Monthly Archives: August 2009

Car Free Adventure to Staten Island

It is definitely summer in New York City. I decided to cool off a bit from the urban heat island that is known as Manhattan and headed to Staten Island, the oft-forgotten borough of New York City. I took the subway to the new South Ferry Station, which is totally fabulous. I would have gotten photos except the MTA police did not look too happy at the sight of my camera, and I saw no need to get arrested or detained for taking photos in the subway.

A quick walk over to the ferry terminal, and we’re off! I forgot that I lack sea legs, so I was a little shaky on the trip over because of the rocking of the ferry. I got a few great photos of the Statue of Liberty; saw the bridges – the Brooklyn, Verrazano-Narrows,  Manhattan and Goethals; and even caught a few pigeons hitching a ride to Staten Island with us.

The Staten Island Railway is one of the oldest continuously used rail corridors in the United States, so it was a treat to finally ride it. I rode the entire length of the Railway, through neighborhoods of all types – industrial, residential and commercial. Staten Island, at least from the windows of the subway car, looks remarkably like New Jersey. Very suburban and low density. I wasn’t expecting high rise towers like Manhattan, but I was thinking there’d be more dense development around the railway stations than I actually saw. Despite its name, the SIR does not use commuter rail cars – instead, they use modified R44 subway cars. The trains are shorter and some stops are flag stops only.

After riding for over 40 minutes, arriving in Tottenville was a treat. There wasn’t much to see the further south we traveled, but I wanted to switch sides on the train and see another view of the island. One fascinating thing about the Staten Island Railway is that there are no fares between most stations on Staten Island, so there are no ticket booths or Metrocard machines. People can just walk up, hop on and ride to their destination. It reminded me of “Choose your own fares!” – how much do people value the Railway but would pay if it were optional to pay, and how many would simply continue using the system without paying? To transfer from the ferry (which is free) to the Railway at St. George Station, you must pay the regular subway fare of $2.25 or swipe your unlimited MetroCard (and vice versa).

I did wonder about parking, since I know many people use the Railway to connect to the ferry service to lower Manhattan. Where in the world to they park? I didn’t see a lot of huge parking lots or decks. Perhaps people take buses to the Railway or those who commute by Railway live within walking distance of the stations.

In the end, my adventure was 3 hours long but worth the views of the city from the ferry, and didn’t cost me a dime since I already paid for the unlimited Metrocard.

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World Carfree Day – September 22

carfree

World Carfree Day is September 22. Do you have any special plans? If so, add your event online at: World Carfree Day And join the World Carfree Day Page on Facebook!

World Carfree Day is an annual celebration of cities and public life, free from the noise, stress and pollution of cars. Each year on September 22, people around the world organize events of all sizes to showcase alternatives to the automobile. World Carfree Network invites organisations and individuals everywhere to join!

Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society. 2009 should be no different.

Choose your own fares!

After reading about a taxi service in Vermont that allows riders to choose their own fare, I began thinking – what would people pay if they could choose their own fare on the local bus, subway or commuter rail?

the honor system
Creative Commons License photo credit: conbon33

I know I would continue paying the same fares as before. Nothing would change for me. But what about instances where you had no starting point for what the fare should be? How would people decide what was equitable, given that they had to pay something (no free rides)?

Any thoughts?

Thanks to Bill for Transit Maps!

Bill from Colorado sent me three great transit maps from Denver, including an entire system map of the RTD system, plus individual schedules for the E, F, H and G light rail lines.

Transit Maps from Bill

Thanks for the great note and maps. I really appreciate it! It’s not too late to send me maps from where you live or places you visit.