"I don't see a problem for buses stopping at the station," Bayonne Police Chief Robert Kubert said.
The proposal, generated out of legislation by Staten Island Assemblyman Michael Cusick, and passed by the New York State Legislature last May, would allow buses to stop at the 34th Street Station in Bayonne so that passengers could access Lower Manhattan more conveniently by way of the Light Rail and PATH.
Cusick said buses - which are governed by New York regulations - are not allowed to stop off in New Jersey, even though buses coming across the Bayonne Bridge for the northerly trek to Midtown Manhattan pass near the Light Rail stations.
The legislation Cusick introduced would amend the New York State Public Authorities law to allow New York City Transit to enter into an agreement with NJ Transit to permit the buses to stop and let passengers off at the station.
The change of law would allow Staten Island residents a more direct link to Lower Manhattan through Bayonne and Jersey City, and would likely reduce the number of cars that currently drive into Bayonne or into Manhattan. The service could also reduce commuting times for many Staten Island residents to about one hour. Cusick said the new route would cost $1 million per year to operate.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which oversees NYC Transit, gave its blessing to the new route in late December. In January, members of the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation toured the route with MTA officials. The tour crossed the bridge to Bayonne, where Staten Island bus commuters could exit the bus to take the Light Rail - which links up with PATH trains - if the project gets funded.
"Our bill specifically addresses the need of people on Staten Island to get to work quickly," Cusick said. "This would help alleviate traffic on Staten Island. This is one of a number of smaller steps that add up to larger results in taking a lot of cars off the road."
Cusick said this would particularly help the areas along the North Shore of Staten Island near the Bayonne Bridge. "All we need now is a joint-services agreement between the two states," he said.
Along with the $1 million additional annual operating costs will be additional costs to purchase new buses, he said.
"But these costs are not large," Cusick said.
Bayonne and Staten Island are closely linked by the bridge and by the fact that numerous people travel across the bridge to work and shop. People from Bayonne have even moved to Staten Island and frequently go back and forth.
Bayonne Police Director Mark Smith said that traffic operations in Bayonne were designed to handle the loading and unloading of passengers from buses at the train stations. The bus service, of course, could help with parking in the area for those Staten Island residents who currently travel by car to the Light Rail station.