Can an Aerial Gondola to Bayonne Solve Staten Island Commuters’ Woes?

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bayonne staten island gondola
Photo credit: Leitner-Poma.

Transportation between Manhattan, New Jersey, and Staten Island are one of the highest frustrations for commuters and residents alike. However, the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s latest project development may have the solution. The corporation is headlining a radical new idea to ease commuting between Staten Island and Manhattan through Bayonne: an aerial gondola that drops people off at a light rail station.

The aerial gondola design came from Leitner-Poma of America (LPOA), with the goal of creating a design to better connect commuters to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system in New Jersey. According to the SIEDC, the success of the aerial gondola could create a shorter commute for daily users between Staten Island and Manhattan – down to 33 minutes, in fact.

Initially, the SIEDC initiated a competition to find the best fit to carry out the design rendering and the proposed route for the best route to get commuters to and from Manhattan. The competition’s jury – comprised of architects, engineers, planners, and media – determined Elm Park to Bayonne would be the most efficient route from the three route submissions they received. “System length, total cost [of development], and travel time” were key factors in the final route decision for the jury, according to the SIEDC vice president of membership and outreach Alexandra Porto.

As excited as some are with the completion of this project, there’s also some concern about the success and high cost – estimated at $60 million to finish complete construction without using public funds. With that, the SIEDC is looking to secure funding to contribute to a study of the project itself. Their belief in the success of the project also stems from the expanding to more environmentally sustainable methods of urban transportation – the gondola project, despite some pushback, serves this purpose and helps to push transportation in the tri-state area towards becoming more sustainable and overall efficient.

There’s also concern on what the impact of building this gondola project would have on existing neighborhoods, especially between First and Eighth Streets in Bayonne. Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is highly skeptical of the success of the project being enough to solve commuting issues without interfering with daily life for the local residents. Instead, he thinks that running the gondolas only to First Street would be a more viable solution.

Officials are estimating that it would take 33 minutes total for a trip from Elm Park to the World Trade Center PATH train when including the six-minute gondola trip in between. Though the proposal, states that the gondolas would be departing every minute to keep up with demand – time will tell if this project will be able to balance the concerns of both commuters and residents to create a better transportation solution.

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