Staten Island Railway
|Staten Island Railway|
SIR train at Great Kills station
|Locale||Staten Island, New York City|
St. George (north)
21 (by April 2016)
|Opening||February 1, 1860|
|Owner||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Operator(s)||Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a division of the NYCTA|
|Rolling stock||63 modified R44 cars|
|Line length||14 mi (22.5 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||600 V DC Third rail|
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, 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 City Subway lines, and the line is included on official New York City Subway maps. Commuters who use the railway typically use the Staten Island Ferry to reach Manhattan; the line is accessible from within the Ferry Terminal and most of its trains connect with the ferry.
The Staten Island Railway provides full-time local service between Saint George and Tottenville along the east side of the borough. There is currently no subway service offered for those residents living on the western or northern sides of the borough, but Staten Island light rail is planned for these corridors. 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 (starting in fall 2015, overnight service will be on a 30-minute headway ) 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', the Green Line 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. Express service is noted on trains by the presence of a red marker with the terminal and 'express' directly underneath it.
- 1 History
- 2 Route characteristics
- 3 Personnel
- 4 Fares
- 5 Stations
- 6 Former stations on closed lines
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The first Staten Island Rail Road was incorporated in 1836. The line was planned from Vanderbilt's Landing (today's Clifton) to Tottenville. The route was to be thirteen miles long and was projected to cost $300,000. The charter was voided in 1838, because of the failure to produce to line. The Staten Island Railway was organized on August 2, 1851. William H. Vanderbilt, and island resident and son of Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt, became a member of the railway's board of directors in 1858. On February 1, 1860, the first passenger train, an inspection trip for stockholders and officials ran over the line from Vanderbilt's Landing to Eltingville. Regular passenger service began on April 23, 1860, and the line completed to Tottenville on June 2, 1860, with a formal opening of the railroad. The completion of the line to Tottenville allowed passengers a transfer to a ferry to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. On September 4, 1861, the Staten Island Railway was placed into receivership with William H. Vanderbilt to prevent the loss of the locomotives and rolling stock to creditors. After the commencement of the war, Commodore Vanderbilt lost interest in this road and ferry and handed it over to his brother Captain Jacob H. Vanderbilt, who was the president of the company until 1883. In 1865, the railway took over the operation of the NY & Richmond Ferry Company and would later assume direct responsibility for operating the ferry service to Manhattan too. The Staten Island Railway Company was reorganized at this time. The Staten Island Railway and ferry line were making a modest profit until the explosion of the "Westfield" at Whitehall Street Terminal on July 30, 1871. Mr. L. H. Meyer became the receiver, and took charge of the affairs of the company. He sold the company's property on September 7, 1872 to George Law, with the exception of the ferry boat "Westfield", which was purchased by Horace Theall. After operating the railroad and the ferry for some time Law and Theall sold out to a company largely of shareholders, Mr. Law threatening to form a company of his own, if they did not come to his terms promptly. Some of the smaller stockholders neglected to join in the purchase. The new organization was named the Staten Island Railway. Many years earlier Commodore Vanderbilt planned a scheme for building a central dock on Staten Island, for freighting and distributing passengers, somewhat of a similar plan that was later worked out by Erastus Winman; but a storm broke up and scattered the timber-work, and the scheme was abandoned, leaving only the stone foundation which is still visible at low tide, near St. George. During the Civil War, a boat connected with the Staten Island Railway, the "Southfield" was sold to the government, and was converted into a gunboat. It was destroyed during a bombardment on Mississippi. In 1876, a ferry war broke out on the North Shore of Staten Island. Commodore Garner obtained possession of the ferry against the old company, and ran the "D. R. Martin" on the East Shore, in opposition to the regular line. Garner's tragic death put a sudden end to this enterprise. Garner's boats were purchased by John H. Starin, who payed $5,000 for each of them, and he obtained a franchise, operating them until it fell into the hands of SIRT in 1884.
The Staten Island Rapid Transit Company (SIRT) was organized on March 25, 1880. The main purpose of this line was to get control of the east shore piers and ferries and connect them with a two-mile line between Vanderbilt's Landing and Tompkinsville. Staten Island businessman Erastus Winman sought to expand the line and approached Robert Garrett, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, to back the idea of a large rail terminal on the island and centralize the ferry landings, who agreed.
In the early 1880s, Erastus Wiman had an idea to centralize the ferry landings, which were about 6-8 in number at the time, into one location which is now known as St. George. Wiman explained his plan to George Law and was able to secure a water front option from him. When the option had to be renewed a second time, Law refused. It was then that a clearly desperate Wiman offered to "canonize" George Law by naming the place "St. George." Law, humored by this, granted Wiman yet another option.
Clarence T. Barrett, Henry P. Judah, and Theodore C. Vermilyen were appointed commissioners to appraise the value of the land required by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company to extend the Staten Island Railroad from Vanderbilt's Landing to Tompkinsville. Work on the line was not set to begin until the commissioners made their report. The new line, after leaving Vanderbilt's Landing, crossed the property formerly occupied by the Seaman's Retreat, but since acquired by the state by the Marine Society, then through the property of the New York Coast Wrecking Company, the lumber yards of C. C. Eddy & Sons, the carriage factory of J. Scott, the Schaeffer grounds, property represented by Coudert brothers, the grounds of George Bechtel, Rubsnin & Horrman, the brewers; S. L. Mulford & Co.'s coal and wood yard, and lands of Samuel Barton and W. Butler Duncan. The only other building upon the line besides Scott's carriage factory is a small barn on the Schaeffer grounds. The cost of the extension was estimated to be $150,000. The completion of the extension to Tompkinsville was necessary before the lease which the rapid transit company secured from the old Staten Island Railroad Company can become effective. The contract for the line was given to Smith & Ripley of this city. The work of grading began, and during the spring of 1884 was pushed forward with such energy that by the end of July the road was graded and the track laid between Vanderbilt's Landing and Tompkinsville. The line was expected to be open on September 1, 1884. The line opened one month earlier than expected, when the first Staten Island Rapid Transit locomotive and train ran over this stretch of track on July 31, 1884. It contained the managers and officers of the railroad, a few invited guests, and several passengers who had come up on the train as it came on its regular time from Tottenville. The ride took three and a half minutes. The Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company now effected a 99 years' lease of the property of the Staten Island Railway, and under this agreement, the railroad to Tottenville, and all of its appurtenances became on July 31, 1884, a part of the rapid transit system, which resulted in the consolidation of the railroad and ferry terminals in Saint George. Construction of a branch along the North Shore of Staten Island began in 1884. The SIRT wanted to have its line extend to Saint George, however there was a problem. Over most of the course of the line, it had followed the shore, along the bluffs, where ground had to be made upon to build the road. State laws were not able to grant the right to run a railroad through the property of the United States, and as a result the grounds of the lighthouse department just above Tompkinsville, posed a serious barrier. The company, however, secured an act of congress permitting them to push a tunnel through the hill a short distance back from the shore. The grant for the tunnel was surrounded with restrictions that made slow progress inevitable. Construction of the tunnel began in 1885. The tunnel was five hundred and eighty five feet long, and was protected by massive walls of masonry on the sides, and an arch of brick two feet in thickness overhead. It was wide enough to fit two trains side by side at a time. The cost of the project was $190,000.
In 1885, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad obtained a controlling interest in the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway Company through purchases of stock. On November 22, 1885, Robert Garrett leased the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Company to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) for 99 years, which allowed the B & O to have access to New York. The lease company guaranteed the principal and interest of $2,500,000 5 per cent, 40 year bonds of the Staten Island Company; these bonds were up for renegotiation. The proceeds of the sale were used for paying for waterfront property, extending along the Staten Island shore for two miles, in completing the Rapid Transit Railroad, building a bridge over the Kill Van Kull at Elizabethport, and in the construction of coal piers, round houses, and other terminal facilities.
On March 8, 1886, east shore and north shore operations were consolidated into a service out of Saint George.
In order to build a rail line across Staten Island’s north shore to reach New Jersey, rights to a horse car line running along Richmond Terrace were purchased. This road followed the shore line across Staten Island reaching a ferry to Elizabeth, NJ that had been in operation since the mid-1700s. Opposition from property owners in Sailor's Snug Harbor made the B&O build nearly two miles of rock fill out from shore and along the Kill van Kull for its tracks at the cost of $25,000. An additional obstacle in the construction of the road was a contest in litigation, in which the company was involved, in gaining a passage across the cove at Palmer's run. A strip of property was secured through the town of Port Richmond, where a number of home and business owners were displaced. At Old Place, on Staten Island’s northwestern corner, a farm was purchased and the area renamed "Arlington" by the B&O railroad. A freight yard was built in Arlington by 1886.
A small yard was built at Saint George and the North Shore Branch was completed in 1885. The Rapid Transit Railroad was open for service on February 23, 1886, and trains ran as far as Elm Park, making the time between the city and that point 39 minutes instead of an hour and a half, as it had been common in the old ferry system. The rest of the line to Arlington opened in the summer of 1886. The South Beach Branch opened on March 8, 1886, running from Vanderbilt's Landing to Arrochar. The line was extended later on to Fort Wadsworth sometime after September 1888, when it was proposed to extend the line.
The very first idea for a rail link from New Jersey to Staten Island was a B & O line directly from Philadelphia to Staten Island, but it was prohibitively expensive. The B & O was buying stock in the Reading Railroad, as was the New York Central. A second idea was to build from Bound Brook Junction to Staten Island. However, this would have bypassed the Jersey Central, in which the Reading Company was obtaining a controlling interest. In time, the Reading would construct a coal hauling branch from Bound Brook to Port Reading on the Arthur Kill, opposite Staten Island’s west shore. The final plan was to build a line east from Cranford on the Jersey Central to the Arthur Kill, through Union County and the communities of Roselle Park and Linden. Incorporated as the Baltimore & New York Railway in October 1888, construction started the following year. In October 1888, the B & O created the Baltimore & New York Railroad (B&NY), another B&O subsidiary, in order to construct this line. Construction started in 1889 and the line was completed in late 1889 and included strategic interchange points with the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley Railroads.
Just over five miles long, the line was double-tracked as far as Bantas, a little station that stood about a mile and a half from Cranford Junction. Just east of Cranford, a crossing with the Lehigh Valley and a connection made, was named Staten Island Junction. The Lehigh Vally Railroad was also under construction at the time. Another junction was built to reach the Pennsylvania at Linden. A precipitous grade lead down and north from the Baltimore & New York trestle and fill work to the east side of the PRR main line, where a small interchange yard was built. Nearly a third of this line was built on wood trestle work and bridges, from the grade east of St. George’s Avenue and onward to the Arthur Kill. Some of the wooden trestle work was filled in with cinders as time went by. A two-track, pin-connected truss bridge was built over the PRR mainline at Linden, although the line is single track at that point. The B&NY line then crossed the northwestern corner of Standard Oil’s Linden Refinery (Esso, now Exxon) with a round-about branch reaching down into the refinery. However, the Jersey Central handled the bulk of rail traffic with Standard Oil. The Baltimore & New York line ended at the Arthur Kill Bridge.
An act of congress authorizing the constructing a 500-foot swing bridge over the Arthur Kill became a law on June 16, 1886, after three years of effort by Erastus Winman, the originator and promoter of the bridge. The plans and location for the bridge were subject to the approval of the Secretary of War, who put them on hold for nine months, and agreed to the plans without change, and the construction of the bridge began immediately, in April 1887. Construction of the bridge had barely started when the State of New Jersey procured an injunction, on motion from Governor Green and Attorney General Stockton, which halted construction for six months. The injunction was stopped in the United States Circuit Court by Justice Bradley, whose opinion stated that it was the right of Congress to regulate commerce, even against the wishes of the states immediately affected. Construction on the bridge then immediately commenced through the brutal winter of 1888. It was considered absolutely necessary to complete the work through the winter because the limit of time for the completion of the bridge as set by Congress was June 16, 1888, two years after signing the bill. The bridge was completed three days early on June 13, 1888 at 3 o' clock in the afternoon. At the time the structure was the largest drawbridge ever constructed in the world. There was not a single accident in the construction of the bridge, and the builders had fear that a strike in the iron works would occur and therefore would delay the work beyond the prescribed time. The opening of the bridge was celebrated with a party going along the Arthur Kill aboard the tugboat P.J. Nevius to see the bridge thrown across the Arthur Kill for the first time. On the boat included J. Frank Emmons, President of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Company, Erastus Winman, Louis De Jonge, a director of the Staten Island Railroad, Albert S. Boardman, general counsel for the company, Frank S. Gannon, Superintendent of the railroad, and Charles Ackenheir, the engineer under whose superintendence the bridge was constructed. At 4: 15 P. M. everything was ready for the test, and slowly the bridge moved around, and swung around connecting New York and New Jersey for the first time by bridge. It took four and a half minutes the first time to turn the bridge the first time, but took only three minutes the second time. It was claimed that when the parts of the bridge were in smooth working order it would take as little as two minutes. The overall cost for the construction of the bridge was $450,000. The bridge consisted of five pieces of masonry, the center one being midstream, and on it resting was the draw. There was 208 feet on each side of the draw, and the draw span for the bridge was 500 feet, and the fixed spans 150 feet each, making the bridge 800 feet in length, to span the Arthur Kill, which was 600 feet wide. The height of the bridge was 30 feet above the low water mark. The approach for the bridge on the Staten Island side was still under construction at the time. It required four weeks to erect the draw span and put it together, and two weeks longer to put the machinery in order. Six-hundred and fifty-six tons of iron were required to construct the draw and 85 tons for each of the approaches.
Trains were planned to start running on the Arthur Kill Bridge by September 1. This date wasn't reached and the opening was delayed fifteen months to January 1, 1890, when the first train operated from Saint George Terminal to Cranford Junction, because the approaches to the Arthur Kill Bridge were not finished. The land for the approaches was low and swampy and as a result it was necessary to build 6,000 feet of trestle on the Staten Island side, and 4,000 feet on the New Jersey side. Altogether there was two miles of elevated structure.
Erastus Winman was at the throttle of the engine during the trip. Crowds gathered at the various stations from Saint George to Erastina. The officers of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway Company called the trip an inspection trip. Aboard the trip was President of the SIRT J. Frank Emmons, Chief Engineer Charles Ackenheir, who built the bridge, Secretary William Keutgen, Paymaster W. H. Prall, Lawyers Macfarland and Boardman, General Passenger Agent R. W. Pollock, Extine Norton, President of the Louisville and Nashville, Major Clarence Barrett, P. H. Marshall, General Freight Agent in New York of the Baltimore & Ohio, and Frank A. Gannon, General Superintendent of SIRT. The train left Saint George at 11 o' clock, and then went via short run, five and one quarter miles to the Arthur Kill Bridge, where the first stop was made. Here, Mr. Winman climbed into the cab, and then continued to Cranford Junction, where the line meets up with the Jersey Central Railroad. The trip back allowed for friends of the railroad to engage in speeches, and returned to Saint George at 3 o' clock.
By March 1890, the B&O line between St. George and Cranford Jct. was open to traffic. Immediately after the bridge was built, both the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania railroads brought pressure upon the U.S. War Department for its removal. They declared the new bridge to be a menace to navigation, since both roads handled a large volume of coal barge traffic past Staten Island’s Holland Hook, where the bridge was standing. The railroads petitioned to have the bridge torn down and replaced with one of a different design. Ultimately the B&O obtained approval from the U.S. Congress for its bridge, as it spanned a navigable waterway between two states.
By February 1896, the B&O found itself bankrupt. While paying dearly to reach New York, the B&O had neglected its western lines that were now in poor condition. In an attempt to refinance, J. P. Morgan intervened and replaced B&O’s top management.
The Rapid Transit Railway and all of its real and personal property held in the company, was sold at auction, at the First National Bank at Saint George, on April 20, 1899. The sale was in foreclosure proceedings in the name of Charles E. Lewis, as trustee for the holders of the secured mortgaged bonds, and the property was purchased by representatives of the B & O railroad company for $2,000,000. The bid was made by Harold Bronner, R. H. Minzer, and Frank Geary who were acting for the B & O railroad. The railroad already owned the line from Elizabethport, New Jersey to South Beach including the Arthur Kill Bridge. It was rumored that the trains of the B & O railroad would be rerouted from Communipow station to Saint George. The management at the time of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Road continued after the purchase.
20th century operation
In 1900, the B&O was put under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which made a number of improvements to the road. The PRR allowed the newly developed New Jersey, New York and Staten Island properties to remain intact. For a short while in 1900 the SIRT operated a B&O connection passenger train from St. George to Plainfield, NJ. Within a few years the B&O was profitable again and emerged from PRR control as a stronger railroad.
As of 1903, there were almost 50 daily trips on both the North Shore Branch and South Beach Branches, and 22 daily trips on the Tottenville Branch. There were also two daily express trains to Tottenville.
One of the main goals of Staten Island was municipal acquisition of the Ferry and replacement of the fleet, which came to fruition on October 25, 1905, in which the city took ownership of the ferry and terminals, wasting no time in ejecting B&O from Whitehall Street terminal. The city then spent $2,318,720 on a new St. George terminal.
By the 1910s, Staten Island was showing its shortcomings in handling B&O freight. Both Arlington and St. George Yards were choked with cars, many awaiting car float transport to West 26th Street and other connections around the harbor. To ease the load on Staten Island by 1912, the B&O again ran through freight into Jersey City on the Jersey Central. Staten Island would continue to be used as well and developed a heavy coal trade for the B&O. Staten Island’s deep water piers never generated traffic of the size experienced along the East and Hudson Rivers except in wartime.
Up until the year 1921, 3,369,400 trains had been operated on the SIRT and there had been no fatalities.
In anticipation of a tunnel under the Narrows to Brooklyn and a connection there with the New York subway system at the Bay Ridge – 95th Street station, SIRT electrified its lines using third rail power distribution and cars similar to those of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT). The Totenville Branch was electrified on July 2, 1925 and the other branches were electrified by November 1925. Arlington and Saint George Yards, along with the Mount Loretto Spur, and the Travis Branch were not electrified due to the high cost. The electrification brought no big increase in traffic, and the tunnel was never built. The Baltimore & Ohio owned both the railway and the Staten Island Ferry.
Staten Island Borough President Joseph A. Palma proposed in 1936 to extend the Staten Island Rapid Transit to Manhattan. He proposed extending the tracks across the Bayonne Bridge, using two available lanes, then going three miles, then connecting to the Jersey Central, and then via the Hudson & Manhattan (today's PATH) to Manhattan. This same proposal was brought back in 1950, by Edward Corsi, a Republican candidate for mayor.
In 1945, SIRT purchased the property of the B&NY and merged it with the Staten Island Railway.
On May 18, 1946, a strike of engineers and trainmen that had affected many other railroads in the region, such as the Hudson & Manhattan, and the Long Island Rail Road, also affected the SIRT, but service returned at 9:20 P. M., and by 10 P. M. service was back to normal on all three divisions. Crews had remained on their trains in terminals awaiting from their leaders of official notification of the truce.
On June 25, 1946, a fire wrecked the terminal at Saint George killing three people and causing damage worth $22,000,000. The loss of life would have been higher, for only a few minutes before the fire started passengers from a train that arrived from Tottenville had just came and boarded the ferry boat Miss New York. The fire destroyed the ferry terminal and the four slips used for Manhattan service, the terminal for Staten Island Rapid Transit trains, and a small building and slip owned by the city and used by the Army and Navy in transporting their men from Staten Island to the United States Naval Depot at Bayonne. Two days after the fire, the city voted $3,000,000 to start work on building a new $12,000,000 terminal, that would be opened in 1948.
On October 28, 1947, Mayor John A. Delaney and the City Commission created a plan to fight the SIRT's proposal to abandon service between the city and Tottenville. The Mayor criticized the railroad for the failing to notify the city of its intentions. On the same date, the SIRT filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission to get permission to discontinue ferry service between Tottenville and Perth Amboy, NJ. The SIRT said that the abandonment should be permitted because of "the substantial deficits being incurred in operation of the service, which covers a distance of 3,600 feet".
On May 3, 1948 the House approved a bill to permit the SIRT to widen its railroad tunnel at the Saint George Ferry Terminal. The tunnel, which was constructed under Federally-owned land would be widened 19 feet for a distance of 456 feet. The tunnel would allow the laying of a third track and permit the operation of more trains from Saint George to Tottenville and South Beach. The extra track would also facilitate better handling of trains at the ferry terminal at Saint George. The bill passed the Senate on June 1, 1948, and it was signed by President Truman on June 14, 1948.
In 1948, the city board of transportation took over all of the bus lines on Staten Island, and on July 1, 1948 the 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 and the number started decreasing with 8.7 million in 1948 and 4.4 million in 1949, as a result of rapid transit customers switching from SIRT to the buses. As a result of the 7 cent fare the SIRT announced on August 28, 1948, that it would reduce service on all three branches on September 5, 1948. Service would be reduced from 15 minute intervals in non-rush hours to 30 minutes during that time, and from 5 to 10 minutes in rush hours to 10 to 15 minutes during rush hours. The reducing of the bus fare meant that in July passenger traffic dropped 32% on the Tottenville Division and 40% on the other two divisions. The day afterwards, Borough President Cornelius A. Hall of Richmond and Staten Island civic organizations announced that they would oppose the cuts that were proposed in service. On September 2, 1948, the PSC failed to prevent the cut in SIRT service. 237 of its present 492 weekday trains would be cut and the schedule of its expresses would be reduced during rush hours. Thirty percent of the company's personnel were laid off. The cuts became effective at 3:01 A. M. on September 5, 1948, and at the same hour schedules calling for a reduction in rush hour service and the cancellation of all night trains after 1:29 A. M. On September 7, 1948, Borough President Hall of Richmond continued to rally against the cuts made by the SIRT at a Public Service Commission hearing in Manhattan. Commuters testified that trains were missing connections to ferry boats and that some trains were being held at the Saint George Terminal in the rush hour to wait for two boatloads of passengers. Previously, they said, the trains pulled out with only one boatload of passengers. On September 13, 1948 the SIRT agreed to add four trains, and to extend the schedule of four others. Bus riders were up 25% after fare cut, and passengers on the SIRT dropped.
On September 22, 1948, the Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the SIRT to abandon the ferry it had operated for 88 years between Tottenville and Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The ferry operation was transferred to Sunrise Ferries, Inc of Elizabeth, New Jersey, which had reached an agreement to lease the railway's ferry facilities at Tottenville, and to lease from Perth Amboy wharf and dock properties there. The lease with the railway was for five years and gives it the right to renew for three five year periods. The service was transferred on October 16. The schedules and the 5 cent fare for the ferry stayed the same.
Completion of the grade elimination projects at Grant City, New Dorp, Oakland Heights, Bay Terrace involving thirteen crossings, and was projected to cost $7,400,000. The project was set to begin in 1949.
On January 5, 1949, the Public Service Commission recommended that the SIRT restore the trains cut in September 1948. If the SIRT refused to restore the trains, the Public Service Commission would order the SIRT to restore the service, as then the SIRT would go on a path toward the discontinuance of service. Borough President Hall of Richmond suggested lowering the fare to 10 cents or a 20 cent round trip in order to make up the lost money. On January 29, 1949, the Public Service Commission order the SIRT to restore five trains and to reschedule seven other trains for public convenience. The PSC gave the SIRT until February 13 to carry out the order.
On May 20, 1949, it was announced that the SIRT wanted to discontinue service on all of its three branches, and that it would soon ask for permission from the PSC to do so. A major reason for the discontinuance of service was the loss of $1,061,716 in 1948. Three options would be given by the PSC; that the railway must continue its operations, have the service substituted by buses, or have the city take over the railway service as part of the municipal transit system.
On August 30, 1950, the Public Service Commission announced a new plan to eliminate grade crossings of the SIRT, which would have cost $6,500,000. The plan was only approved with the assurance from the city that if passenger service was discontinued the city would guarantee that residents of the area would not be neglected as to some form of transportation. A bridge was also proposed as part of the plan to go over the never built Willowbrook Expressway.
On June 3, 1952, the SIRT asked again to discontinue its passenger service on July 7, 1952. On June 16, 1952, the PSC ordered the SIRT to continue all of its passenger service pending a hearing before the state agency and a decision on the line's request to abandon its service.
On July 9, 1952, hearings began concerning the proposed abandonment of the road. On July 16, 1952, in the hearings, the PSC counsel stated that had the operating deficits that have been charged to the passenger service of the SIRT would disappear had the operations were included with the freight profits of the B & O Railroad in the New York area. After some hearings, the SIRT changed its planned abandonment date as September 12, 1952. The commissioner of the commission, adjourned meetings until September 17. The commissioner council, John T. Ryan, said that a provision needed to be made for an additional two months of service, that would extend service to November 12, 1952.
A modern replacement terminal for Saint George opened in 1951.
SIRT discontinued passenger service on the North Shore Branch to Arlington and the South Beach Branch to South Beach at midnight on March 31, 1953 because of city-operated bus competition; the South Beach branch was abandoned shortly thereafter while the North Shore Branch continued to carry freight. The third rail on both of the lines were removed by 1955.
On September 7, 1954, SIRT made an application to discontinue all passenger service on October 7 of the same year.
Freight, and of course WW II traffic helped pay the bills. It even put the SIRT on a profitable basis for a few years. B&O ran freight trains to Jersey City as well as to Staten Island. By that time, B&O crews could run through without changing at the various junction points. However, B&O crews did not operate into Staten Island. SIRT crews handled all the traffic to and from Cranford Junction. During WW II, the SIRT exclusively handled all east coast military hospital trains. The Stapleton piers were designated for hospital ship docking. New York was the only east coast Port of Call for European Theatre hospital ships. The hospital trains ran through to their inland connections via Cranford Junction. Some stopped at Arlington to transfer wounded servicemen to a large military hospital on Staten Island. Troop movements, POW trains and war material as well crossed the Arthur Kill to and from Cranford Junction and their appointed destinations. This kept the five mile stretch of B&O track in Union County N. J. busy and shiny. In 1944, the B&O conveyed its Baltimore & New York Railway property to the Staten Island Rapid Transit and dissolved the B&NY. The SIRT worked this line with its own as well as assigned B&O locomotives since it was opened in 1890.
Before, during WW II and after, there were a number of special trains beyond the troop movements that were handled by the B&O over its New Jersey track to Staten Island. One pre-war train was a special for Winston Churchill, taking him to a ship at Stapleton for one of his many Atlantic crossings. SIRT provided a shined-up locomotive, sporting polished rods, white driver tires and a white-uniformed engine crew for that movement.
On October 21, 1957, four years after North Shore Branch passenger trains ended, the very last SIRT special,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 meeting with President Eisenhower in Washington D.C. Their trains (press and royal) left Washington the evening of October 20 for Camp Kilmer New Jersey, traveling over the B&O and Reading Company. The movement was similar to a President of the US with extremely high security and secrecy. Both trains reached the Camp via Reading’s Port Reading Branch. At the Camp, the trains were reconfigured by dropping the two leading diesel units of each, leaving one unit each for the next part of the trip to Staten Island. This was done for passing over the Arthur Kill swing bridge which had a limited load capacity. The two lead diesel sets were then taken to Cranford Junction via the Reading and Jersey Central to await return of the equipment from Staten Island. On Monday, October 21 at 6 AM, the 10 car press train left Camp Kilmer over the Lehigh Valley to Staten Island Junction and the SIRT. Exactly one hour later, the 11 car heavy-weight Pullman-equipped royal train followed. Both specials rolled directly and non-stop into a freight yard at Stapleton. It was specially cleaned up for the occasion as was the motorcade’s route along Bay Street to St. George Ferry Terminal. As soon as the Queen’s motorcade left the yard, an SIRT switcher took each train back to Cranford Junction, hauling them in reverse. From Cranford, the equipment of both trains dead-headed to Baltimore early that afternoon.
In 1957, the aging Arthur Kill swing bridge was knocked off its center pier foundation by a passing Esso oil tanker. With the bridge rendered useless freight traffic for the island was routed through float bridges, with most of the B & O's freight traffic for the New York area forwarded through the Central Railroad of New Jersey's yards at Jersey City. The old swing bridge was replaced in 1959 with a state-of-the-art, 558 foot vertical lift bridge. The 2,000 ton lift span was prefabricated, then floated into place. Freight trains started crossing the bridge when it opened on August 25, 1959. The new bridge had space for one track.
The industrial track on the West Shore of Staten Island, the Travis Branch, built in the 1930s to Gulfport, was extended to serve a new Consolidated Edison power plant in Travis, along Staten Island's west shore. This was done for long-unit coal trains from West Virginia to the plant. Even late in the 1950s, the B&O continued to invest in its New Jersey and Staten Island holdings.
Until the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, Staten Island's only direct connection to the rest of the city and state of New York was via ferries from St. George, at the north end of the island.
The last grade railroad crossings were eliminated by 1966, but SIRT continued to lose money even as they rebuilt stations between Jefferson Avenue and New Dorp almost into the 1970s.
Rail traffic via the Arthur Kill Bridge dropped dramatically with the closing of Bethlehem Steel in 1960, and of U.S. Gypsum in 1972.
Some traffic remained for B&O operations into the 1970s on Staten Island, and car floats were still reasonably busy.
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. The B & O still retained rights to handle freight along the line to Tottenville.
Before that sale could be made final however, the B&O had to complete several miles of grade crossing elimination along the SIRT Tottenville line, this work had been held up since the 1930s in part because of the Depression, World War II and declining finances.
On June 15, 1972, 17 year old air conditioned coaches on loan from the Long Island Rail Road went into service on the SIRT. The three car train made one round trip during the morning, and operated again during the afternoon peak. As a resut of previous tests, the edges of the platforms at the Saint George Terminal were trimmed for extra clearance required for the 85 foot cars. The cars were only 15 feet longer than the 45 cars in operation, but the LIRR cars' seating capacity of 123 passengers, was almost double the limit of the other coaches.
For the first time since 1958, the fare on the SIRT was increased on September 1, 1972 to 35 cents. The increase was from an average fare of 22 cents. The fare increase applied to the whole system, and was accompanied by the elimination of commutation tickets and student tickets. Previously, fares ranged from 20 to 35 cents. 16 per cent of riders of the 17,000 daily riders had no change in fare. There was a 10 per cent increase for 51 per cent of passengers and a 15 per cent increase for the remaining 33 per cent. The fare increase was expected to bring in an extra $400,000 a year. At the time, the line was operating at a deficit of $2.9 Milion a year, with $2.5 Million of it offset by a subsidy from the city. The MTA, at the time, had plans for a $25 Million improvement program for the line, including 52 new cars, the R44s. The R44s were planned to go into service by the end of 1973. Improvements were also planned for the tower and signal systems, for the roadbed and for the stations. Increased power, 8,000 feet of new rails, and mercury-vapor lighting at 14 of the 22 stations were also part of the plan. Three quarters of the $25 Million were to be provided by 1967 state transportation bond issue. The remaining $6.25 Million was to be paid by the city.
On February 28, 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.
In 1994, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reinstituted the line's original name; the passenger portion of the line is called MTA Staten Island Railway.
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. At Tottenville, there is a three track yard, with two tracks on either side of a concrete station platform.
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 2010. 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, 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).
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.
The B & O, through a merger with the Chesapeke & Ohio Railway, became part of the larger Chessie System. The freight operation the island was renamed the Staten Island Railroad Corporation in 1971. With the establishment of Conrail from bankrupt lines of the northeast on April 1, 1976, B&O/Chessie became isolated from its New Jersey and Staten Island properties. B&O/Chessie freight service now ended at Philadelphia, although for several years afterward, competitor Conrail would forward one B&O freight train a day to Cranford Junction, with B&O locomotives run through as well.
In the mean time by 1973, the Jersey Central closed its car float yard at Jersey City. The B&O then moved its car float freight back to St. George on Staten Island. In September 1979, this car float operation was taken over by the New York Dock Railway and was terminated in 1980. The St. George Yard was essentially abandoned, except for servicing a few isolated Staten Island industries still using rail service. In April 1985 a lack of business and access forced the Chessie system to sell the Staten Island Railroad to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which was owned by the Delaware Otsego Corporation. The Susquehanna embargoed the track east of Elm Park on the North Shore Line, cutting of rail freight traffic to Saint George. Procter & Gamble the line's largest customer closed in 1990. Freight traffic dropped off considerably, and the last freight train over the bridge came in 1990, and the operation ceased on July 25, 1991, when the Arthur Kill bridge was taken out of service.
In 1994, the New York City Economic Development Corporation purchased the Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge and the North Shore branch from CSX (which acquired the rail line from the bankrupt Delaware-Otsego Corporation). This purchase was followed by nearly a decade of false starts.
With the break-up of Conrail in 1998, portions of the lines once run by B&O competitors became a part of CSX. A high voltage power line had been built over part of the former Baltimore & New York right of way several years before and had earned some rental income. The railroad line itself was intact from Cranford to Arlington. Then, the CSX started operating the former Reading, Lehigh Valley and New York Central lines among other predecessor roads.
The New York Port Authority announced plans for reopening the old SIRT New Jersey line to freight traffic. A new junction to the former Lehigh Valley would be built, since the CNJ mainline then became a New Jersey Transit operation. Two rail tunnels to Brooklyn were planned; one from Greenville, NJ, the other from Staten Island, so that New England and southern freight could again access and pass through the New York metropolitan area.
On December 15, 2004, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced a joint $72 million project to rehabilitate the Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge and reactivate freight rail service on Staten Island. Specific projects on the Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge included repainting the steel superstructure and rehabilitating the lift mechanism.
The freight line connection from New Jersey to the Staten Island Railway was completed in June 2006, and is operated in part by the Morristown and Erie Railway under contract with the State of New Jersey and other companies. 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. A portion of the North Shore Line 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.
Soon after service restarted on the line, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially commemorated the reactivation on April 17, 2007. 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.
Unlike PATH, SIR is not under FRA oversight, except for the separate restored freight service. However their new signal system complies with the FRA and the NORAC book of rules regulations, and is very similar to the older railroad signal system inherited from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) Company - the original and previous owners of this line, which do not have tripping devices and arms. Also the cab signaling on the R44's complies with same, since these cars do not have trip cocks, unlike their subway car cousins which are equipped with them for tripping the emergency brakes after passing red signals.
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 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. The new station, which can platform a four-car train, is expected to open in April 2016. 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.
Rolling stock replacement
Elected officials on Staten Island have been demanding replacement of the Staten Island Railway's aging R44 cars. The New York City Subway's R211 order may have an option to replace the R44s. Until then, the R44s are undergoing another round of SMS to extend their usefulness until at least 2021.
Restoration of the North Shore Branch
In an 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. $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.
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 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.
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.
The current head of Staten Island Railway is Douglas Connett, who holds the position Vice President and Chief Officer since his appointment in June 2015.
Until June 2005, the Staten Island Railway 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 Railway.
The cash fare stays consistent with the NYC subway fare and is $2.75. 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" 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.
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.
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).
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Time period details|
|St. George||Staten Island Ferry|
|Nassau||Will close in April 2016|
|Arthur Kill||To open in April 2016|
|Atlantic||Will close in April 2016|
- 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.
- Nassau and Atlantic will close when Arthur Kill station opens.
Former stations on closed lines
North Shore Branch
The North Shore Branch closed to passenger service at midnight on Tuesday, March 31, 1953. A small portion of the western end is used for freight service as part of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal transloading system called ExpressRail, which opened in 2007 and connects to the Chemical Coast after crossing over the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge. 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.
|0||St. George||July 31, 1884|
|0.1||RCB Ballpark||June 24, 2001||June 18, 2010|
|0.7||New Brighton||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|1.2||Sailors' Snug Harbor||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|1.8||Livingston||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|2.4||West Brighton||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|3.0||Port Richmond||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|3.4||Tower Hill||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|3.9||Elm Park||February 23, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|4.3||Lake Avenue||1937||March 31, 1953|
|4.6||Mariners Harbor||Summer 1886||March 31, 1953|
|4.9||Harbor Road||1935 – 1937||March 31, 1953|
|5.2||Arlington||Summer 1886||March 31, 1953|
South Beach Branch
The South Beach Branch opened on March 8, 1886 to Arrochar, and was extended to Fort Wadsworth sometime after September 1888, when it was proposed to extend the line. The branch closed at midnight Tuesday March 31, 1953. It was abandoned and demolished except for three segments: a concrete embankment on on Saint John's Avenue, a trestle spanning Robin Road in South Beach, and a filled-in bridge which McClean Avenue crosses over. This 4.1-mile (6.6 km) line left the Main Line at , 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 is the only remaining intact trestle along the former line. In the early 2000s developers purchased the property on either side of the trestle's abutments, but the developers, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the New York City Transit Authority all claimed ownership of it. Consequently, townhouses have built up against both sides of it.
|2.0||Bachmann||March 8, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|2.1||Rosebank||March 8, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|2.5||Belair Road||March 8, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|2.7||Fort Wadsworth||March 8, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|3.2||Arrochar||March 8, 1886||March 31, 1953|
|3.5||Cedar Avenue||March 31, 1953|
|3.9||South Beach||March 31, 1953|
|4.1||Wentworth Avenue||March 31, 1953|
Mount Loretto Spur
The Mount Loretto Spur is an abandoned branch of the Staten Island Railway whose purpose was to serve the Mount Loretto Children's Home. The spur diverged off of the Main Line south of Pleasant Plains.
West Shore Line
The Tottenville-bound track south of Richmond Valley has a non-electrified spur that once ran all the way to the Arthur Kill. The spur was built in the mid 1920s and dubbed by the B&O as the West Shore Line. The B&O delivered building materials to the Outerbridge Crossing construction site near the Kill. Later on, the track served a small scrapyard owned by the Roselli Brothers. The track remains intact today all the way to Page Ave. The switch at the spur is well kept and working.
- North Shore Branch: Procter & Gamble, United States Gypsum, Staten Island Ship Building, Car float
- Travis Branch: Gulf Oil Port, Con Edison coal plant
- Tottenville Line: Nassau Smelting, Staten Island Advance, Pouch Terminal
- South Beach Branch: Bachmann's Brewery
- Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- Staten Island Railway
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- Gary Owen's SIRT South Beach Line Tribute Page
- Gary Owen's SIRT North Shore Tribute Page
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