Staten Island Railway

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Staten Island Railway
SIR logo.svg
SIR 448 at Great Kills Station.jpg
SIR train at Great Kills station
Overview
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Locale Staten Island, New York City
Termini Tottenville (south)
St. George (north)
Stations 22
Services 1
Operation
Opening 1860
Owner Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Operator(s) Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, a division of MTA NYC Transit
Rolling stock 63 R44SI cars
Technical
Line length 14 mi (22.5 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius (?)
Electrification 600 V DC Third rail
Route map
Staten Island Railway Map (alt3).png
Note: Ballpark station no longer served.

The Staten Island Railway (SIR) is the only rapid transit line in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Service on the line is provided 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Operated by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it is considered a standard railroad line, but only freight service which runs along the western portion of the North Shore Branch is connected to the national railway system.

SIR operates with modified R44 New York City Subway cars,[1] and is run by the New York City Transit Authority, an agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and operator of the New York City Subway. However, there is no direct rail link between the SIR and the subway system proper. SIR riders do get a free transfer to New York subway lines, and the line is included on official New York City Subway maps.[2] Commuters who use the railway typically use the Staten Island Ferry to reach Manhattan; the line is accessible from within the Ferry Terminal.

The Staten Island Railway provides full-time local service between Saint George and Tottenville along the east side of the borough. The line has a route bullet similar to other subway routes: the letters SIR in a blue circle. It is used only on timetables and on the MTA's site, not on trains. The line runs 24 hours a day and is one of only six mass-transit rail lines in the United States to do so (the others being the PATCO Speedline, the Red and Blue Lines of the Chicago 'L', certain lines of the Minneapolis-St. Paul METRO, the PATH lines, and the New York City Subway).

On weekdays, express service to St. George is provided between 6:17 AM and 8:17 AM and to Tottenville from 7:06 AM to 8:06 AM and 4:31 PM to 7:51 PM. Morning express trains run non-stop between St. George and New Dorp; afternoon express trains run non-stop from St. George to Great Kills southbound only.[3] Express service is noted on trains by the presence of a red marker with the terminal and 'express' directly underneath it.

History[edit]

Until the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, Staten Island's only direct connection to the rest of New York — city and state — was ferries from St. George, at the north end of the island.[4]

SIRT timetable, circa 1867

In 1885 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) purchased the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway (SIRT), which had a short line of its own between Tompkinsville and Clifton on the northeast shore of Staten Island and leased the Staten Island Railway, a line from Clifton to Tottenville, at its southern tip. (The railway had been completed in 1860 and was one of Cornelius Vanderbilt's early properties.)[5] B&O's intention was to build freight and passenger terminals on Staten Island; purchase of SIRT gave B&O waterfront property on New York Bay. SIRT built a line west to the Arthur Kill Bridge in 1889 at the same time the Baltimore & New York Railroad (B&NY), another B&O subsidiary, constructed a connecting line from Cranford Junction on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. SIRT built a short line from Clifton to South Beach in 1892.[6]

Old Town powerhouse

In anticipation of a tunnel under the Narrows to Brooklyn and a connection there with the New York subway system, SIRT electrified its lines in 1925 using third rail power distribution and cars similar to those of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT). The electrification brought no big increase in traffic, and the tunnel was never built.[7] The Baltimore & Ohio owned both the railway and the Staten Island Ferry.[8]

The timetable for 15 October 1940 shows 248 trains leaving St George each weekday (Mon-Fri): 80 to Tottenville, 4 to Great Kills, 82 to South Beach, 79 to Arlington and 3 to Port Ivory.

In 1944 SIRT purchased property of the B&NY and merged the Staten Railway. In 1963 the railroad discontinued its ferry service between Tottenville and Perth Amboy Ferry Slip at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The terminal at St. George was destroyed by fire in 1946; a modern replacement opened in 1951.

On 1 July 1948 bus fare on Staten Island dropped from 5 cents per zone (20 cents Tottenville to the ferry) to 7 cents for the whole island, or 12 cents including a Manhattan subway ride. In 1947 SIRT carried 12.3 million passengers; in 1948, 8.7 million; in 1949, 4.4 million.[9]

SIRT discontinued passenger service on the lines to Arlington and South Beach on March 31, 1953 because of city-operated bus competition; the South Beach branch was abandoned shortly thereafter while the Arlington branch continued to carry freight.[6]

In October 1957, four years after North Shore Branch passenger trains ended, a train from Washington crossed the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge carrying Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to the Staten Island Ferry for a state visit.[10]

The last railroad crossings were eliminated by 1966, but SIRT continued to lose money. On January 1, 1970, New York City's lease of the St. George-Tottenville line was terminated; after that date the city reimbursed the railroad for its passenger deficits. On July 1, 1971 operation of the Tottenville line was turned over to the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, a division of the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the line itself was purchased by the city of New York. In March 1973 new R44 cars — the same as the newest cars then in use on the subway lines in the other boroughs — were pressed into service on the Staten Island line, replacing the PS Standard rolling stock that had been inherited from the B&O and had remained in continuous service since 1925.[1][11][12]

Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles
Year Traffic
1925 67
1944 81
1960 37
1967 38
Source: ICC annual reports

Current status[edit]

Passenger[edit]

Today, only the north-south Main Line is in passenger service. The terminal station at St. George provides a direct connection to the Staten Island Ferry. At St. George there are twelve tracks, only ten of which are presently used for service.[13] At Tottenville there is a three track yard, with two tracks on either side of a concrete station platform. Schedules are made by NYCT's Operations Planning unit. The last passenger trains on both the North Shore and South Beach Branches ran on March 31, 1953. The right-of-way of the South Beach Branch was eventually de-mapped and the tracks have been removed. The North Shore and Travis Branches saw freight service temporarily suspended beginning in 1991. Freight service along the Travis Branch and the westernmost portion of the North Shore Branch was restored by 2007. Along the remainder of the North Shore Branch, tracks and rail overpasses still exist in some places. In 2001, a small section of the easternmost portion of the North Shore Branch (a few hundred feet) was reopened to provide passenger service to the new Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees minor-league baseball team; however, this service was discontinued in 2009. Plans to reopen the remainder of the North Shore Branch, to both freight and passenger service, are being studied, with one plan calling for the line to resume full operations between St. George and Arlington or Port Ivory,[14] with even the possibility of through service between Arlington/Port Ivory and Tottenville, which the aforementioned Ballpark wye makes feasible (this did not exist prior to the 1953 discontinuance of passenger service on the North Shore Branch).

Staten Island Rapid Transit, 1952

Freight[edit]

The railroad was changed to Staten Island Railroad Corporation in 1971. In 1985 Staten Island Railroad was purchased by the Delaware Otsego Corporation.[6] Freight traffic dropped off considerably, and the operation ceased in 1991.[15] The freight line connection from New Jersey to the Staten Island Railway was restored in late 2006, and is operated in part by the Morristown and Erie Railway under contract with the State of New Jersey and other companies.[16] The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge which transports trains from Staten Island to New Jersey over the Arthur Kill waterway was renovated in 2006 and began regular service on April 2, 2007, 16 years after the bridge closed.[17] A portion of the North Shore of the Staten Island Railway was rehabilitated, the Arlington Yard was expanded, and 6,500 feet (1,981 m) of new track was laid along the Travis Branch to Fresh Kills.[18] Soon after service restarted on the line Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg officially commemorated the reactivation on April 17, 2007.[19] On behalf of the City of New York, the New York City Economic Development Corporation formed an agreement with CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Conrail to provide service over the reactivated line to haul waste from the Staten Island Transfer Station and ship container freight from the Howland Hook Marine Terminal and other industrial businesses.

FRA oversight[edit]

Unlike PATH, SIR is not under FRA oversight,[20][21] except for the separate restored freight service.

Rail Road Police[edit]

Staten Island Rapid Transit Police Patch

Until June 2005 the Staten Island Railroad had a 25 officer RailRoad Police force known as the "Staten Island Rapid Transit Police". On June 1, 2005 they were merged into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police creating the MTA Police District #9 which covered the Staten Island Railroad.

Characteristics[edit]

New Dorp station

In general appearance, the current operating line of SIR looks somewhat like an outdoor line of the New York City Subway. Since the 1960s it has been grade separated from all roads, but it runs more or less at street level for a brief stretch north of Clifton, between the Grasmere and Old Town stations, and from south of the Pleasant Plains station to Tottenville, the end of the line. It uses NYC Transit-standard 600 V DC third rail power. Its equipment is specially modified subway vehicles, purchased at the same time as nearly identical cars for NYCT. Heavy maintenance of the equipment is performed at the NYCT's Clifton Shops. Any work that cannot be performed at Clifton requires the cars to be trucked over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the subway's Coney Island Complex shops in Brooklyn.[22]

The right-of-way also includes elevated, embankment and open-cut portions, and a tunnel near St. George.

Over the years there have been several proposals for connecting the SIR with the subway system (including the incomplete Staten Island Tunnel and a possible line along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge), as it uses B Division-sized cars and loading gauge, but various economic, political, and engineering difficulties have prevented this from happening.[23][24]

Fares[edit]

The cash fare is $2.50. Fares are paid on entry and exit only at St. George and Tompkinsville. Rides not originating or terminating at St. George or Tompkinsville are free. Prior to the 1997 introduction of "one-fare zone"[25] that came along with free transfers from the SIR to the subway system and MTA buses by using the MetroCard, fares were collected by the conductors on the trains for passengers boarding at stops other than St. George.[12]

In the past, passengers often avoided paying the fare by exiting at Tompkinsville, and taking a short walk to the St. George ferry terminal. Because of this, the MTA installed turnstiles at Tompkinsville, along with a new stationhouse which opened on January 20, 2010.[26][27] There is discussion of restoring fare collection along the entire line.

Fare is payable by MetroCard. Since this card enables free transfers for a continuing ride on the subway and bus systems, for many more riders there is effectively no fare at all for riding SIR. Riders are also allowed to transfer between a Staten Island bus, SIR, and a Manhattan bus or subway near South Ferry. Because of this, the SIR's farebox recovery ratio in 2001 was 0.16—that is, for every dollar of expense, 16 cents was recovered in fares, the lowest ratio of MTA agencies (part of the reason the MTA wishes to merge the SIR with the subway proper is to simplify the accounting and subsidization of what is essentially a single line).[28]

Stations[edit]

Staten Island Railway
North Shore Branch
12.2 CranfordRaritan
11.7 Lehigh Line
Garden State Parkway
NE CorridorCoast Line
U.S. Route 1/9
9.2 Linden Yard
I-95
Chemical Coast Line
6.8 Arthur Kill Bridge (NYNJ)
Howland Hook
6.1 Port Ivory
Travis Branch
National Grid
Travis
Arlington Yard (freight)
5.2 Arlington
4.9 Harbor Road
Union Avenue
4.6 Mariners' Harbor
4.3 Lake Avenue
3.9 Elm Park
Rt. 440Bayonne Bridge
3.4 Tower Hill
3.0 Port Richmond
2.4 West New Brighton
1.8 Livingston
1.2 Sailors' Snug Harbor
0.7 New Brighton
North Shore Branch gap
RCB Ballpark
Staten Island Ferry
0.0 St. George
North Shore Branch abandoned
Post office
Tompkinsville
Stapleton
Clifton
South Beach Branch
2.0 Bachmann
2.1 Rosebank
Hylan Boulevard
2.5 Belair Road
2.7 Fort Wadsworth
I-278 (Staten Island Expressway)
3.2 Arrochar
3.5 Cedar Avenue
3.9 South Beach
4.1 Wentworth Avenue
Grasmere
Old Town
Dongan Hills
Jefferson Avenue
Grant City
New Dorp
Oakwood Heights
Bay Terrace
Great Kills
Eltingville
Annadale
Huguenot
Prince's Bay
Mt. Loretto orphanage (closed)
Pleasant Plains
Richmond Valley
West Shore Line
Page Avenue
Nassau
Arthur Kill(under construction)
Atlantic
Tottenville
Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Station closed Future station
Time period details
Stations Handicapped/disabled access Notes
Staten Island
Stops all times St. George Handicapped/disabled access Staten Island Ferry
Stops all times Tompkinsville
Stops all times Stapleton
Stops all times Clifton
Stops all times Grasmere
Stops all times Old Town
Stops all times Dongan Hills Handicapped/disabled access
Stops all times Jefferson Avenue
Stops all times Grant City
Stops all times New Dorp
Stops all times Oakwood Heights
Stops all times Bay Terrace
Stops all times Great Kills Handicapped/disabled access
Stops all times Eltingville
Stops all times Annadale
Stops all times Huguenot
Stops all times Prince's Bay
Stops all times Pleasant Plains
Stops all times Richmond Valley
Stops all times Nassau Will close in 2015
Station closed Arthur Kill Handicapped/disabled access To open in 2015
Stops all times Atlantic Will close in 2015
Stops all times Tottenville Handicapped/disabled access

Notes:

  • Under four-car operation, the last car does not open at these stations:
    • At Clifton in St. George-bound trains because of a large gap between the platform and the rear car of the train.
    • At Grasmere due to construction.
    • At Richmond Valley in either direction.
  • Only one door opens at Atlantic and Nassau; the conductor leaves the cab and manually keys open a door.[29]
  • Nassau and Atlantic will close when Arthur Kill station opens.

Former stations on closed lines[edit]

North Shore Branch[edit]

The abandoned North Shore Branch. The Bayonne Bridge can be seen in the background.

The North Shore Branch closed to passenger service at midnight on Tuesday March 31, 1953. A small western portion is used for freight service, and a smaller eastern portion provided seasonal service to the RCB Ballpark (where the Staten Island Yankees play) passenger station from 2001 to 2009. Restoration is being discussed along this mostly abandoned 6.1-mile (9.8 km) line as part of the Staten Island light rail plan.[14]

South Beach Branch[edit]

The South Beach Branch closed at midnight Tuesday March 31, 1953. It was abandoned and demolished except for a remaining stanchion on St. John's Avenue, as well as the Robin Road Trestle and a filled-in bridge which McClean Avenue crosses over.[30][31] This 4.1-mile (6.6 km) line left the Main Line at 40°37′08″N 74°04′18″W / 40.61889°N 74.07167°W / 40.61889; -74.07167, south of the Clifton station, and lay to the east of the Main Line.

While the entire right of way has been redeveloped, most of the former right of way is still traceable on maps today. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll plaza sits on the former ROW. The Robin Road Trestle survives at 40°35′38.5″N 74°3′57″W / 40.594028°N 74.06583°W / 40.594028; -74.06583

Industries serviced[edit]

Future service[edit]

Future stations[edit]

The MTA broke ground on a new, $15.3 million, ADA compliant station named Arthur Kill, near the southern terminus of the present line on October 18, 2013. The constructor is John P. Picone, Inc., which was awarded the contract July 31, 2013[32] It is sited between, and will replace both the Atlantic and Nassau stations, which are in the poorest condition of all the stations on the line.[29] The new station, which can platform a four-car train, is expected to open in 2015. MTA will also provide parking for 150 automobiles across the street.

There is also discussion of rebuilding a Rosebank station, which will bridge the longest gap between two stations (Grasmere and Clifton). A Rosebank station once existed on the now-defunct South Beach Branch of the railway.[33]

Car Replacement[edit]

Elected officials on Staten Island have been demanding replacement of the fleets aging R44 subway cars. The SIR is the last major Transit Authority user of this aging fleet. Assemblyman Joe Borelli has exposed the MTA for replacing nearly every existing R44 car in the MTA's service except those on Staten Island.

Restoration of North Shore branch[edit]

The 2006 report, Staten Island Advance explored the restoration of passenger services on 5.1-mile (8.2 km) of the North Shore Branch between St. George Ferry Terminal and Arlington station. Completion of the study is necessary to qualify the project for the estimated $360 million. A preliminary study found that ridership could hit 15,000 daily.[14] $4 million of federal funding was requested for a detailed feasibility study.

In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released an analysis of transportation solutions for the North Shore, which included proposals for the reintroduction of heavy rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit using the North Shore line's right-of-way. Other options included transportation systems management which would improve existing bus service, and the possibility of future ferry and water taxi services. Bus rapid transit was the preferred for its cost and relative ease of implementation, which would require $352 million in capital investment. The analysis evaluated the alternatives according to their ability to "Improve Mobility", "Preserve and Enhance the Environment, Natural Resources and Open Space", and "Maximize Limited Financial Resources for the Greater Public Benefit". The project has yet to receive funding.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b nycsubway.org - R44 car information
  2. ^ "Subway Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. February 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  3. ^ "MTA Staten Island Railway Timetable, Effective June 15, 2014". New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  4. ^ Baxter, Raymond J.; Adams, Arthur G. (1999), Railroad Ferries of the Hudson and Stories of a Deckhand, Fordham University Press, ISBN 978-0-8232-1954-4 
  5. ^ Reynolds, Kirk; Oroszi, Dave, Baltimore and Ohio, ISBN 978-0-7603-2929-0 
  6. ^ a b c Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 312–314. ISBN 0-89024-072-8. 
  7. ^ "Baltimore and Ohio to Operate on Staten Island". The New York Times. October 23, 1895. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 
  8. ^ For equipment roster, see "Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. Summary of Equipment No. 31, January 1, 1932," (1998, Trains and Stuff Ltd.).
  9. ^ Railway Age 11 Aug 1952
  10. ^ Forgotten New York: Staten Island Railway http://forgotten-ny.com/2007/01/stations-of-the-staten-island-railway-pt-1-and-the-neighborhoods-they-inhabit-2/
  11. ^ Peggy Darlington. "North Shore Line". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  12. ^ a b David Paul Gerber. "Staten Island Railway". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  13. ^ David Paul Gerber. "Main Line". Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  14. ^ a b c Yates, Maura; Helsel, Phil (July 12, 2008). "Reality check for Staten Island's rail plans". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  15. ^ "Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  16. ^ "New Jersey short line to operate county-owned lines". July 8, 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  17. ^ "New York City welcomes back Staten Island Railroad". April 19, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  18. ^ "NYCEDC – About Us – Our Projects – Completed Projects – Staten Island Railroad Reactivation". Retrieved 2009-03-07. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Officially Reactivates the Staten Island Railroad" (Press release). New York City Mayor's Office. April 17, 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration: Exploring How to Make System Safety Work in Transit; Page 1". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  21. ^ "Federal Railroad Administration: Passenger Rail; Chapter 1". Retrieved 2011-09-22. 
  22. ^ "Coney Island Complex". Retrieved 2009-02-24. 
  23. ^ A Tunnel from Staten Island to Brooklyn?
  24. ^ Kuntzman, Gersh (November 10, 2007). "Fidler's folly: Let's tunnel to SI!". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 2010-01-23. 
  25. ^ "Mayor's Message". June 29, 1997. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  26. ^ S.I. Railway to Close Walking Loophole
  27. ^ Fare-saving walk now less of a bargain for Staten Island commuters
  28. ^ "MTA to merge agencies into five companies". October 11, 2002. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  29. ^ a b "Groundbreaking for New MTA Staten Island Railway Arthur Kill Station in Tottenville". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 18, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T. South Beach Line Page". Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  31. ^ "Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T. South Beach Line Page". p. 2. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  32. ^ It's official: New Staten Island Railway access for Tottenville
  33. ^ DAnna, Ed A. (May 15, 2008). "A rail station for Rosebank?". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  34. ^ MTA - Planning Studies. Mta.info (2009-09-09). Retrieved on 2014-06-23.

External links[edit]