Are There Too Many Cars on Staten Island?

Aptly-named the borough of cars, Staten Island is by far the most car-dependent borough in all of New York City. With a constantly growing population, and the city’s worst, most insufficient public transportation system – Staten Islanders, like Frank Camuso and his family, need their cars more than anybody else in the five boroughs. Staten Island has always been the black-sheep of the NYC family –getting the short end of the stick more often, than not, in more ways than you can count. From being home to the city dump, and being called the smelliest borough, to terrible roads, less frequent snow & trash removal – the history of Staten Island has been quite an unfair one to say the least.

However, in recent years the city has begun a bit of a reclamation project on Staten Island, in an effort to raise property values, and simply make life more livable for citizens like Frank Camuso and others in similar situations. Despite recent efforts, to bring more activities, engaging exhibits, industry, and more to Staten Island – the lack of efficient bus routes, and a single railway that ONLY services the Eastern Shore has forced residents like Frank Camuso and his wife Christine, to rely solely on cars for their family’s transportation. In other boroughs, like Manhattan and Brooklyn, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find a family of 3 or 4 ride the subway to enjoy a fun-filled, family Saturday. But for Staten Islanders, such a trip besides being next to impossible, would make for a hellish day of delays and frustrations. And now with the public transportation issues, and more and more citizens driving – it has created major traffic issues across the borough on almost a daily basis. The borough president, James Oddo and his staff have looked into recent Staten Island vehicle statistics and some of the results were staggering. While Staten Island ranks 4th in terms of the number of total cars per borough, the small population makes these numbers a bit confusing. If you were to divide the cars by the number of households, Staten Island dwarfs every other borough by a wide margin.

On average, a Staten Island household like Frank Camuso and his family, has an average of over 1 and a half cars. The next closest is Queens, with just about 1 car per household. This is a very interesting number, as on average, the average number of cars per household for the entirety of NYC is far below 1! And when you divide up the stats even further, and break Staten Island into the Mid-Island, and North & South Shores – the South Shore averages almost 2 full cars per household! Well above the NYS state average, and even most national averages. And these statistics seem obvious when one is to look at the traffic on the south shore, as well as the lack of public transportation services. For car reliant natives of Staten Island like Frank Camuso there simply isn’t another option, its either sit in traffic for an hour and a half or stay home. Even the north shore, that has more bus, and even a railway option averages about 1.32 cars per household – close to double the average for most of NYC.

While this problem will continue to worsen, as populations continue to rise, and Staten Island real estate has become a bit more in-demand. As more and more young professionals are starting families, they are trading in their rental apartments for the comforts of a Staten Island “starter-home”. The problem has gotten to be so big that Mayor de Blasio is working alongside Staten Island officials to hopefully bolster the public transportation issues, and possibly even institute a special tax-incentive for those families that can reduce their vehicle use – but of course, like everything else on Staten Island, this initiative is likely to take a long time to get in motion.