Thursday, April 25, 2013

N.Y. mayoral candidates back Staten Island LRT

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The words "light rail" were uttered, or at least alluded to, by candidates for New York City mayor at a meeting in Staten Island Wednesday, hosted by the Staten Island Economic Development Corp.

Recognition of light rail transit as a concept by New York candidates is significant for at least two reasons. First, unlike many major U.S. cities, New York has no current commitment to LRT or streetcars on any meaningful level. Second, Staten Island, often called "the Forgotten Borough" for reasons transcending public transit, has succeeded in making its desire for LRT enough of a high-profile issue to draw the attention of both Republican and Democratic candidates vying to succeed current Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

One of the candidates, current frontrunner Christine Quinn (D), told local media, "If we are both going to make Staten Island an easier place for people to commute to and from, make Staten Island a place with more economic development potentialmwe need this West Shore Light Rail to move forward."

SIEDC has expressly outlined its desire to link LRT with the existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (pictured above left), across the Kill Van Kull in Bayonne, N.J., which would offer transit options to Jersey City and to Manhattan.

Former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota (R), critical of other interstate rail transit options, said LRT would aid Staten Island as an economic development tool, "the process of building the West Shore."