taking off

MTA Floats Staten Island High-Speed Busway to Newark Airport

Riders board an SBS express bus
Riders board an SBS express bus Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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A high-speed bus linking Staten Island to Newark Airport is being considered by the MTA for a swath of the borough with limited transit options.

The potential route from Tottenville to Newark Liberty International Airport is among a pair preliminarily picked by the agency as part of its West Shore transit alternatives analysis.

A second bus rapid transit line option could someday connect the Staten Island Railway’s Arthur Kill station to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in Bayonne.

“I’m open to anything that can get my constituents to work faster and with less aggravation,” said Assemblymember Michael Reilly, a Republican who represents Staten Island’s South Shore, which includes Tottenville.

‘Like Our Own Train’

As part of its study on how to boost service in a part of the island with historically few commuting options, the MTA trimmed 18 possible routes on multiple modes of transportation to a shortlist of six before settling on the two bus rapid routes.

The proposed route to the airport would begin in Tottenville near Arthur Kill and connect to the Goethals Bridge and the New Jersey Turnpike, via nearly 10 miles of bus lanes.

The MTA says the Tottenville-Newark route could connect to the North Shore’s proposed bus rapid transit route, which aims to take advantage of five miles of dedicated roadway along old railroad lines to get commuters to the St. George Ferry Terminal faster.

A passenger waits for a St. George-bound Staten Island Railway train at Arthur Kill, near where the MTA hopes to put a new busway.
A passenger waits for a St. George-bound Staten Island Railway train at Arthur Kill, near where the MTA hopes to put a new busway. Photo: Clifford Michel/THE CITY

The second route selected by the MTA also would begin at the SIR Arthur Kill stop and ply a dedicated right-of-way for 10.8 miles along the Korean War Veterans Parkway, Richmond Avenue and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway.

From Walker Street in Elm Park, the bus would travel two miles in mixed traffic across 13 stops and the Bayonne Bridge to connect to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail’s 8th Street Station in Bayonne.

“That would honestly be a dream. It would be like having our own train line,” said Rabana Arif, a student at the College of Staten Island who lives in Tottenville.

Still Unfunded

The MTA is expected to select its preferred alternatives by the end of April, but the timeline beyond that remains unclear.

The project currently lacks funding for its environmental impact study, a critical step.

A group of eight Staten Island lawmakers, led by Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island/South Brooklyn), penned a letter to MTA Chair Patrick Foye on Jan. 28 calling for the study to be fully funded.

“Over half of all Staten Island residents work outside the island with commuting times over twice as long,” the letter reads. “A failure to begin this study immediately would condemn our constituents to the same congestion problems and lack of options we have endured for far too long.”

An MTA spokesperson confirmed that the agency received the letter, but didn’t comment further.

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