By John Pitera:

As more people take up residence in the north shore of Staten Island, the Staten Island Railroad is becoming a popular means of transportation. As part of pilot program, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is employing sustainable technology in the rehabilitation of the St. George railway terminal by replacing old wooden railroad ties with plastic.

Some may wonder why this action is important enough to warrant a news article and blog. The answer is simple – the MTA is finally making Staten Island a priority when it comes to public transportation.

It’s true that plastic railroad ties are not the additional bus lines or increased rail service that Staten Islanders have been clamoring for, but it is a good first step in having the MTA pay closer attention to our public transportation system.

This pilot program is particularly important because New York City has miles upon miles of railroad tracks. This rail system carries employees to work and tourists to their shopping and sight—seeing destinations, generating billions of tax dollars annually. Installing these plastic railroad ties at the St. George station will keep the MTA focused on the station just as the influx of tourists and new residents begins to grow with the opening of the New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, Urby Staten Island and Lighthouse Point.

For years Staten Island officials have been requesting more public transportation options for Staten Island, but their requests have been ignored because there were no studies to prove that expansion was warranted. While the pilot program does not come with a user study, the increased traffic at the station will certainly garner attention.

The MTA is spending $105 million on the St. George Terminal renewal project. It is due to be completed by June 1st of this year, making, Staten Island, the borough of parks, just a little more “green”.