Staten Island Pols Not Walking the Transit Talk

On Staten Island, traffic congestion is both a way of life and a perennial complaint. Six of the 15 editorials in the Staten Island Advance this month have been about transportation, and the paper — and Island citizens and elected officials — regularly call for both better transit and better roads.

But lately, transportation policy on Staten Island has been moving in a counterproductive direction, and the borough’s elected officials are to blame.

After meeting with borough officials, NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Stan Gee said this week that the agency will widen a 1.2-mile section of the Staten Island Expressway. But a project to extend the SIE bus lane to the Goethals Bridge has fallen out of the NYSDOT capital program; the lane will be extended only to Richmond Ave. The agency has already opened the bus lane to cars with at least two occupants during peak periods, and hasn’t publicly documented how the change is affecting bus commuters.

The city has gotten its share of pressure as well. This week Borough President James Molinaro held a rally calling for wider roads (some residents used the opportunity to call for more sidewalks). Meanwhile, many of the borough’s city, state, and federal elected officials are opposing a potentially transformative NYCDOT plan for a median busway on Hylan Blvd. City Councilman James Oddo recently called bike lanes on Staten Island an example of “misguided priorities.”

These are poor decisions that will worsen transit service and make it harder to get around on foot and by bicycle, driving borough transit riders back into their cars. As such, they probably won’t help traffic in the short run and certainly won’t fix congestion in the long run, especially with more traffic projected to come to Staten Island with the opening of a wider replacement Goethals Bridge. The Goethals replacement study shows that the most effective traffic-busting measures are transit improvements, like an SIE bus lane (or bus/carpool lane that requires at least 3 occupants in a vehicle) stretching from the Goethals to the Verrazano and beyond.

4 Comments on "Staten Island Pols Not Walking the Transit Talk"

  1. anonymous | July 15, 2009 at 5:50 pm |

    Ignoring transit, bicycle and pedestrian access is a great way to convince people to stay the heck out of Staten Island. Keep up the good work.

  2. Staten Island’s lack of a street grid makes an extensive bus network a physical impossibility. Staten Island will always be the most auto-dependent borough for intra-borough travel.

    The median busway on Hylan would have required passengers to board in the middle of the 4 to 6 lane roadway. In addition the busway was to be used for the S79 local route only. It would have taken two lanes from Hylan, which only would have the undesired effect of slowing down the express buses that far more Staten Islanders depend on.

  3. With all four members of the borough’s Assembly delegation on the transportation committee, “It’s the largest, loudest voice we’ve had in decades,” said Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/ Brooklyn).

    That’s the worst news all week! How come nobody pointed this out in January?

    Oh, and Nick, get a clue. Staten Island has an extensive bus network. All people have to do is use it when they’re not commuting to work.

  4. Clark Morris | July 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm |

    Might Hylan Boulevard be better suited to a streetcar line? It would be faster than the bus and attract more people.

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