41 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A New Express Bus Network for Staten Island”

  1. With the elimination of route 99 hardly being noticed, it make me wonder what other routes could be easily deleted. The route 9 is superfluous. The saved hours from unnecessary routes should be given to underserved communities like Medina, Somerset, West Lake Sammamish, Hilltop, and Newport Shores.

    1. Is this satire? Having lived in Somerset for most of my life, and having takwn plenty of 246’s, I can tell you that even before they reduced service, I was often the only person on the bus by the time it got to the Somerset segment.

      Somerset is poorly served for a reason. It’s wealthy, so most transit riders are by choice. But those riders use Eastgate for the most part.

      Now admittedly I’ve only taken the 9 a few times, but each time it was well utilized.

      Also, Medina is really well served by the 271?

      1. Not satire. This site has enough people advocating for the poor. I advocate for the wealthy.

        And, duly noted. Now excellent transit can be defined as one route (in this case, the 271), that skims the periphery of a town. It would take Bill Gates over a half hour to walk to the nearest 271 stop.

    2. It would be better to remove the routing of the 106 north of Mt. Baker, as it’s only purpose is redundancy, and reinvest that into more hours on the 9, which clearly has a major purpose in a transit grid. Better yet, delete the 9 (which is mostly duplicative with the 7), and send a frequent 106 up Broadway like the 9, adding a frequent North – South connection from the Rainier Valley to Capitol Hill, while having the least duplication.

    1. I was being conservative with SC overages in a previous post:

      Metro buses $5.00.
      Link $4.00
      *FHSC 4.60 currently
      *FHSC-CCC 3.00
      Sounder 12.00 (Taxes are paying $350.00/mo to move these folks around. Move to city bums)
      ST Express 7.00

      * Based on the following criteria:
      Tacoma Streetcar $4.60
      Portland Max/streetcar combined is $3.00 from which I was able to extrapolate a cost of $3.50 for the
      CCC will bring down FHSC below Portland levels given near double the ridership

      1. Portland Streetcar is $3.80 per boarding

        MAX is $3.20, but the average passenger travels much further, so the cost measured on a passenger-mile basis is a fraction of the streetcar:

        One unknown bit is how much more road maintenance costs would be if Portland streetcar were to be a bus.

      2. @les,

        Interesting. So the much maligned FHSC is already outperforming a Metro bus. That is good news.

        I think your cost/boarding data for SLU and FHSC indicate exactly why we need to go forward with the CCC. Because having two separate, and short lines, robs the system of the economics it deserves. Building the CCC not only makes sense for the CCC, but it also makes sense for the SLU and FH SC’s. The economics of the whole system improves, and improves to a level much better than what you can attain with a bus.

    2. Also, I was being conservative with Seattle’s streetcar.

      Tacoma Link is only running 2800 riders so $4.60 is a very high estimate.

      Seattle’s streetcars are currently running at about 5000 and trending upward.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle’s current lines are close to $4.00.

    3. The article is wrong on so many levels. While streetcars, in general, *can* offer greater passenger capacity per vehicle than buses, ours do not. In fact, our existing streetcars offer *less* passenger capacity per trip than a 60-foot articulated bus.

      Second, for people that really need to get somewhere vs. just ride around in circles, your choice of travel comes down to minimizing travel time – not bus vs. streetcar. The existing streetcar lines don’t even complete well with walking (after factoring in time to walk to the streetcar and wait for it), and the CCC won’t improve it all that much.

      On the contrary, the article ignores many disadvantages of streetcar that are inherent to running on rails. Streetcars cost a ton of up-front money to build tracks, rather than piggypack on existing streets, while still operating in mixed traffic (and even the exclusive section on 1st Ave., streetcars still have to wait at all the stoplights). Streetcar stations require the doors to open at an exact spot, so, unlike a bus, which can open its doors one car length behind the bus stop while the car in front of it waits for a red light, the streetcar has to sit and wait for the light to change and the cars to move, then inch forward, open the doors, then when it’s time to start moving again, the light changes and the streetcar has to wait again. Streetcars are also more expensive than buses to produce, and ours don’t even offer greater passenger capacity (and if you wanted to improve capacity, boosting frequency is a way to do it with better rider experience than larger vehicles). Streetcars also require tracks to get between the service area and the maintenance barn, which means the maintenance barn must be built on expensive downtown land. Not only does the land cost a fortune, but it removes the parcel from the tax rolls, starving the city of revenue, and prevents the land from being used by more productive purposes, such as actual homes and businesses. Buses, by contrast, can work out of a base in the suburbs where the land is cheap, and zip between the base and the service area on the freeway. In addition, buses are more resilient to disruptions – for instance, an accident or illegally parked car blocking the street, buses can go around. On the hand, with the streetcar, a single car parking two inches over line shuts down the entire streetcar line. Yes, parking over the line is illegal, and, yes, cars that do it will get towed, but that at the of the day, the streetcar is still shut down for however long it takes until the tow truck arrives, whereas a bus would have been able to just go around it no meaningful delay.

      There is probably more than I’m missing here. Even with the federal subsidies, the city’s share, alone, is not worth the cost. There are plenty of other transit-related things that $50 million could be spent on that would yield much better results. A random example off the top of my head – in Belltown, buses currently have to do an around-the-block jog from 3rd to 1st to turn left on Denny because the street has no signal at Denny/3rd to allow buses to make the left turn there. A portion of the streetcar money could go towards installing that signal (with transit priority, of course). This would make a real difference to real riders.

      1. @asdf2,

        Not true. Our current SC’s are comperable to a bus in capacity, if not slightly higher in capacity. And you are ignoring the fact that the SC’s for the CCC will be somewhat longer than our current SC’s and therefore of even higher capacity.

        And as the article states, rail actually draws higher ridership than a bus, so the SC will actually operate fuller than a bus and therefore with better economics.

        And your comment about “piggybacking”a bus onto an already paid for street misses the point entirely. Buses are murder on our streets, but the cost of street repairs doesn’t roll up into the Metro budget, it rolls up into the SDOT budget. SDOT is effectively subsidizing Metro even more!

        I know this city has a long history of bus only transit, but it is time for us to move on and do better. Build the CCC, then let’s study the data and see where we want to invest our future dollars.

      2. “Streetcar stations require the doors to open at an exact spot”
        This is an advantage for visitors, seniors and handicapped. It is sooooo much easier to board and find the stops.

        Inkeon 66 ft’ 30 seats are no more.
        CAF 4-8 more seats; with standing more standing room than bus
        60 ft buses max at 120

        Electric vs 60′ diesel buses (rapidrides are diesel as far as I know)

        Street cars are push-me-pull-me and don’t need turn around space
        Have exits for both center and sidewalk boarding. Allow running on existing sections which aren’t going anyware which
        will increase the value of prior investments.

        Streetcars cost more but draw more riders

      3. I rode both streetcars this weekend. The SLU streetcar has gotten faster southbound with its transit lane on Westlake, although it loses it south of 9th. So there’s some sense in connecting it to a 1st Avenue transit lane. The First Hill streetcar reminded me of how frustrating that line is. I rode it from Denny to 12th. It stops more than a bus for no reason, both at the traffic lights, and before it turns, and for no apparent reason on Yesler when it was passing a 27 going the other way, It’s so frustrating to be stuck on it with no other alternative. There is the 60 but it detours five blocks out of the way and is half as frequent. So I’d almost say connect the SLU streetcar to 1st Avenue and leave the First Hill streetcar alone because there’s not much that can be done for it.

      4. @les,

        35% more capacity on the Inkeon SC’s?

        That is substantial and will translate directly into better economics. Not to mention that SC’s generally attract higher ridership.

      5. @Mike

        I’ve been riding the FHSC the last few days and I have come to believe they could eliminate 1-2 stops. For starters the 12th & Jackson stop is a waste and should be removed. Also the city was planning on making other changes to the line but was rudely interrupted by Durkin.

      6. Portland struggled with the same performance issues and found ways to overcome. Also, 5 minutes between trains will be a huge deal for the CCC.

      7. 12th & Jackson is the center of the neighborhood; it’s the last stop that could be deleted. The Maynard stop is the one that’s most questionable to me; it’s so close to 5th.

      8. asdf2 is right. The author makes several arguments, but provides little evidence to support them. First, the idea that rail will be popular just because it is rail is laughable in this town. The existing streetcars have under-performed their predicted ridership by quite a bit. This suggests that the bias simply doesn’t exist in Seattle (we care more about getting to our destination). In polls, streetcars are often compared with diesel buses, which of course aren’t as appealing (no one likes the stink). Besides, even if their is a preference, so what? Why should we cater to finicky riders — those that are too good for a bus — as opposed to simply building the most effective transit network system we can afford? I would love it if they provided free snacks and beverages on the bus, along with big cushy seats for me to settle into. But should we spend money on that, or extra service? If you ask someone on First Hill if they want to see a more comfortable half hour ride to South Lake Union, or would rather have a direct bus capable of making the trip in ten minutes, I think they would prefer the latter. In short, rail bias is minor (if it exists at all in this town) and spending an enormous amount of extra money on it is a waste.

        Second, the issue of capacity comes up a lot. It is how you get the savings. Run vehicles half as often, and it costs you (roughly) half as much. The problem is, the vehicles run half as often. You may be able to run a train every 20 minutes for the same cost as a bus every 10 minutes, but it means that a rider has to wait a long time. That is why, when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of streetcars, the issue often comes down to demand on that corridor. Just to quote Jarrett Walker on this:

        Capacity. In other urban contexts, rail transit is important for its ability to carry large number of riders per vehicle, and hence per driver, usually by combining cars into trainsets. European streetcars are often huge trainsets with capacities of 500 or more. Typical single streetcars used in the US have a slight advantage; they have a capacity of around 200 compared to 120 for a typical articulated bus. This capacity advantage can be relevant in high-volume situations, particularly when frequencies get down to the three-minute range. However. most streetcars now under discussion are not this frequent, or for markets nearly this busy.

        This begs the question: Is 65th NE a “high volume corridor” where buses will run every 3 minutes or so once Link opens? Of course not. Not even close. The author really is being silly, and frankly romantic when it comes to transit (hey, we were all young once, I get it).

        In general, Seattle has very few corridors with that sort of demand. Just about all of them are downtown. Many of them are too steep for streetcars (e. g. Madison). Even First Hill, where the streetcar exists now, is nowhere near capacity, despite running every 10 minutes at best. The only corridors that come close to the demand needed to justify a streetcar are right downtown, and the only streets where they can work are the north-south ones (i. e. the numbered Avenues). This is where a streetcar could make sense.

        However, this is also a major transit bottleneck within our city. I don’t mean bottleneck in the sense of a hindrance to flow, but a physical convergence. Those new to town may notice that Seattle is fairly narrow downtown, but widens as you move north. Thus buses carrying huge numbers of riders squeeze into downtown. These buses could, theoretically, drop off their riders on the edge of town, where a steady stream of streetcars could shuttle them to the other end of downtown, but that would be difficult to pull off, and likely unpopular. The current setup, where the buses go from one end of downtown to the other makes sense, and will continue long after Link gets to Everett, Tacoma, West Seattle and Ballard. Thus there will be lots and lots of buses going from one end of downtown to the other.

        That changes the dynamic of the situation considerably. It would be silly to build a stand alone bus route or streetcar from one end of Third Avenue to the other. That would be very expensive, and the other buses (which carry about 100,000 people a day) can do the job quite well. What is true of Third is true of First. Simply move a couple buses onto First, and the problem solves itself. The remaining buses actually move a little faster on Third, and the buses that have been moved travel fast as well. This operation would cost very little, if anything, in terms of service. Capacity is increased by simply shifting an extra bus or two over there, or increasing headways on the overall route. For example, running the 7 and 70 every six minutes, with an overlap downtown would mean a bus every three minutes (on average) down First Avenue. That is much more capacity than the proposed streetcar and probably much more than we will ever need. But it would be great to see that kind of service on both corridors (as well as First Avenue).

        Speaking of capacity, this too is a complicated issue. The capacity of a vehicle depends on the space inside as well as the seat arrangement. The existing streetcars have roughly the same interior space as our large buses. By my measure, the buses have more, but not by much (roughly one square foot).

        It is also true that we could, conceivably, order bigger streetcars. But that has issues as well, such as whether they will fit the existing platforms and garage. I find it odd that folks are saying the new streetcars are basically the same as the old ones (i. e. they will fit everything just fine) while at the same time, saying they are much bigger.

        As it turns out, it really doesn’t matter. This corridor will never need that much capacity, and more to the point, serving it with a streetcar will never be more cost effective than serving it with a bus. Even just the service cost will be more expensive, because, again, it is a redundant, standalone route, as opposed to simply one of the dozens of buses that go from one end of downtown to the other.

        In short, there are places in the world where streetcars make sense. Seattle simply isn’t one of them.

      9. >> Streetcars cost more but draw more riders

        Except for the three streetcars we’ve built in the last fifty years. But this one will be different!

      10. @Ross
        Same lame old arguments. Wasnt Central Links ridership of plus or minus 10 stations enemic until they added the last segment of only two s rations. Wasnt Portlands ridership qustionable until they finished the loop and tweaked the performance.. Your context is so out there and your comments are borderline spam-trolling. Where’s a bus when you need one.

      11. @Mike
        Thats a good option too. Increasing ridership by removing stations was a big component to making it work in Portland. Painful as it was.

      12. California is building its HSR “train to nowhere” first before it can build its train to somewhere. Unfortunately money comes in piecemiel and leads people into faulty conclusions on what the final product is.

      13. Link 13 stations ridership in 2011: ~ 20,000
        Add 2 stations in 2016 ~ 70,000 riders by 2017

        Amazing what an additional section can do.

        CCC too will be the key that ties the Seattle Streetcar together and brings in the riders

      14. Link 13 stations ridership in 2011: ~ 20,000
        Add 2 stations in 2016 ~ 70,000 riders by 2017

        Yes, and why is that? Did they suddenly clean up the trains? Did they paint them a new color. Did they make the ride smoother? No. It was the routing! That is the entire point. It isn’t the mode, it is the routing — the stops, the order of the stops, the speed in which you can get to the stops and the frequency with which the trains operate.

        You are assuming that an inferior streetcar will be more popular than a bus, with no evidence to support that. Where is your poll of Seattle transit users? What study can you point to that suggests that people would rather wait five minutes for a streetcar, instead of waiting seconds for their bus?

        The only study we have is the original ridership estimates for the streetcar, which turned out to be woefully exaggerated. The estimates, in part, were based on the idea that a streetcar would be more popular than a bus, simply because it was a streetcar. But it hasn’t been. Not at all. Despite the tremendous increase in population and employment density in the area, they haven’t come close to the original streetcar estimates. You are correct in saying that connecting the streetcar would make *the streetcar* more popular. Because (of course) the routing would improve. But you are incorrect in saying that a streetcar route would be more popular than bus routes. Buses would be more popular simply because they would travel better routes.

        People use transit that works — transit that offers a real, fundamental advantage. We see that with various bus routes and we’ve seen that with Link. But the streetcar doesn’t offer that. In fact, it is the opposite. It would be slower, less frequent, go to to fewer places and cost more to operate than simply moving a few buses over to First. Yet you cling to this idea that it would somehow be more popular, despite all of the weaknesses. You are ignoring the writings of a transit expert on the subject, who has not only made clear the advantages and lack thereof of streetcars (http://humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html) but the disadvantages of routing that pretty much describes the current plan for the streetcar (short, squiggly and looping — http://humantransit.org/2013/08/translink-high-and-low-performing-routes.html). Your basic argument is that mode will make it special, as if it really matters what vehicle takes someone from point A to point B. Now you are making weird, bizarre comparisons (California High Speed Rail) as if the only problem with the streetcar is the cost. It isn’t.

        The problem is that it is a poor route for a streetcar. Again, would anyone in their right mind suggest this as a bus route? Seriously, would anyone say “Hey, what we really need is a bus route that starts at one end of downtown, goes down First, then along Jackson, then before it gets too far from downtown, head up to Yesler, heads back towards downtown, then turns north, ending well before the commercial end of Broadway”? Of course not? Would you? Seriously, I’m not asking rhetorically, do you think that would be a very good bus route?

        The streetcars are not very successful now because they are not very good routes. Without a doubt connecting the streetcars will improve the route as well as our overall transit network. But not nearly as much as simply moving a few buses over to First.

    4. @Lazurus — I couldn’t find the Crosscut article you mentioned. You copied a link to a guest post on the Urbanist (written by a Roosevelt High School Senior). Is there a Crosscut article?

  2. Lots of good things to note in the video.

    1. Bus drivers are part of the design. That’s a stark contrast to the ST “stakeholders group” approaches which includes many tangential groups but no train or bus drivers. I also wonder if the Metro 19th/Madison turn issue a few years against was partly due to missing driver participation. Some of the best transit thinking I’ve ever witnessed around the country happens by putting former bus drivers in charge of advisory committees.

    2. Counting stops is prioritized. I count 21 stops on ST3 Link from Westlake to Tacoma. I count 20 on ST3 Link from Everett to ID. Metro seems more savvy about stop counting, but with new routes like the 106, I have to wonder.

  3. Sam, the Route 99 bus was hardly even there. Nor deserved to be. Even more shameful than the years-premature shut-down of its namesake was the amount of rail still in the pavement and copper in the air. Though return of any bus service at all on First would’ve at least shown streetcar opponents that not everybody hated them.

    Only more embarrassing part of our hardware scrap-yard-in-place is the trolleybus wire from First Avenue sidewalk at the end of the walkway from Colman Dock to about twenty feet downhill west. Part of the Downtown Seattle Project. A few yards and a few switches short of as five minute ride to the Courthouse on Third.

    And from there, single seat ride across Third to Harborview Hospital and Madrona. And Jackson Street.
    A week’s workdays pretty reasonable cure for 28 lost years of heavy and grateful passenger loads. Now that daily use will put it back in public view….any chance we could call the wire art so the Feds give us back our 1%?

    One thing I’d add to the Crosscut article is why the Connector’s route is an ideal one for streetcars. Several miles of end-to-end connected of busy commercial (as opposed to office-only) activity. Including the city’s major railway station, a historic district and Pike Place Market.

    With subway stations along the route for fast access to and from separated parts of the ride. Standing comfort very important. Also large wrap-free windows. Ads whose owners want them looked AT don’t like ads passengers can only look. Might save us trouble of carrying paint-scrapers.

    Lanes and lights? Vertical elevators don’t stop between floors, do they?

    But while allegation of duplicity is hardly a “Q-Anon” claim, I’m skeptical that the Mayor needs any anti-streetcar effort to justify present “slow order.” Plenty of opposition without it. But powerful neighborhood business interests want the line. Also, technical claims are not always bogus. Reason the Finns designed these cars for themselves was that their own previous imported cars had serious problems of their own.

    Like her personnel approach or not, Jennie Durkan seems like a valuable sparring partner. Connector is first month or two in the gym. Pro-streetcar, leave the politics to somebody else, and concentrate aggressively on every mechanical claim. Wheeled and otherwise, next six years you’ll spend a lot less time lying on the canvas.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The shuttering of the waterfront streetcar is shameful. No one was ever prosecuted for that crime against our city.

      1. Reason I’d go along with “shameful” is that I don’t think whoever wanted the streetcar gone really leveled with the public as to what they had in mind. At the beginning of their work, the design team’s every rendering showed streetcars.

        And with each new one, ever fewer of them, with ever less lane space. Until finally- none at all. And the general attitude that comes with that approach.

        “It was decided that…,” worst of all was that we never knew who these people were. Never liked “English Only” rules, but the rules should the Passive Voice in any governmental communication.

        I don’t remember anybody at any level of the project say, from the beginning: These cars have served their purpose well. But tomorrow I meet with the design team to start work on yhe line along First Avenue. That, after fifteen years, serves our needs much better.”

        “Shame” also describes all the hardware-including the trolleywire between First and Marion and the Courthouse, which can still be saved- left to rust all those years. No reason the streetcars couldn’t have kept running until it was time to take the metal away.


        But since right now, the criminal justice system’s duty to run the State mental health system fills its whole docket, better to start close contact between our own car-lines and the association that works in conjunction with San Francisco MUNI to run the F-line fleet.

        But with a different focus. Throughout its lifetime, our system should actively incorporate its whole fleet into the same modern and modernizing streetcar system, communications, supervision, maintenance and all. As street-rail’s founders, and George Benson, would’ve insisted on doing.

        But whose volunteers- much as possible, career path to fully-paid professionals should have considerable political muscle behind them. No condescension to San Francisco. We need all their help to rebuild a century of street rail culture. So would like a system that works as a completely unified, up to date system. As every car in the world belonged to on its first run. But constantly improving ’til its far-future last/

        Excellent “kick-off”: permanent ongoing design division. to pick up where the PCC’s left off, and use the best of the past- especially the design philosophy of these machines- to make our country the Home of The Brave, The Tough, and the Simple. “Again” gets old.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I still hold a grudge against Seattle Art Museum for the stunt they pulled with the waterfront streetcar.

      3. The Seattle Art Museum forced the streetcar barn to move, but didn’t necessarily shut it down. There were various proposals to create a new barn, but not much enthusiasm for it. The real end to the streetcar was the viaduct replacement tunnel. If you want to be mad at a project, be mad at that one (join the club).

  4. The Rules should forbid using the grammatical “Passive Voice”. Not ” Use of the Passive Voice shall be forbidden by the Rules.” Worst of all is the “Passive Evasive”: “All those civilians got killed because MISTAKES WERE MADE. ” Perpetrators should not be shot, because that won’t be fair to those hundreds of survivors waiting in line to shoot them.


    1. >> Use of the Passive Voice shall be forbidden by the Rules.

      I’ll have to remember that one — I like it.

  5. I wonder what is holding back the NYC Subway from reaching Staten Island? Maybe the other four Burroughs are sucking all the funding and attention? Seems like all it would take is a mostly stub line like the West Seattle line and frequent bus connections on the island to dramatically improve travel times.

    Though what they’re doing with express buses is cool in its own right. The new routes kind of seem a lot like the peak express system King County used to have (with remnants remaining), with converging express routes branching out to different neighborhoods (like the 179, 196, the old 178, 175, 176, which gave nearly all of Federal Way a one-seat-ride to downtown Seattle).

    1. NY Harbor is very deep and a straight shot from Manhattan to SI would be ridiculously expensive. I’ve heard talks of reactivating the north shore line but even that doesn’t have much traction. What makes the most sense would be an elevated line via Bayonne/Jersey City and then through the PATH tunnel to Wall St but that would require NY/NJ to play nice with each other.

      1. Yeah, New York has much bigger fish to fry. It would really take a very backwards approach — serving an area with much lower potential ridership first — to get a new subway tunnel there. I agree with your other point — if they are going to send a train anywhere, it should be towards New Jersey. It is really an odd (and in my opinion unfortunate) twist of history that Staten Island is part of New York, but Jersey City/Newark isn’t. Natural borders are great for dividing things, but if the city happens to be right on that border, it is harder to get things done. Assuming the states are divided right there, Staten Island probably should be part of New Jersey (after all, it is closer to New Jersey than other parts of New York). Then maybe you could have the sort of subway bridge you suggest (unless, of course, New Jersey has bigger fish to fry, which probably is the case as well). The situation right now is not that bad — the ferry works well. Improving transit options on the island itself (the focus of this video) is probably the most important improvement in the area.

      2. High costs are a concern for sure. But building new subways in the other four Burroughs are exorbitantly expensive too (the second avenue subway will cost roughly 2 billion dollars per mile!), it seems like as long as the system is continually able to expand, there has to be a line to Staten Island at some point. It makes more sense when you consider the rail line already within the island that connects to the ferry. If the gauges and clearances match, and negotiations allow, then it would take little more than building the bridge to send trains from Brooklyn down the entire length of the island.

      3. There’s an interesting history behind the whole Staten Island subway idea – when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was being designed, the subway (probably the R line) was supposed to use it to cross over to the island, joining the Staten Island Railway around Grasmere and continuing south to Tottenville. The SIR was upgraded to MTA standards in anticipation of this and MTA rolling stock was (and I believe still is) used on the line. However, this was the era of Big Automobile and the NYC urban planning czar Robert Moses, foe of transit and friend of freeways, got the idea nixed and the bridge to this day carries only cars.

        (TBH, I think there were plans for a Brooklyn – Staten Island subway tunnel back in the ’20s, when this may still have been politically possible, but of course that didn’t happen.)

      4. >> the second avenue subway will cost roughly 2 billion dollars per mile!

        Yes, and it will carry over half a million riders a day (more than Link ever will). Like I said, bigger fish.

        The New York Subway system needs a lot of money, and maintenance should be the first order of business. Beyond that, there are way more cost effective solutions than extending a line to Staten Island. Staten Island is by far the least populous borough and is dwarfed by the other boroughs in terms of density. Brooklyn has about five times as many people per area, and Manhattan about nine. The entire population of the island could ride the train and it wouldn’t equal the ridership of the Second Avenue Subway. Even if you look at just the areas close to the train stations they pale in comparison to other boroughs.

        I’m sure someone who knows New York has a better idea of what the city needs than I do, but just by looking at the numbers, I would say Queens is under-served, and Brooklyn could use another crossing. Some sort of express doing both (something that served a few spots in Queens that don’t have stops right now, followed by a limited stop express that included Brooklyn and then provided another connection to Manhattan) would be a much better value. It would also change the dynamic of the city, as their are lots and lots of people who live in Queens who suffer from a very long commute to either Brooklyn or Manhattan. There are folks in Staten island who struggle with a similarly long commute, just way fewer of them.

      5. Express buses have a different niche in New York than they do here. The subways are ubiquidous, grade-separated, and provide Swift-level service, even while having half the station spacing of Swift. Staten Island has a subway-equivalent railroad even though it’s not connected to the other boroughs. Jersey City has PATH and Amtrak. But all those stations serving all those intermediate neighborhoods take up time. The express buses provide point-to-point service faster than that, and serve trip pairs that don’t have an express-train option. In other words, even if you build a subway from Staten Island to Manhattan, it may not be fast enough to replace these express buses, which go directly to, as the video says, Midtown, Downtown, or 14th Street.

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