Did you know that the Staten Island Railway can trace its roots back to an investment by Gilded Age tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt? The railway has been operational since it was owned by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the early 1880s. The line starts up at the rail-ferry terminal of St. George and winds through the center of the island down to Tottenville near Raritan Bay. The single rail line functions as the only rapid transit system on the island and releases some of the pressure put on buses to connect travelers with the city’s other boroughs.
The Staten Island Railway is a subsidiary of the MTA and operates on a similar schedule with the same fare rate of $2.75. Passengers traveling in between stops on the island from Tottenville up to Stapleton can ride the train for free, but those who want access to and from St. George will need to pay the fare. Trains run 24 hours a day, seven days a week at intervals from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day.
The Staten Island Railway saw a decent amount of profit in its early years and began with an investment from Gilded Age tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who controlled a number of major railroad companies in the northeast. The company started to decline in the 1870s and eventually had to be foreclosed due to competition with a booming ferry company that sprouted up in Lower Manhattan. Investor George Law, whom the St. George neighborhood was named after, would go on to purchase the land and look after the development of a rail-ferry terminal that would greatly boost service to the company. The construction of the St. George Terminal coincided with what ultimately was the birth of the Staten Island Railway as we know it today.
When the railroad was purchased by the MTA in 1971, six new R44 units were put into service to replace the outdated ME-1 units. The R44 is the only model used by the Staten Island Railway to this day with 63 individual cars, but there are plans to replace these with the brand new R211 model. And now, onto the starting point at St. George!