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Only those who enter or exit at St. George for local points, or who take the ferry and then walk to their destinations in Manhattan pay a full fare. Those using the SIRT for intra-island transportation to any station other than St. George need carry neither token, nor ticket, nor need offer the conductor their cash fare, as in days of old. In fact, they don't even have to buy a MetroCard. All fares are collected entering or leaving at St. George. Travel anywhere else is free.
     It's a bargain for the City, too. Since 1999 the MTA picks up operating costs not covered by dwindling fare receipts and existing subsidies

The Future
Plans for the immediate future appear modest, focusing on achieving and maintaining the State of Good Repair of plant and structure that eluded most of the region's rail system for decades. This includes such goals as purchasing equipment to maintain SIRT's rehabilitated track. Repairing Clifton Shops is a priority and rehabilitation of the little Nassau and Atlantic stations promises to bring all stations up to snuff.
     A key event lies down the road. The R-44 equipment that finally laid the original SIRT fleet to rest is itself nearing the end of its useful life. Will replacements again be modified subway equipment? Or will new cars be more like equipment being ordered for the commuter roads, closing the door on a subway hookup for additional decades?

Or might Staten Island set a different pace in New York City's approach to transit -- perhaps as part of the kind of regional rail system seen around cities like Paris? Or perhaps using light rail vehicles that would permit service to break free of its traditional roadbed to serve new areas? Perhaps even a connection with the growing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system? This seems barely a dream now, but the SIRT's future is, for once, an open book.

The trackage between St. George and the nascent Staten Island Railroad freight operation is abandoned; in some places impassible or washed out. Might it be revived, for freight or passenger service? This is doubtful, especially in a City where higher-rated priorities such as the Second Avenue Subway are still on the drawing board, and more pressing repairs, such as the Manhattan Bridge, are incomplete. Even were it possible, the passenger operators might well resist a physical connection to the freight system to avoid the possibility of losing the waiver of the Federal Railroad Administration regulations the railroad operated under until 1988.
     A final irony on a road that has seen many is the fare structure. The city's manipulation of the fare on its competing bus system a half-century ago helped destroy the SIRT as a private entity. Today the SIRT is the bargain of the entire MTA system. Those who use the MTA MetroCard pay a single fare for use of the SIRT, the Staten Island ferry and connecting subways and buses on the Manhattan side where they once paid a separate fare for each.


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Updated Friday, December 28, 2001

©1965 Silver Leaf Rapid Transit. ©2001 Paul Matus. ©2001 The Composing Stack Inc.