With subway plans stalling and bus service failing, planners are turning their sites to alternate modes of urban transportation such as ferries and aerial gondolas. The latter has picked up steam over the past year thanks to the East River Skyway, which would run along the Brooklyn waterfront and into Manhattan, and it looks like the transit-starved folks over on Staten Island have taken note. Earlier this year, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation launched a conceptual design competition for an aerial tramway that would better connect the borough to surrounding areas. As Untapped tells us, the winning proposal is a line that runs parallel to the Bayonne Bridge from Elm Park to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in Bayonne.
The chosen design comes from Colorado-based cable systems developer Leitner-Poma of America’s (LPOA). Though there seems to be quite a lot of transfer involved–after exiting at the Light Rail station passengers have to then connect to a PATH train into Manhattan–the developers estimate that total travel time will be only 33 minutes (the leg from Elm Park to Bayonne would only be six minutes). They also claim trams would depart every minute
Alexandra Porto of SIEDC told Staten Island Live that they went with LPOA’s proposal because “it was the most efficient in terms of system length, total cost and travel time. The other proposed routes were Fort Wadsworth to 95th Street in Brooklyn, and St. George to lower Manhattan.”
But Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is skeptical of the plan. NJ.com reports that he’s concerned about how the gondola would descend onto Eighth Street and how it would affect the surrounding neighborhood, where residents have already been put out by Bayonne Bridge construction since 2013. He feels ferries are a better option since his city is surrounded by water on three sides.
If realized, the plan would not use public funds and cost about $60 million, a much more economical option than building a $1 billion light-rail line across the bridge. Currently, the SIEDC is working on a funding feasibility study.
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