FERRY, RAIL, BUT MOSTLY, BUS
[This post is the first in a series on bus transportation on Staten Island.]
Staten Island has the ferry, it’s true. Plus one functioning rail line on the south shore and the possible resurrection of another on the north. Maybe. Some day. Maybe even someday soon. But in the meantime, most of the time, public transportation on Staten Island means The Bus.
Staten Island’s workhorse of a bus system deserves considerably more respect than it gets. Though I’m a dedicated walker during the warm-weather months, once it gets cold, I take the bus if the distance is more than a mile or two.
But taking the bus on Staten Island isn't like taking the bus in Manhattan. They don't come in a steady stream. You have to know the frequency of the runs. And how long it takes, more or less, to get from where you are to where you want to be.
That's what I had to develop in 1992, when I hung up my license and my car keys and became a full-time, MetroCard-carrying bus-taker. And once I figured it out, once I got it, I locked in my bus savvy for good. No annual or biennial fleecing. No car payments, insurance payments, license fees, registration fees. But best of all, no more dealing with high drama in Staten Island's increasingly heavy traffic. That's what they pay the driver for.
Studying the Staten Island bus-route map helped me grasp the system’s overall design. Using the bus to travel longer distances, and into unfamiliar neighborhoods, helped me develop a new and useful skill: I can now approximate the number of bus-minutes (versus car-minutes) it takes to get from my house in St. George to various Island locations.
Though I try to avoid traveling when high school lets out in the mid-afternoon--not because it’s dangerous but because it’s loud—I travel without concern at all other times of the day, including the night.
I depend on the bus because I know I can.