STATEN ISLAND — A $100 million plan to pay for bus rapid transit projects has been added to the state Assembly's proposed budget — including one on Staten Island not funded by the MTA.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Thursday that the money would be included in the proposed budget to help fund the Regional Bus Rapid Transit and Transportation Alternatives Program across the state.
The program helps move forward several projects aimed at cutting down commuter times, with a portion set to go towards a proposed North Shore BRT. The breakdowns of which projects will get how much hasn't been set yet, said Matthew Titone who represents Staten Island in the Assembly.
"The point is to get it on the table and take it from there. It’s a great success getting that on the table," Titone said.
The proposed BRT in Staten Island would link the St. George Ferry Terminal to the West Shore plaza and could cut some commuting times in half, according to the MTA. It would pave over the former North Shore rail line and cost an estimated $371 million to build, the MTA said.
The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and the New York League of Conservation Voters started a petition earlier this year to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to fund the project, which was left out in the MTA's proposed five-year capital plan.
"We applaud the Assembly for taking steps to invest in a Regional Bus Rapid Transit and Transportation Alternatives Program," Linda Baran, CEO of the Chamber, said in a statement.
"The Chamber has sought to bring an alternative to Staten Island's North Shore for more than a decade. Over the course of the next three to five years, the North Shore of Staten Island will experience a renaissance of development and growth."
Titone said he made sure the MTA will let them fund projects like the BRT incrementally, and hopes the Assembly's draft budget helps get the project back in the capital plan.
The deadline for the state to pass the budget is March 31.