Saturday, July 25, 2015

Service Change: NYC, Part 3 - The Staten Island Railway

Staten Island does not feel like New York City. I mean, sure, you've got your downtowns with a few buildings, but much of the borough is suburban - or even rural. Seriously, there's a lot of parkland here. Because of this, Staten Island only has one rapid transit route: the Staten Island Railway. It follows the east and south shores of the island, which are mostly suburban in character. And, if your trip doesn't involve St. George or Tompkinsville (the northernmost stops), it's freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Past the mezzanine at St. George.
But our trip did involve St. George, so we had to pay. However, we got a free transfer from the subway, which was great! The mezzanine was nice and clean, a bit uncharacteristic for New York - but that said, so is Staten Island.

The platform.
St. George's platform, on the other hand, was pretty dingy. It was under the station's bus terminal, so it was dark with these stark yellow lights. Interestingly, there was a total of 10 tracks here, but I can't imagine all of them being used at one time. Well, at least there's a lot of train space, I guess.

Two trains at the station.
The inside of one of them.
As you can see, the railway uses regular New York Subway cars. They're old, but I'm pretty sure similar trains still run on the subway proper, too. The Staten Island ones have the addition of forward-facing seats, though, which is always great. And since the line's almost all above ground, they were good for seeing the view.

The outskirts of St. George.
Immediately after the terminal, the train passed through its only tunnel, then came above ground, going past a few apartment buildings by the sea. Soon after, we reached the first station, Tompkinsville. From there, the line rose up to be elevated and it started getting more industrial.

What a...lovely view.
And again, another...amazing view.
After the elevated Stapleton Station, we went towards the coast, getting some great views of the far-away land of Manhattan. At Clifton Station, there was a train yard that had a diesel "Staten Island Railway" locomotive in it. I wondered if it was just an old locomotive or if it's used when the electrified cars can't run or something.

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn.
A view of the water.
The city!
The diesel locomotive.
The line curved southwestward after Clifton Station, sinking down to ground level. We went under Interstate 278, then passed mostly residential areas. Eventually the line went elevated again, and we got a good view of the houses - they were reminiscent of someplace like east Arlington.

There were still some remnants of industry, though.
Eventually, the railroad sunk into a trench between two sides of a street. It was along this section that we stopped at the excellent station of "New Dorp". After a few more elevation changes and some more stations, we left the two streets and came to another fantastic station: "Great Kills".

A residential view.
From there, the line passed behind some businesses, then from Eltingville, it got residential again. After Annadale and...Huguenot, (How the heck do you pronounce that?) we went through a small forest. The residences got less and less dense, and we went through more woods and marshland. This is in New York City, keep in mind.

The woods!
The largest city in the US, right here...
Some businesses.
Nassau and Atlantic Stations are both so tiny that only one car can open its doors there. The two stations are being consolidated into one, Arthur Kill, between the two. We went by its construction site, then came right up to the sea at Tottenville. We only got a glance of the station, though, because we were staying on the train to head back to Eltingville.

A small yard at Tottenville.
A water view through the trees.
Looking one way down the platform...
...and the other.
Eltingville Station was elevated, which was pretty cool. The platform was generic, but pretty nice overall. It also had countdown clocks, proudly displaying that the next train after ours was 28 minutes away - yeah, every half-hour service isn't the greatest. But the Staten Island Railway overall seems like a great way of travelling down the east and south sides of Staten Island, mainly because it's free if you don't go to St. George or Tompkinsville! Plus, the ride is really interesting and unique, especially if you've never been to Staten Island before. And now it was time to walk to the Eltingville Transit Center to catch a bus...

Well, that's the last train for the next half hour.
The platform.
A nice-looking exit.
A schedule.
A few maps and wastebaskets on the platform.
Well, that's hard to read - this is the countdown clock.
Now for the walk to the transit center.

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