According to a recent poll, 88 percent of Staten Islanders believe the island is facing “serious problems” related to traffic and mass transportation, with 72 percent of those believing that the problems have reached a “crisis” or “very severe” level.
The January poll of 600 Island residents, funded through the generosity of Con Edison, was conducted under the auspices of the College of Staten Island-Staten Island Project (CSI-SIP), an initiative that addresses issues central to Staten Island public life. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.
“We have successfully completed our first survey of Staten Islanders and secured their views on a subject crucial to the social and economic vitality of the community,” commented Marlene Springer, president of CSI. “The poll is a service to the borough of which the college is justly proud.”
“The poll data finds that 84 percent of Staten Island residents have personally experienced problems on Staten Island’s roads,” said Steve Johnson, director of institutional research and assessment at CSI, “and while most people experienced problems during the morning or afternoon rush-hour commutes, there were no days or times that were free of problems.”
“Nearly two thirds of Staten Islanders told us that the solution to these problems might be more mass transportation,” Johnson continued, “and 84 percent of these people feel Staten Island ‘urgently’ needs more connections to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.”
Islanders rate the solutions
The poll asked Staten Islanders to give their opinions on several proposed solutions to the problems plaguing on- and off-island travel.
“We were surprised that 82 percent of Island residents support extending the Staten Island Rapid Transit (SIRT) rail line to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and Perth Amboy, New Jersey,” noted Johnson. Fast-ferry service from mid-Island to Manhattan earned an 81 percent positive rating.
Other projects favored by nearly 75% of Island residents include a High Occupancy Vehicle (H-O-V) lane on the Staten Island Expressway, expanding public and private bus service to New Jersey, and reopening the North Shore Rail Line from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to Cranford, New Jersey.
Solutions involving rail expansion received their strongest support from people living on the north shore of Staten Island according to the poll, while people living mid-Island strongly supported the fast-ferry, expanded bus service to Jersey, a twin Goethals Bridge, and the Expressway H-O-V lane. People living on the Island’s southern end were most positive about the fast ferry and SIRT expansion.
When Islanders were asked which of these solutions they would actually use on a regular basis, over half said that they would use a new bridge to New Jersey, the expanded SIRT, and an Expressway H-O-V lane. In addition, nearly half said they would use fast-ferry service regularly.
“This survey confirms that Staten Islanders strongly support any type of mass transit improvements to get to their work destinations,” commented Jonathan Peters, assistant professor of finance at CSI. “Islanders are especially supportive of investing in rail infrastructure to provide better access to Brooklyn and neighboring counties in New Jersey.”
The poll’s findings support the findings in the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s Transit Improvement Program for 2004-2006 report which states that “Staten Island is among New York State’s fastest growing counties, and it is outgrowing much of the transportation infrastructure its residents and businesses rely on for travel within and beyond the borough.”
The polling initiative is a prelude to an upcoming College of Staten Island-Staten Island Project (CSI-SIP) conference entitled “Staten Island Mass Transportation and Traffic: Environment and Economy,” which will be held on Friday, March 19, 2004 beginning at 8:15 a.m. in the college’s Center for the Arts at 2800 Victory Boulevard in Staten Island.
Participants in the all-day conference include policy makers, academics, and members of the political, social, business, environmental, and disabilities communities.
Registration is open to the public at $30 per person. A continental breakfast, lunch and post-conference reception are included. For more information and to register, contact Faith Olzman in the CSI advancement office at 718-982-2365.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Executive Summary with graphs, Topline Report, and expert commentary available. For additional information or to schedule an interview, visit www.csinews.net/traffic or call Ken Bach at 718-982-2328.