The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Aerial Gondola That Would Link Staten Island to Jersey Goes on Tour

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 24, 2017 2:43pm
 The SIEDC is pushing an aerial gondola between Staten Island and Bayonne.
Staten Island Gondola
View Full Caption

GRYMES HILL — Locals have been getting a sneak peek of car for the proposed aerial gondola between Staten Island and Bayonne in a bid to drum up support for the plan floated by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation.

"We said: 'You know what, we really think is the future,'" said said Steven Grillo, first vice president of the SIEDC. "You're going to basically replicate the subway system in the air."

The trip — which would take about 10 minutes and run between Elm Park and Bayonne, N.J. over the water — could connect commuters to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and PATH train in New Jersey and help shave off time for their commute to Manhattan, Grillo said.

The group estimates it could take commuters between 33 to 37 minutes to get from the gondola to the World Trade Center PATH station and about 62 minutes to get to 33rd Street in Manhattan.

The gondola will be able to shuttle about 4,000 people an hour with only one driver on the gondola and have a constant rotation of between 60 to 70 cabins on the line. Unlike other modes of transportation, they expect people to wait about 30 seconds for the next car to come.

For nearly two years, the SIEDC has been looking at taking to the skies to fix the borough's transportation issues and has started an effort to study the feasibility of the idea by the end of the year.

Last year, the group awarded a design competition for the project to the Colorado-based tram company Leitner-Poma of America — which also runs the Roosevelt Island Tram — which decided a $60 million gondola between Staten Island and New Jersey near the Bayonne Bridge would be the best bet.

SIEDC officials started to drive a prototype of the gondola cabin around the borough last week.  

"It's really about education," Grillo said. "When people start to see it and understand it I think it just becomes much more tangible."

The group is setting up shop in parking lots in the borough, where people can take a look inside the gondola, which was provided to them by Leitner-Poma. They emphasized that the gondola prototype can only sit about eight to 10 people, whereas the actual ones will be able to hold between 16 to 20 people.

Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the project "appealing" and said it was worth a look, the Staten Island Advance reported.

"Look, it's an appealing notion on its face, that it would be another alternative for Staten Islanders," de Blasio said.

"And, from what I understand, these things are a lot easier to build than they were in the past but I'm not an expert. I don't know how much we're talking about in terms of cost or who would pay for it, or any of those kinds of things." 

Grillo said the group plans to raise the $60 million privately with Leitner-Poma to build the gondola and it would only require approvals from state and city agencies to be built, not any public funds.

They expect it to be operated similar to the Roosevelt Island tram, where a state-run corporation oversees the management and a private company like Leitner-Poma maintains it.

Despite being high above the ground, gondolas can withstand all but extreme high winds and can still run in other poor weather conditions, Grillo said.

"When other modes of mass transit shuts down, gondolas can keep running," Grillo said.

They're also easier to maintain, cheaper and safer than other modes of mass transportation, Gizmodo reported.

The SIEDC will continue touring the smaller cabin until their annual Business Conference on Thursday where Leitner-Poma will give the keynote presentation on the proposal.

After that, the group will start work on getting a feasibility study done — either with their own money or with the help of local politicians — which they expect to be completed by the end of the year.

They do not have a timeline on when the gondola would start running if all the approvals are granted.

READ MORE: East River Gondola Plan Returns as L Train Shutdown Looms

The final two stops on the cabin's tour are:

► Wednesday: The cabin will be driven through the neighborhoods of Richmond Road, New Dorp, Huguenot and Richmond Valley from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
►  Thursday: The cabin will be parked outside the Hilton Garden Inn for the SIEDC Business Conference from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.