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Schumer Announces Legislation Allowing MTA Busses To Bring Staten Island Residents Directly To Bayonne, NJ Transit Hub

State law currently roadblocks direct MTA Bus Access to Bayonne Hub

Connecting existing MTA Bus lines to NJ Transit's Hudson Bergen light rail system will reduce commuting time and ease congestion

Schumer, in conversations with MTA Chairmen Kalikow, is assured MTA will begin service if state law is changed

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Assemblyman Michael C. Cusick today announced legislation that would allow the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to link existing MTA bus lines to New Jersey Transits HudsonBergen Light Rail lines station at 34th street in Bayonne, NJ.

Staten Islanders suffer from the longest commutes, and worst traffic in this city. A buslink between the North Shore of Staten Island and the Bayonne Transit hub is a nobrainer its cheap, its easy, it will cut commuting times to Manhattan and will alleviate traffic for all Staten Islanders, Schumer said. This bill will remove the key legal barrier that stands as a roadblock in the effort to make this bus service a reality.

We owe it to Staten Islanders to find as many ways as possible to provide a quicker ride to and from work. This legislation is good news for commuters; in fact, it's a boon for all Island residents, said Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick. More people using mass transit means less cars driving on Staten Island's congested roads. I'm glad it appears we've been able to find a way to sidestep a lengthy legal battle and do something that benefits all of Staten Island"

Last month, Schumer personally called MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow to urge him to start the service over the Bayonne Bridge from Staten Island to New Jersey. Chairman Kalikow was open to the idea, but pointed out that the New York Public Authorities Law prevented New York City Transit (NYCT) from providing direct bus service to another state.

NYCT is responsible for operating all of the MTAs bus service. NYCT is an affiliate of the MTA and currently does not have the statutory authority to operate opendoor service outside the 5boroughs of New York. The legislation to be introduced in the New York State Assembly by Mr. Cusick, will amend the New York State Public Authorities Law to allow NYCT to enter into a Joint Service Agreements (JSA) with New Jersey Transit. This JSA would permit existing MTA bus lines to drop Staten Island passengers off at the Bayonne hub and take the direct rail link into Manhattan.

Subsidiaries of the MTA, such as Metro North rail systems, are currently permitted to enter in JSAs, allowing train service to operate between New York and Connecticut. New York City Transit, however, was formed under different sections of state law, and todays legislation would give them the same power to enter into JSAs as other MTA subsidiaries.

The Staten Island to Bayonne service, originally proposed in the late 1990s, would create a direct link from the North Shore of Staten Island to the Bayonne transit hub which provides a more direct route to Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, where many Staten Islanders work. According to the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, which has championed this cause, the service would reduce commuting times to Lower Manhattan to under an hour, something currently impossible from the North Shore. Commuters coming from all over the North Shore and in to the middle of Staten Island, especially from in Eltingville, Travis, Graniteville and Annadale, all could see their commutes brought down to under an hour.

Schumer noted that, The additional stop at the end of some existing MTA bus routes would go a long way toward alleviating the maddening congestion on Staten Islands roads and expressways, and provide an efficient route for thousands of New Yorkers to commute to work.

While Cusick added that, This new route is estimated to cost only $1 million annually, while reducing commute times dramatically. We need to move full steam ahead, and this bill will pave the way.

In September, 2005, after a meeting with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, Schumer wrote to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow urging him to extend bus service to Bayonne. At a breakfast sponsored by the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce last week, Senator Schumer pledged to continue lobbying Chairman Kalikow on the issue.

Schumer also pledged to lobby NYCT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to begin contractbus service from Staten Island to the Bayonne hub before MTA service commences. NYCT and the Port Authority are both permitted to hire private companies to run interstate routes. This contract service would allow Islanders to begin taking advantage of the rail link before NYCT busses become able to extend their service across state lines. NYCT direct bus service is far preferable, however, as it would allow commuters to take advantage of existing bus lines creating a onestop ride to Bayonne. MTANYCT service would also be more cost effective than contract service in the long run.

Schumer and Cusick both also promised to lobby New Jersey Governor John Corzine to have New Jersey Transit enter into a JSA with NYCT once the legislation was passed.

Staten Island was the fastest growing county in the State of New York from 1990 to 2000, with significant population and economic gains expected over the next 30 years. At the same time, however, Staten Islanders have the longest average commute in the nation, averaging 43.8 minutes each way. Staten Island residents also endure the most frequent extreme commutes of 90 minutes or longer in the nation. Congestion and traffic hampers economic growth and creates an environment that businesses try to avoid.