trip, requires the same amount of time on the return trip. Once I had to travel to Queens Borough Hall near the Union Turnpike from Staten Island – that was 2 and half hours – one way! Had I drove the trip would have been a hour! There are similar trips that are time consuming by public transit, but take much less time by car, when you’re not heading into Manhattan central. Being without a car on Staten Island is not easy!

11) Then there’s the folks online who think that waiting an hour for the ferry on the weekends and nights is somehow “fair” – but they themselves bristle at the thought of subway service that runs as much as 20-minutes apart during the midnight hours. Public transit that arrives at 20-minutes on Staten Island is called RUSH HOUR!

Some online transit fans – often wonder why your borough is even a part of New York City – such attitudes do not seem all that welcoming! Even within this message stream are folks that say, “Well no one told them to move there!” I do have a response to such statements, I just choose at this time to remain calm.

12) Real transportation solutions – cost a heck of a lot of money – of which there is not a lot, and not a lot of political will. On this forum and in other places there is often talk about the “cost of pubic rail transit”. When every inch of public road space is fought over, when there are no realistic achievable solutions that can stay on budget and be built in a realistic time-frame – all that is left is to argue about the symbols. This year it is “let’s re-invent transit”, last year it was “recovery”, or “sustainable” before that. The buzzwords change – the facts on the ground do not. The majority of our rail transit was built by the 1940’s – and generally if it was not built by then, the chances of it ever being built is slim to none.


Bolwerk May 9, 2014 - 9:10 am

I agree these people probably don’t represent Staten Island all that well, but it has to be admitted that they are voting for slope-brows like Lanza and we should hold it against them. With transit issues, usually nobody is as passionate as the few dozen narcissists who want to make sure nobody has a convenient trip. The problem is the narcissists get to show up at the community board; everyone else is busy, maybe even stuck on a bus.

JAzumah May 9, 2014 - 10:19 am

Bolwerk, you nailed it. Too many busybodies.

SEAN May 9, 2014 - 9:36 pm

+1, 2 & even 3!

Chris C May 9, 2014 - 10:40 am

The first part of 4 is easily resolved – don’t drive in the bus lanes!

Some people are just so stupid – like the one I overheard the other week here in London complaining about the number of tickets she had been given for driving in a bus lane and bad parking and the cost of paying them (not helped by delaying payment so loosing the early payment discount). She blamed everyone – the wardens and the Mayor – for the privations the tickets would cause her – anyone and everyone except herself.

Lady Feliz May 11, 2014 - 11:10 pm

Michael, I love you. If I see one more idiot write “give Staten Island to New Jersey” I’m gonna puke. BTW, Lanza is a total asshole. Luckily, he’s one of 500,000 people of different mindsets who live on S.I.

Bolwerk May 12, 2014 - 9:15 am

But he has orders of magnitude more power than the average Staten Islander.

Quirk May 9, 2014 - 7:26 am

It’s amazing when commenters think they can write a journal entry in someone elses’ blog.

JMB May 9, 2014 - 9:37 am

Agreed, however this is par for the course for him: long, repetitive, rambling screeds.

BrooklynBus May 9, 2014 - 12:27 pm

It’s rambling just because you don’t like the points he is making.

JMB May 9, 2014 - 4:18 pm

I never said I disagreed with his points, just that he takes the Rube Goldberg approach to making them…hence the rambling.

Michael May 9, 2014 - 5:41 pm

Working on it.

SEAN May 9, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Before posting Mike, may I suggest having a nice drink such as a glass of red wine beside the computer. It will calm you down without killing the pashon you have here.

Quirk May 10, 2014 - 4:38 am

“Agreed, however this is par for the course for him: long, repetitive, rambling screeds”

So true. I urge mentioned person to take his journal entries somewhere else, say NYCT Forums. I’m sure they’ll care over there.


ruby_soho May 11, 2014 - 10:28 pm

Wow, Quirk…or should I say, Jerk. Let the man have his say. He’s right, you know. But yes, let’s go on lumping 500,000 SIers in one stereotypical pile. I live on SI and have never once voted for Lanza, btw.

Boris May 9, 2014 - 7:30 am

The stance of Staten Island politicians seems inconsistent because they find it repugnant and confusing that everyone has to be equal under the law. Lanza isn’t against transit per se, he is against the rule of law in general, except when it benefits him. Just like the detractors of the Prospect Park West bike lane, he and Malliotakis can only think in terms of benefits to narrow groups of special interests, not the public at large (and certainly not poor people, like those who are transit-dependent).

Larry Littlefield May 9, 2014 - 7:50 am

It’s an outrage that Brooklyn drivers have do endure heavier traffic on the Gowanus/BQE so that Staten Island express buses can whizz by them in dedicated bus lanes. The outrage!

JMB May 9, 2014 - 9:40 am

Eh, not really. The HOV lane takes a lane away from the off-peak direction. Rush hour commuters have the same amount of lanes as they always have had. In fact, it looks like the DOT is paving over either a shoulder or the median to make the HOV lane permanent (no shuffling of the barriers for peak/offpeak direction)

Lady Feliz May 11, 2014 - 11:11 pm

The Bay Ridge express buses (X27, X28, etc) use that lane too.

Michael K May 9, 2014 - 8:48 am

As Jarrett Walker would say, landlocked communities don’t get marinas. The 7 extension to Hudson County and a terminal at Secaucus Junction would work because of the dense urban environment and the sudden usefulness of the old Erie lines that currently head into Hoboken.

Bolwerk May 9, 2014 - 9:34 am

I’d say SI is probably a pretty good Subway investment in its own right though, at least if land use can be rationalized.

normative May 9, 2014 - 10:08 am

I’ve seen Jarrett Walker say that in public talk too. He would also have something to say about this bit:
“Now, the MTA can afford 600 grand, but should it be in the business of operating loss leaders? (That’s a very philosophical question about public transit’s role in society, and there’s probably no wrong answer. But I digress.)”

If I recall, he said something like within reason cities must provide public transport during off peak hours and in areas that have little use, even if this means they operate in at a loss–something about the sense of mobility as a fundamental freedom just like speech.

anyway, I hope you keep highlighting this topic. This transit contradiction also extended to the SBS route on 125 and Perkin’s action against it. I think you should send it to the SI advance.

BrooklynBus May 9, 2014 - 9:10 am

You have a problem with that?

I don’t as long as its coherent.

BrooklynBus May 9, 2014 - 9:11 am

Should have been addressed to Quirk.

lawhawk May 9, 2014 - 9:11 am

Decisions made decades ago continue to rear their ugly head when it comes to SI transit. People living on the Island do seem to have a schizophrenic relationship to transit. They are always complaining about a need for more and better transit, but don’t want the transit that they’re getting because they (and NYC) can’t afford more. They demand (and have largely gotten) road expansion, including the SI Expressway, but the main roads on SI are single lane in critical places.

Victory Blvd goes to a single lane, as does Forest and Bay, all while traveling through commercial business districts. Richmond Terrace is also single lane through much of its route on the North Shore.

Multiple lane thoroughfares are limited on SI – Hylan and Richmond, and there is limited access into St. George near the bus/ferry terminal. That limits what MTA can do with limited geography to expand bus service, including SBS, without eliminating cars along significant stretches of those roads.

Also worth remembering is that some of the same people who will complain about lack of transit, will complain if transit comes in and expands access, because it would drive up real estate prices, bring in undesirables, etc. (the typical NIMBY responses). They want all of the benefits, but none of the costs. So, they get a reduced VZB rate because there’s little else that can be done with the fiscal situation.

Now, if MTA said that 50 of the rate for VZB tolls would go to building a subway link to Brooklyn or Manhattan, you’d get complaints that the money was being siphoned off never to be seen.

Frank B May 9, 2014 - 10:33 am

Lanza? Is he still around? That guy is the gibbering idiot who insisted on Staten Island secession, years after it had already failed. What Lanza, (who must have an IQ hovering around 95, if that) fails to realize is this:

Staten Island largely has what I call a “Jersey” economy. It has local shops and stores, but unlike Brooklyn and Queens, which at least have commercial business centers like Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, (with big anchor tenants like the NYCTA, National Grid, and JetBlue) Saint George doesn’t attract any kind of that development, partly due to the fact that the ferry is infrequent and slow. (Mayor Hylan’s spite for the BMT ruined any hope for decent transit for this island.)

Without the core of business-centric Manhattan and the other boroughs to weigh it out, Staten Island would indeed become a Jersey economy. Houses that pay a reasonable amount in taxes in Staten Island would easily double or triple, just like in Jersey. My grandparents left Marine Park for Freehold (Springsteen Country) back in the 90’s. My aunt lived in an identical house to theirs a block over, and stayed there for the rest of her life.

My grandparents’ house is worth roughly $300k, and my aunt’s was worth $600k. Yet she was paying half the taxes that they were, effectively making their tax-rate 4 times what hers was!

That’s what would happen to Staten Island. It has no real commercial center. It is basically subsidized by the other boroughs, mainly Manhattan. That’s why a house in Howard Beach, Woodlawn Heights, Bayside Hills, or Sea Gate can be large, free-standing houses (a characteristic we now associate with Suburbia) and still be far cheaper than Jersey.

Of course, if Lanza had any brains at all, he would have realized this in about 4 or 5 minutes of concentrated thought. And if Staten Islanders (in general) did either, they too would have realized this. And thereafter, they would have immediately revolted against Lanza for suggesting something so totally ridiculous and against their interests, both financially and politically.

Tim May 9, 2014 - 10:41 am

I say kick SI out of the 5 boroughs, cut it down to 4, and tell them to have a nice day. Jack up the east bound VZ tolls at the same time, while spinning off MTA SI Buses. Boom, no more sticks in the mud to deal with.

Lady Feliz May 11, 2014 - 11:13 pm

How utterly juvenile. Maybe you should just close your eyes, hold your breath and count to 1,000,000 and SI will magically disappear.

Rob May 9, 2014 - 10:48 am

Staten Island has a deeply entrenched car culture, and this culture doesn’t like bus only lanes. The same players who are fighting the SBS lanes, Andrew Lanza, Councilman Vincent Ignizio, and behind the scenes current BP James Oddo, are anti bus lane, anti bike lane, anti camera enforcement.

Ignizio’s latest frat boy stunt is a bill to require the city to put pedestrian countdown signals at all intersections with red light cameras. This bill’s co sponsor Steve Matteo is right up front that it’s intended to provide drivers with a means to know when the light is about to change…which is no doubt going to lead to drivers stepping on the gas to beat the light, as they all too often do now.


Not Ben May 9, 2014 - 10:50 am

All people named Ben are not nice people.

I base this because I knew a Ben in second grade who was a bully. Also, Ben Affleck isn’t a nice guy, and I heard Ben Franklin was pretentious.

Therefore, ALL BENS in the WHOLE WORLD are not nice people. It follows!

Please do not make generalizations about us!!!! It’s so deriding and insulting. We are represented by some idiots, but that doesn’t mean we’re all like them! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Benjamin Kabak May 9, 2014 - 10:55 am

As you’ll see in the post, I’ve focused this not around all Staten Islanders but around Staten Island politicians (and the people who continue to vote for them). Lanza won reelection two years ago with 70% of the vote so at least 30% of his constituents are OK.

JMB May 9, 2014 - 10:58 am

Did you ride the short bus in 2nd grade as well?

Staten Islander May 9, 2014 - 10:53 am

If you build it they will come.

Imagine if subway didn’t go to Brooklyn and everyone had cars. By virtue of the status quo, you would say there is no reason to build a subway there. Right?

You are going to be a mover and shaker in the MTA in x number of years, and I really like you, but please do not misrepresent my borough! I would want someone who cares about all of us equally, including the stepsister of NYC (which was made that way due to politics not allowing infrastructure to connect us to the rest of the city)

You can get from NEw Haven, CT to Grand Central faster than from Tottenville……..Isn’t that sad?

Tower18 May 9, 2014 - 1:21 pm

So rally voters. Because right now, the Staten Island that votes DOES. NOT. WANT. MORE. TRANSIT. Don’t blame the other 4 boroughs for this, blame the voters.

Another problem is this: so a subway was built to Staten Island. Let’s assume the pie-in-the-sky option of extending the 1 train. That’s still approximately a 5.25-mile tunnel between St. George and South Ferry, meaning probably a ~9 minute trip. Yeah that’s a third of the ferry trip time, but it still only gets one to St. George.

Assuming you connect this new tunnel to the SIR, a trip from Eltingville to Lower Manhattan is still gonna take ~40-50 minutes, vs the 60 minutes by bus today. How many people will switch to a subway train they have to walk to vs. the comfortable bus that stops on their corner?

I think a lot of Staten Islanders like to think they want a subway, but if a subway was actually built, they would see their island is not set up to be served by subway. And so lots of changes would need to be made to buildings and zoning, which would not be appreciated.

Michael May 9, 2014 - 5:50 pm

It is a tough choice:

1) A Ferry system that except for rush hours runs every 30 or 60 minutes taking a half-hour to cross New York Bay, or

2) An extended #1 train using a 5.25 tunnel that makes the entire trip in 9 minutes, where the trains run at 5 minutes apart rush hours, and about 8-10 minutes apart day-times, and at most 20 minutes apart during the midnight hours. Using full length trains inside clean modern stations.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

I’d think I’d take the #1 train. Does it come in a Red-Bird or Silver? Do I get fries with it? Or a salad? (Smile)

All joking aside – what you’ve proposed is not a difficult choice at all. A hugely expensive choice but not a difficult one to accept!


Alon Levy May 9, 2014 - 6:35 pm

Annoying nitpick, I know, but I wouldn’t use the 1 for this. I’d do it mainline rail, going up to Grand Central and connecting to Metro-North, for a couple reasons:

1. Faraway neighborhoods such as Staten Island and the inner suburbs call for wider station spacing; the 1 has one of the closest station spacings in the city.

2. Commuter rail modernization is necessary anyway, as are extensions from various directions toward Lower Manhattan. It’s cheaper to build a Fulton Street commuter rail station as a through-station than as a terminus, so pairing a line from Grand Central with a line to the south is useful.

3. A central Lower Manhattan commuter rail transfer station would also include an easy transfer to Downtown Brooklyn; the 1 has terrible transfers to Brooklyn. Given comparative costs, the LIRR will probably be extended from Flatbush to Fulton before any SI-Manhattan tunnel is built.

4. Mainline trains going on the Metro-North line are 3.2 meters by 200 or 250; the 1 rolling stock is 2.8 by 155. The tunneling costs are the same under either option, since the difference in tunnel diameter is very small, and the geological work is indifferent to diameter anyway.

5. On the margins, mainline trains have a higher top speed and more power, whereas subway trains are not optimized for 8-km nonstop rides; an M8 could probably do the trip in 6 minutes, compared with 8 or 9 for an R62 or R142.

6. Trains on Staten Island should branch, with half going along the present-day SIR and half going along the North Shore Branch. Branching means lower off-peak frequency, perhaps every 15 or 20 minutes, or maybe reducing one branch to a shuttle with a timed transfer to the other one at St. George; this befits the lower density of Staten Island. This requires a timetable that is based on easily memorable schedules and high schedule adherence, rather than the practice of maintaining constant headways on the subway.

ajedrez May 9, 2014 - 8:06 pm

Personally, I’d prefer subway service for the simple reason that the fare would be cheaper (even under a zone-based fare, I think they’d charge less for a ride of a similar distance on the subway). If the SAS were complete, you could extend the T and have it branch off, the way the A does.

Otherwise, I’d be sort of split between commuter rail and subway service. Keep in mind that, unless you close down some stations in SI, you still have subway-level stop spacing, not commuter rail stop spacing.

Alon Levy May 11, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Yeah, that is probably true.

That said, if modernization includes mode-neutral fares, which it should, then most likely the fight over who gets to be in which zone will end up putting all of the city in zones 1 and 2*. It’s more efficient to put the Rockaways, Staten Island, and the parts of Queens beyond subway range in zone 3, but it’s not a big deal to be honest.

I should clarify that the idea of spending many billions on commuter rail tunnels from Pavonia to Flatbush and from Grand Central to St. George assumes that the cheaper aspects of modernization are already included. There’s no point spending so much on commuter rail if key lines like the Erie lines remain unelectrified, off-peak frequency is hourly, fares are high even for intra-city travel, etc.

*Using the Berliner and Parisian idea that tickets are for at least two zones. Zone 1 is the CBD, e.g. Manhattan, and it’s more expensive to travel from zones 3+ to zone 1 than to zone 2, but it costs the same to travel within zones 1 and 2 and to travel between zones 1 and 2.

lop May 11, 2014 - 3:14 pm

Why wouldn’t you charge a premium for faster commuter rail trains? Because subways cost the same as slower buses?

Why would the rockaways be zone 3?

Alon Levy May 11, 2014 - 9:36 pm

For the same reason the subway doesn’t charge a premium for express trains. Transit should exist as a unified system, with local and express service levels complementing each other, with easy transfers, rather than acting as a way of separating people into service classes. If it’s so important to have a premium fare class, then have first- and second-class cars on commuter trains; Zurich has first-class cars, and so do many lines in Tokyo.

Alon Levy May 11, 2014 - 9:38 pm

As for the Rockaways question: the Rockaways are very far from Manhattan, and were in a separate fare zone when the A to the Rockaways first opened.

Michael May 9, 2014 - 9:23 pm

“the 1 has terrible transfers to Brooklyn”

Yes, I am nitpicking, and I apologize, but this was too good to pass up!

The #1 train does not travel to Brooklyn! Saying that its “transfers” in Brooklyn are terrible makes this a very funny statement!


Benjamin Kabak May 9, 2014 - 10:45 pm

He said “transfers to” not “transfers in.” The transfers to Brooklyn are the R at South Ferry, the 2/3 at Chambers St., a really long transfer to the L and F at 14th and nothing else until Times Square. Those are not ideal.

Michael May 10, 2014 - 2:25 pm

1) I have to remember to keep my glasses clean!

2) The #1 paired with the #2 and #3 trains that travel direct to/from Brooklyn, it is debate-able describing the transfer situation as less than “ideal”. I do not “see” the #1, #2 or #3 lines as completely separate pathways, but rather a system of routes.

3) I’d really not like to go back to the whole year after 9/11 when the #1 train was traveling direct to Brooklyn (replacing the #3) to New Lots Avenue. When the South Ferry station was completely closed, and the Cortlandt Street station was destroyed.

4) Nor would I like to go back to pre-1955, when the trains out of Van Cortlandt Park always traveled to Brooklyn, ending at either Flatbush Avenue or New Lots Avenue depending upon the season. Those trains were definitely not built for air-conditioning! (LOL)

5) All nit-picking aside – if there were to be a subway installed on Staten Island, I’d prefer a deep-bore system that did not follow the street grid, or the paths of an abandoned rail-line. Such a deep-bore fantastical subway could connect with various surface lines, reach distant places quickly, etc. Since this is fantasy – the cost is no object! There would be few NIMBY objections, and nobody could complain about the signal lights of the trains! (LOL!)

The island has changed in major ways from the days when the North Shore line operated. There are “new-ish” shopping centers and other places in the middle of the island that did not exist when the North Shore operated and that are no where near close to that track segment. There are those who keep wanting to revive abandoned routes do not meet today’s needs.

6) For example, one aspect of public transit policy – the Bricktown Mall on southern Staten Island, a collection of Targets and eating/shopping places was open for 10 years before there was bus service direct to the place. Then the nearest bus was about a mile to a mile and a half away, requiring one to walk along some streets that did not have sidewalks! Another public transit policy incentive for the car!

It was easier to travel by bus-ferry-subway to the Target’s at Atlantic Avenue-Brooklyn than it was to go the Target’s on Staten Island! Both are time-consuming trips. It took a major lobbying effort to get the MTA to actually and finally provide direct bus service there! So when folks want to talk about the “car culture” of Staten Island – they reduce the effects of the public policy decisions that are made that provide the incentive for the car!

7) Traveling between Staten Island and the other boroughs has its challenges, AND traveling within Staten Island also has its challenges. Ways have to be developed that enhance both types of travel.

8) Stepping off soap-box, and cleaning my glasses!


Alon Levy May 11, 2014 - 12:58 am

1. If you look at 2008 archives of CAHSR Blog, you’ll see me make an order of magnitude error in computing the per-km cost of the Chuo Shinkansen. It’s okay.

2. South of Chambers Street, the 1 and the 2/3 separate, so 1-to-2/3 already requires some backtracking. The 2 and 3 trains are also really slow heading south of Chambers. 1 to R is an awful transfer, but it saves going another 3 stops in each direction at least.

3-4. First, the 1 is local whereas the 2/3 are express independent of the choice of rolling stock. But I think you misunderstand. Here is what I am talking about – no 1 trains involved.

5. But cost is an object! It’s expensive to dig underwater, but at least there are no stations to worry about. There were no pure rail projects underwater for this length recently: there are recent road tunnels and road-rail bridge-tunnels, whose costs were not that bad, but I don’t have a direct point of comparison. This is important, because when I say that a subway from St. George to the western end of the North Shore is $2 billion I’m basing this on rest-of-world costs and not New York costs, whereas when I say that a tunnel from Manhattan to St. George is $7.5 billion I’m basing this on the cost estimates for a double-track Jersey City-Brooklyn freight rail tunnel. In reality, either the land segment would cost much more than $2 billion or the sea segment would cost much less than $7.4 billion.

6-7. Well, the important bits are to a) serve the denser parts of the Island, i.e. the St. George area and parts of the North Shore, and b) leverage existing infrastructure, i.e. the SIR, in areas where new construction isn’t justified. Assume that a cut in the one-way travel time to Manhattan from 25 to 7 minutes, with additional time cut from ferry transfers, would completely transform the Island’s economic geography: more development around St. George and around train stations, stronger ties to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, comparatively weaker ties to Jersey.

Michael May 11, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Putting aside all of the fanastical railroad, light-rail or subway ideas, the real proof of public transit policy occured this weekend. Any questions about the why of “car culture” on Staten Island was answered this weekend. The possibility of other major expensive improvements were also answered this weekend.

It took 30+ years to change the ferry schedule to eliminate the hourly ferry schedule on a completely city-run ferry service. that never involved billions of dollars speaks volumes. All that was needed was for the mayor to approve the spending of about $500,000 for the increased service out of at least a $60 billion budget. The Staten Island Ferry was always a very small part of the NYC budget. Folks have been lobbying for this change for more than a decade!

Just think about how something as “simple” as a ferry schedule has an impact upon those who use the ferry and its related connections. Just think about the daily decisions both large and small that are related to transit or the lack of it. Those are transit policy decisions!

There is a need to improve transportation on Staten Island, not only between Staten Island and other boroughs, but also within Staten Island itself – getting from one place to another. The island has changed in many ways, where just reviving old lines will not have the major impact hoped for. The old abandoned lines does not service the new places that have been built and in operation in decades since the old lines closed. The North Shore nearest the old railroad has not been the dense part of the island, or the major destination for many kinds of trips for decades! The old places like Port Richmond are no longer the dense commercial centers that they once a long time ago were. The thinking has to be revised!

Just getting a person TO Staten Island is not the same as getting ABOUT the island. It is the same as a Metro-North rider getting off at Grand Central needing to get to the Woolworth Building. Attention has to be paid to both when beautiful transit reports are made. There are hundreds of really pretty reports, maps and ideas about “what could be” sitting on the shelves. The facts on the ground are different! It took 30+ years to change the ferry schedule! This is a transit policy decision!

In the previous message, I showed how a major shopping center was in operation for 10 years before a public policy decision was made to finally route the buses there to serve the shopping center, and the folks who work there. The re-routing of buses did not involve major infrastructure changes – just some bus stops and signage. That effort took major lobbying to finally get the MTA to service the place. Just think about the transit policy message that was sent!

Yes, there are reactions to such decisions! The facts on the ground (or under or above the ground – LOL) are simple – the majority of the public rail transit in the NY/NJ region was built prior to 1940! Yes, some conversions and smaller additions, but nothing large scale new. Think about why that is. That is a transit policy decision, and yes, there are several reactions to that.

Considering that it took 30+ years to change the hourly ferry schedule, other major improvements might not come about quickly.


lop May 11, 2014 - 3:48 pm

‘It took 30+ years to change the ferry schedule to eliminate the hourly ferry schedule on a completely city-run ferry service. that never involved billions of dollars speaks volumes. All that was needed was for the mayor to approve the spending of about $500,000 for the increased service’

SI ferry costs almost one hundred million for the DOT to operate. How do you figure it only cost five hundred thousand to increase service?

‘In the previous message, I showed how a major shopping center was in operation for 10 years’

The bricktown mall? It didn’t open until 2007.

The mall is less than one mile from Richmond valley rail stop. S55 is less than one mile from the mall unless it has been rerouted, not one and a half

In 2011 buses were rerouted there, now you have the S74 and S78. As for why it took four years, not ten…

Borough President James P. Molinaro said:
“After a long battle with the Bricktown Mall owners, we appreciate the fact that they’ve acquiesced in permitting bus service into the mall. This new service will accommodate many seniors who don’t have driving opportunities and must depend upon friends and charitable organizations to go shopping.”

Michael May 14, 2014 - 7:58 pm

Nice Try!

1) I have a copy of a City Council report from 2003 about the Staten Island Ferry which noted that the ferry service was always a very small part of NYC’s budget. In recent years the cost has risen to about $100 million, due to the increased costs of providing security on the ferries and in terminals. The Mayor’s Management Reports also looks at the costs to provide city services. It will take me a while to track down that City Council report, or the relevant Mayor’s Management Report.

2) In 2003, the NYC City Council took up the issue of expanded ferry service with a ferry every 30 minutes at least at 24/7/365, then it was estimated to cost an additional $5 million a year. The plain meaning is that cost of additional 30-minute boats was never a huge “budget buster”.

“The measure was approved Tuesday by a veto-proof vote of 46-0. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has said he opposes the plan, is expected to veto the bill within the next 30 days. The council will most likely override the veto early next year.

The city transportation department has also opposed the legislation, saying demand was not great enough to justify the estimated extra expense of $5 million.”

Staten Island ferry services to expand – The Associated Press –
Published: 2:00 AM – 12/13/04 – http://www.recordonline.com/ap.....sitesearch

3) “In fiscal year 2014, there’s $505,000 in de Blasio’s budget plan for increased ferry service. In fiscal year 2015, that jumps to $3.1 million – accounting for the round-the-clock service. The $3.1 million figure remains in the budget through fiscal year 2018, which is as far ahead as the financial plan looks.”

Expanded Staten Island Ferry service funded in city budget – By Jillian Jorgensen | jorgensen@siadvance.com on February 21, 2014 at 1:00 AM, updated February 21, 2014 at 1:44 AM – Staten Island Advance


3) The planning for the Bricktown Centre began in the late 1990’s covered within several Staten Island Advance news articles. All of the land then was city-owned, some to be used for housing, shopping, a bus depot, recreation, etc. The planning then could have easily included better bus transit provisions. There were also plenty of discussions in the news of building another bus depot on Staten Island that later became the Charleston Bus Depot.

4) Plenty of folks do not consider a half-mile or close to a mile of walking to be “nearby” for example, a walk from 125th Street to 135th Street or a walk to 145th Street – a mile away. Some of the streets did not have sidewalks – leaving one to walk alongside the car traffic – a dangerous situation.

5) The S55 Bus that you say is about a half-mile from the shopping center only runs weekdays – Mon-Friday from about 6am to 7pm. That is a limited schedule for shopping purposes for a bus that runs between the Staten Island Mall and near the closed Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Rossville.

6) An old Staten Island Bus map from 2009, shows that the S74 bus on Arthur Kill Avenue was the closest bus as well as down-hill from the shopping center. The S74 runs full-time, including weekends when many people go shopping. The S74 for decades ran to Main Street near the Tottenville terminal of the SIR, and to the St. George Ferry Terminal. I found a 1979 Staten Island Bus Map that shows what would be the S74 bus has not changed its route in decades, it was the same as its 2009 version.

In 2011, both the S74. and the S78 were re-routed direct to the shopping mall, well after the shopping center was open for business.

7) On my first trip to this mall I took the S74 bus – that was years before the S74 was rerouted directly to the shopping center. The S74 bus is still a very long ride from St. George, but there was a sale at the Christmas Tree Shops, and yes it was the weekend. The walking distance from Arthur Kill Avenue to the shopping center is all up-hill, a fact not easily discerned from the street maps.

I measured the walking distances using MapPoint, while it may “as the crow flies” be a half-mile from one address to another, that does not include the walking among the various buildings and streets to get to one’s shopping destination. For this reply I measured the walking distances from the Richmond Valley SIR train station, the original bus stop on Arthur Kill Avenue, and from Bloomingdale Road as suggested for the S55 bus. Effective walking distances of a half-mile to 3/4 of a mile were easy to obtain, and measure.

8) From a 2002 article written in the New York Times –

If You’re Thinking of Living In_Charleston, Staten Island; Neighborhood That Grew From a Clay Pit – New York Times – by JANICE FIORAVANTE – Published: June 2, 2002

“The neighborhood is now the scene of intense debate over 130 acres of city-owned land. Originally called the Charleston Retail Site, the 130 acres are now referred to as Bricktown. ….

The current plan, which is being advanced by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, is for the Blumenfeld Development Group to use 42 acres for a mall with three major stores — such as Home Depot, Target and possibly Kohl’s — and the rest for ball fields and passive recreational land and a site for a school building in the future. ” ….

The plan was approved this week by the Department of City Planning and still needs the endorsement of the mayor and the City Council.”


In February 2005, NYCEDC closed on the sale of a 42-acre site to Charleston Enterprises, LLC, an affiliate of Blumenfeld Development Group, to develop the Bricktown Centre at Charleston. – Bricktown Centre at Charleston – NYCEDC.htm

The basic point is simple – public planning agencies were directly involved in the plans from day one.

9) While the “official” opening date of the Bricktown Mall was in 2007 as noted on its Wikipedia page, there are several Staten Island Advance articles that showed that Target’s was open as of March 2006. I know that other shops were open well for business before the “official open” date.

“Passarelli’s Realtor … sit across the street from Bricktown Centre, the nearly two-year-old shopping mall housing Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and a Christmas Tree Shops store.

The sprawling centers are transforming the once retail-deprived southern end of Staten Island into a commercial destination rivaling Richmond and Forest avenues. Passarelli’s Realtor is also in discussions with New York & Company, Bath & Body Works and Jos. A. Bank, the men’s clothing shop. His brick and glass storefronts sit across the street from Bricktown Centre, the nearly two-year-old shopping mall housing Target, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond and a Christmas Tree Shops store.

The sprawling centers are transforming the once retail-deprived southern end of Staten Island into a commercial destination rivaling Richmond and Forest avenues.”

South Shore growing into the place to shop – By Karen O’Shea on October 28, 2007 at 7:15 AM, Staten Island Advance

South Shore growing into the place to shop – SILive – http://www.silive.com/news/ind.....the_p.html


“The S74 runs from St. George to Tottenville but it bypasses by a half-mile both the Bricktown Center and the South Shore Commons, which house a host of commercial outlets from Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond, to Target and Panera Bread.

Giving the centers a corridor to all areas of the Island would not only make it easier to shop there, but it would make it easier for employees making $8 to $10 an hour to get to work.

“They’re short of employees by 60-percent,” said Commons developer Guido Passarelli, pointing to the Panera Bread storefront. “Employees making minimum wage can’t come by cab. Mass transit is very important.”

Yet the Transit Authority has done nothing to shorten the half-mile walk to the stores from Arthur Kill – a walk that crosses a highway exit ramp with no crosswalk and is devoid of sidewalks on both sides of the road in certain spots.”

Bus route still short-circuits shopping centers on Staten Island’s South Shore – By Jamie Lee on September 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM – Staten Island Advance


“STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island bus riders got a mixed bag of news from the MTA … buses will finally loop around the Bricktown Center mall in Charleston, sparing shoppers and employees from a half-mile-long, muddy walk along Veterans Road West to the nearest transit stop.

The move to reroute the S74/84 and S78 will benefit shoppers and employees, who will now have an easier and safer ride to Target, Home Depot and the Christmas Tree Shop, and it’s good for the economy, said Assemblyman Lou Tobacco, (R-South Shore). But, he said, “A simple solution like this — a no-brainer— should not have taken three years to get done.”

“The MTA’s focus should be offering service that brings people where they want to go, Ignizio said, noting that the bus routes in the neighborhood were mapped before the shopping center was built and weren’t changed to meet the new demand. Veterans Road West lacks sidewalks in some spots, making it even more dangerous for pedestrians walking to the bus.”

Redrawing South Shore bus routes – By Maura Yates on January 25, 2011 at 7:25 AM – Staten island Advance


10) Upon reflection I will modify my 10-years statement. I had read news articles about the shopping, bus depot and new housing for several years WELL BEFORE I visited the place. The mailed advertisements for the Christmas Tree shops gave me a reason to take a visit.

Bottom line – my basic point still stands. Here was a major planned development of housing, shopping, etc. where the need for better transportation by bus was known from the start. The idea that walking good distances to the nearby transit was seen early on as a problem. Steps could and should have been taken early on to provide for the transit. In any case, the shopping center was open for a number of years BEFORE there was direct bus transit.

John Doe May 9, 2014 - 10:57 am

How much would it cost to extend the 1 train one stop to Staten Island?

Benjamin Kabak May 9, 2014 - 11:01 am

Tunneling by itself seems to be the cheaper aspects to the MTA’s megaprojects. You’d have to find a site to build a terminal station on the SI side plus whatever ancillary structures are needed for a 5-mile tunnel under the harbor. A few billion dollars is a safe (but vague) guess.

Phantom May 9, 2014 - 2:49 pm

How much would it cost to extend the R train one stop to Dublin?

Alon Levy May 11, 2014 - 12:34 pm

The short answer: I have no idea. Sadly, I do not know of any rail tunnel of this or similar length, only of road tunnels, road-rail tunnels, and bridge-tunnels.

The long answer: similar road and road-rail projects have varied by two orders of magnitude.

The Cross-Harbor Tunnel, between Jersey City and Brooklyn, is estimated at $7.4 billion in its two-track segment. This is the headline cost I assume in most of my posts on the subject.

Two road tunnels in Norway, Bømlafjord and Eiksund, are about as long, and much deeper, going almost 300 meters below sea level; they both cost about half a billion kronor each, which after adjusting for inflation and PPP means $50-60 million each. I double-checked and I believe I did not make an order of magnitude error. Both tunnels have a total of three lanes.

An under construction road tunnel in Norway, Ryfast, consisting of two tunnels totaling 20 km (South Ferry to St. George is 8), is currently estimated at 5.22 billion kronor. That’s about $500 million. It consists of two two-lane tubes.

The Oresund Bridge-Tunnel complex consists of an 8 km bridge, a 4 km artificial island, and a 4 km tunnel, carrying two railroad tracks and four vehicle lanes. After adjusting for inflation and PPP, this is about $4.7 billion.

The Great Belt Fixed Link consists of an 8 km two-track tunnel, a 7 km four-lane bridge, and a 7-km bridge carrying both the tracks and the lanes. The rail portion was supposed to open in 1993 but was delayed to 1997 because of schedule slips. Total cost, in inflation- and PPP-adjusted dollars: $5 billion.

Tokyo Bay Aqua Line: a road bridge-tunnel, with 4.5 km of bridge and 9.5 km of tunnel, opened in 1997, for $14 billion.

Busan-Geoje Fixed Link: two bridges totaling 3.5 km, a tunnel of 3 km, plus some islands making it an 8-km project. This is a four-lane road. The cost, in PPP dollars, is $2.5 billion.

Ralfff May 11, 2014 - 4:47 pm

Two road tunnels in Norway, Bømlafjord and Eiksund, are about as long, and much deeper, going almost 300 meters below sea level; they both cost about half a billion kronor each, which after adjusting for inflation and PPP means $50-60 million each. I double-checked and I believe I did not make an order of magnitude error. Both tunnels have a total of three lanes.

oh. my. god. pack it in, America

Phantom May 9, 2014 - 11:06 am

Would it be possible to expel Staten Island from the city?

Let this guy and all his fellow perpetual whiners play footsie with Christie.

Lady Feliz May 11, 2014 - 11:14 pm


rustonite May 9, 2014 - 11:18 am

General rule: Whenever something in American politics appears incoherent, it’s about race.

New York is one of the most segregated cities in the country (not an opinion- check out the census data). Buses are generally seen by working class/middle class whites as a black/brown thing. Rail is generally not- white people love trains and streetcars. Expanded bus service on Staten Island is perceived as a threat because it might attract darker folks.

The reason Lanza et al seem incoherent on this issue is that it’s taboo for them to actually say what they thinking (that bus service will attract more black/brown people) so they have to invent other reasons, which they don’t really believe and so don’t bother to think through properly.

Phantom May 9, 2014 - 11:54 am

I don’t buy the race jive here.

I ride SI buses every so often, including the S79.

The large majority of SI bus riders are white.

Lanza is a moron and a troublemaker, and that’s really all it is.

He panders to the SI element that is opposed to everything.

Bolwerk May 9, 2014 - 12:24 pm

I concur with Phantom on this. Whites in New York certainly use buses, and there is probably little racism here (at least on Lanza’s part).

There could be a strong element of classism, however. Buses here operate very slowly, and their users naturally tend to be more desperate: older, poorer (can’t afford to live near a train, or at least their train), disabled (maybe can’t use the Subway). And of course all things being equal, rail is typically preferable.

Jeff May 9, 2014 - 11:30 am

(Most) Staten Islanders didn’t draw the short straw – they willingly picked it. If SI politicians were serious about wanting the subway to extend to their borough they’d have to be more proactive by proposing TIF district or at the minimum higher density zoning that would support such an investment.

LLQBTT May 9, 2014 - 2:03 pm

So remove the S79 ‘lite-*SBS*’. What’s the big deal here? If SI doesn’t want it, well then OK, implement somewhere where it would be welcomed, such as Utica Ave. Have Lanza fund it’s removal, and pin his name to its removal. And let the other senator pay the operating loss for the x18 out of her discretionary funds.

But here a local bus is a problem, the ‘basic’ bus service, and an express bus, the ‘premium’ service, is requested. Are we sure that there’s no socio-economic thing going on here?

Epson45 May 9, 2014 - 3:57 pm

The S79 SBS is a total joke. Its should have been a Limited Stop service as a trial then jump on a SBS bandwagon when everyone satisfy.

ajedrez May 9, 2014 - 8:09 pm

I think it’s just fine as is. I don’t think it should be called SBS because it doesn’t have the off-board fare payment, but I agree with how it’s been implemented. (Well, I’d prefer the addition of an S79A local via Great Kills, but in any case, the situation is much better than it was before).

Epson45 May 9, 2014 - 3:55 pm

The bus lane is USELESS on Richmond Avenue and Hylan Boulevard. The traffic moves along well.

pete May 9, 2014 - 9:08 pm

It seems NY Post/Daily News commentators found this blog.

Epson45 May 10, 2014 - 9:23 pm

You must be a FAUX News watcher

Quirk May 10, 2014 - 12:58 am

That too. Although I would say the absurd individuals from NYCT forums are to blame. If you want to rant and think of meaningless XYZ routes going here and there or rely have highly inaccurate information, then by all means do it there –please. There’s a reason why decent sites like Gothamist, Huffington Post or even Curbed never mention said site. Shame really that it could have been better but most of its members ruin it.

Anyway Staten Island should be part of NJ not NY.

Lady Feliz May 11, 2014 - 11:16 pm

“Anyway Staten Island should be part of NJ not NY.”

Most overused trope of the century, written by someone with zero intelligence who knows zero about New York history.

Quirk May 12, 2014 - 9:58 am

Did I hit a nerve?

Obviously, since you attacked with “insults”. What are you so upset about?

Please explain yourself with taking out your anger in such unhealthy ways, which isn’t going to be much frankly.


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