not so fast

Staten Islanders Say Innovative Bus Route Crosses a Line

A former viaduct station on Staten Island’s North Shore that would be converted into an express bus route.
A former viaduct station on Staten Island’s North Shore that would be converted into an express bus route. Photo: MTA New York City Transit

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Some Staten Islanders are railing against a crucial leg of the route for a new type of express bus planned for the borough’s North Shore.

Leaders of Community Board 1 have no problem with the 7.5 miles of the innovative busway path that would ply old railroad lines and elevated viaducts. But they’ve got a problem with the last half-mile, which would employ dedicated lanes along busy Richmond Terrace.

The board recommended that the busway be rerouted onto the pedestrian waterfront esplanade near the new Empire Outlets mall — or onto a ramp placed above the Staten Island Railway station at the St. George Ferry Terminal.

“We are happy with the plan and it’s a viable plan that will help with commutes, but it doesn’t need to be on that street,” said Nicholas Zvegintzov, who heads CB1’s transportation committee.

Board members fear the planned Richmond Terrace stretch would hamper car access to the mall, Borough Hall, the 120th Precinct station house and a parking garage. They also cited the potential loss of about 200 parking spaces and a bike lane.

The proposed North Shore Bus Rapid Transit project would take over an unused viaduct.
The proposed North Shore Bus Rapid Transit project would take over an unused viaduct. Photo: MTA New York City Transit

While the so-called Bus Rapid Transit project has yet to be funded, the MTA released details last month. CB1’s transportation committee sent a letter to the agency last week, calling including Richmond Terrace in the route “absolutely unacceptable.”

Public Hearing Planned

From West Shore Plaza to the St. George Ferry Terminal, the proposed bus line would travel northeast on South Avenue for 2.2 miles before using the former railbed of the old North Shore Branch of the Staten Island Railroad for 5.3 miles.

An original plan had the bus line continuing along the tracks to the ferry terminal, but the construction of Empire Outlets and other waterfront projects forced the MTA to propose a dedicated busway along Richmond Terrace.

An MTA spokesperson told THE CITY that the agency is taking the board’s complaints into account.

“We are aware of the community’s concerns and will take them under consideration as we do all public input during the outreach process of the North Shore study,” said the spokesperson, Amanda Kwan.

The  public hearing on the Bus Rapid Transit plan is set for Oct. 17 at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The public comment period concludes on Nov. 18, with a new draft of the plan scheduled for a December release.

The plan for a bus rapid transit system on Staten Island has been nearly a decade in the making. It was born out of the 2012 Staten Island North Shore Alternative Analysis study, which recommended several new transit options between West Shore Plaza and the ferry terminal.

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