View Full Version : New York Water Taxi Ferries

December 19th, 2001, 06:34 PM
New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com) reports:

December 19, 2001

On the Busy Ferries, It's Steady as He Goes


It is midmorning on a gray, cold day, and a full load of passengers is spilling out of the ferry at New York Waterway's Midtown terminal from Weehawken, N.J. Let's say that again. It's not even rush hour, and the ferry is packed.

Arthur E. Imperatore Jr., an athletic-looking guy in a forest green overcoat, is waiting at the West 38th Street terminal, mulling over the ferry schedule in his head. He enters the wheelhouse and tells the captain to hold a downtown boat for him and two visitors. You can do that sort of thing when you're the boss.

And Mr. Imperatore is Mr. Ferry Service. At 38, he's the president of New York Waterway, the largest privately owned commuter ferry operator in the country. Before Sept. 11, Mr. Imperatore was already sitting on top of a big transportation trend: ferries have become a crucial way to move people across the Hudson River and around New York City. Now, with subways off kilter and the PATH train out beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center, ferry business is booming.

Mr. Imperatore's boats carried 32,000 passengers a day before Sept. 11, and now there are nearly 60,000 a day. His company has chartered ferries from up and down the Northeast coast, including whale-watching boats from Massachusetts. The service is running 35 boats during rush hour.

"If Sept. 11 had not happened, we would have reached this level of ridership in five to six years, but we reached it almost overnight," says Mr. Imperatore, boarding a ferry for the five-minute ride to Weehawken, where the company is based. "It has raised the awareness of a lot of new people about the capability of ferries. They're not a toy. They're serious transportation and to a large extent they've helped hold Lower Manhattan together in the last three months."

Mr. Imperatore, a real estate lawyer, took the job of company president nearly six years ago from his father, a trucking and real estate magnate who was considered nuts by transportation professionals when he started the ferry company in 1986.

His multimillionaire father, a grocer's son, is famous for his street savvy and fiery temper. But the younger Imperatore is reserved, yet friendly. He attended St. Paul's, a boarding school in New Hampshire, then studied at Yale and Harvard, where as a doctoral candidate in American history he considered a teaching career.

As head of a company that is all about nautical transit, the funny thing is that Mr. Imperatore has never been drawn to boats. He loves to fly single-engine planes, something he gave up after he became the father of four children.

"But I do love the waterfront, and I love what I'm doing," he says. "It's unique, historic and making a lasting contribution to the future of the city and the region."

Mr. Imperatore is focusing much of his attention these days on building the 400-employee ferry business. One project that intrigues him is a new proposal to transform a 90-year-old New York Central Railroad float bridge at the foot of 69th Street into a landing for small, high-speed ferries. He sees a chance to create a new commuter ferry to Lower Manhattan.

"It's still at a very early stage, but we're in touch with the Riverside Park South people to let them know of our interest," he says, noting how the company has a similar service on the East River from East 90th Street to Wall Street.

Mr. Imperatore, whose last name is Italian for emperor and pronounced im-PER-a-tor by the family, is now standing in Weehawken's main terminal, Port Imperial. He is on his cellphone, telling an employee that a ferry route map on display is six weeks out of date and needs replacing. His company has added seven routes since the trade center attacks.

IN the landscaped waiting area near the commuter parking lot, he is kneeling to scoop up an old plastic water bottle and stuffing a discarded newspaper wrapper in his pocket. "This is a very detail-oriented business," he says. "Another part of my job description is picking up litter. We're a very hands-on operation."

Back on the water again, we're heading to Lower Manhattan, this time on a high-speed catamaran that seats 150 passengers. As Mr. Imperatore surveys the altered skyline, he says it still makes him do double-takes. The ferry passes Battery Park City, where he and his wife, Marian, an architect, had lived for eight years before moving to Englewood, N.J.

Recalling Sept. 11, Mr. Imperatore talks a lot faster and absent-mindedly wrings his hands. He saw the south tower collapse as he guided a vessel at top speed toward downtown to help out. That day, his ferry service evacuated about 160,000 people from Manhattan.

On this day, though, the waves are gentle, the air smells pleasantly marshy; all is serene on the bobbing boat. "There is something almost spiritual about being on the water," he says. "It gives you a moment of peace and reflection."

Like that historian he never became, he muses on the ferry's role in the building — and rebuilding — of New York City.

"When the history of New York City and the New York Harbor is written 25 to 30 years from now, I think people will look back on the ferry industry as one of the major factors in the development of the 21st-century city," he says. "The river is changing from being a barrier into both a highway and a commons around which whole new communities are being developed."

The view of the New York Waterway's ferry and Manhattan from the Alexander Hamilton Park in Weehawken, NJ.


The gantry of the float bridge of New York Central Railroad at 69th Street in front of the 160 Riverside Boulevard at Trump Place (http://www.wirednewyork.com/trump_place/trump_place_160_riverside.htm)


October 27th, 2002, 12:02 PM
From Derecktor Shipyards:

[ Mamaroneck , NY ] -- New York Water Taxi (NYWT) recently took delivery of “MICKEY MURPHY”, the first of a series of 53’ passenger ferries built by Derecktor Shipyards. With these bright yellow boats sporting a black and white checkered trim, the NYC operator will enhance waterborne transportation for New York City residents and the 16 million tourists who visit the major attractions on the West Side , Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn waterfront each year.

Designed by Nigel Gee & Associates, the new Water Taxi is an all-aluminum catamaran with a low-wake hull and a top speed of 25 knots carrying 54 seated passengers. The vessel is a bow-loader and the passengers walk directly from the bow into the cabin located on the main deck. An ADA ramp allows easy access for wheelchairs, which are accommodated in dedicated spaces in the main cabin. The fully heated and air-conditioned cabin has 54 comfortable seats by Beurteaux (with a total capacity of 75 passengers), a small bar aft and an ADA compliant toilet. Large windows assure ample visibility and a central row of outward-facing back-to-back seats allows passengers to enjoy panoramic views of the cityscape during their ride. The open top deck has a removable seating arrangement for use in excursions and summer cruises. Two Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, giving out 600 horsepower at 2100 RPM through Twin Disc gears, power the ferry.

Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, spearheaded the project and put a tremendous effort into the coordination with various city and state authorities involved in the new service and the organization of the vessel routes and operations. “New York Water Taxi is very excited about bringing this service to New Yorkers and being involved with responsible utilization of the city’s waterfront as a transportation resource. “ The flexible multi-use vessels can land at a myriad of business, recreational and residential locations around Manhattan with minor modifications to existing piers.



Vessel Description...............................Low Wake Passenger Catamaran
Naval Architect.................................. Nigel Gee & Associates
Builder........................................... ..... Derecktor Shipyards
Hull Material...................................... Aluminum alloy
Superstructure.................................... .Aluminum alloy
Accommodations.................................54 Seated (75 max.)
Engines………..……………………. 2 x Detroit Diesel Series 60, 600 BHP, keel cooled
Total capacity……………………… 54 Seated (75 max.)
Class……………………………....... Small Passenger Vessel For Use On Protected Waters Only. USCG, Subchapter "T", Rivers

General Dimensions

Length Overall………………..……. 53.3'
Beam Overall…………...…...………19'
Draught …………….…….....………. 4'


October 27th, 2002, 12:05 PM
Water Transit: Our Urban Future?

Opinion By Neal Peirce
Special to Stateline.org
October 21, 2002

NEW YORK--A small fleet of jaunty water taxis, 53-foot catamarans painted yellow with a checkerboard strip reminiscent of Manhattan's old Checker cabs, has begun to ply the waters daily between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Are these boats harbingers of choice and change in urban transportation, an alternative to the gridlock, fumes and frustration of normal land routes?

Zipping on a clear, windy Saturday morning from Brooklyn's historic Fulton Street landing, past the Brooklyn Bridge, catching a great view of the Statute of Liberty, touching in quickly at Battery Park City, the World Financial Center, Chelsea Piers and West 44th Street--all within a few minutes--I turned into a true believer.

New York already has big ferries bringing thousands of workers from New Jersey and Staten Island to Manhattan. But Tom Fox, New York Water Taxi founder, and his billionaire backer, real estate mogul Douglas Durst, have an even wider vision.

With their speed and flexibility, Fox and Durst believe, high-quality water taxis can fill a vital niche, not just serving tourists and commuters but bringing new life and connectivity to sometimes-isolated neighborhoods and helping open up new parks and cultural institutions along the waterfront.

I've known Fox since the 1980s. A Navy gunner in Vietnam, he's a civic idealist and glad warrior for smart, green, people-sensitive waterfront development. He fought Westway, the proposed mega-highway development on Manhattan's West Side. On a task force formulating a replacement plan, he struggled for a green esplanade running beside the boulevard replacement. He then became president of the Hudson Park Conservancy, drawing up the master plan.

Today major elements of the new park--4.5 miles long, 550 acres, dotted with 14 public piers, esplanades, bikeways and pathways--are coming into place. And Fox's water taxis--specially designed with low-wake hulls and spunky but environmentally friendly engines--are running right along it.

It's an especially sweet moment for Fox, because he'd tried water taxi service in 1997 but failed for lack of sufficient backing or powerful enough equipment. With Durst's hefty financial support, the prospects are now brighter. Plus, Lower Manhattan needs radically improved transportation links to complete its post-Sept. 11 recovery.

On the fiscal side, there's the market of the millions of tourists who continue to pour into New York--even more now to visit the World Trade Center site, directly on Fox's route. Looking across North America, seeing how many cities are situated by oceans, lakes or rivers, it's hard to believe water transportation--catamarans, hydrofoils, monohulls and others--won't be flourishing in the next years. The reason is not just traffic congestion.

Technology breakthroughs are permitting the boats to travel at greater speeds with less environmental impact, while water transit is now eligible for federal assistance under new funding laws.

Plus fun and convenience. Take the 25-minute commuter boat run from Hingham, 17 miles south of Boston. In lieu of sitting an hour or more ``on the perpetually snail-like Southeast Expressway,'' notes The Boston Globe's Paul Kandarian, commuters can avoid all the angry drivers, smoke-belching trucks and blaring horns, enjoying ``clear sailing all the way into the gut of the city's financial district.''

Of the 3,800 daily Hingham ferry commuters, many use the ride for a cup of coffee, to work on their laptops, or just watch magnificent views of the Boston skyline, the harbor islands, planes peeling off into the sky from Logan Airport, or on occasion, spottings of harbor seals or porpoises.

Across the continent, the San Francisco Bay Water Transportation Authority is well into a 10-year plan that will have 70 ferries operating out of 28 terminals.

From Seattle's fabled ferry fleets to proposed service on the Intracoastal Waterway at Palm Beach, Fla., from Louisville, Ky., to Lake Tahoe, Nev., proposed new ferry and water taxi services are sprouting up broadly.

Finer boats clearly do make a difference. Fox's new catamarans, for example, have quality seats in a big-windowed all-weather compartment, an outside viewing area, a bar and electronic displays showing the stops.

But I like New York Water Taxi for another reason. Its homeport is Brooklyn's Red Hook, a hardscrabble neighborhood cruelly isolated by highway and bridge construction a generation ago. Water taxis now give Red Hook direct access to Manhattan, boosting appeal for new families and investment.

Still, directly across from the Red Hook mooring for the bright new yellow taxis is a pier crumbling into the water--a reminder of New York's tough years of waterfront decay.

Fox has named the new catamarans after New York civic heroes. One, the Mickey Murphy, is in honor of Mary Ellen Murphy, a New Yorker who fought passionately (until her death last January, at 84) for preserving working waterfronts, even while opening them to the public. How fitting!

October 27th, 2002, 12:11 PM
New York City water taxi company takes off


(October 21, 2002) — NEW YORK — Tom Fox’s taxi cruised toward Wall Street at 28 mph, cutting through waves rather than traffic.

“It’s a lively ride,” said Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, which ferries passengers along the Hudson River and around lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. The water taxi service was launched on Sept. 25, two weeks after the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

All around Manhattan, ferry ridership has grown since the attacks. The region’s largest ferry, New York Waterway, has seen many thousands more daily riders in the past year.

So far, New York Water Taxi’s three yellow, checker-painted vessels carry about 300 people on an average day. Each can accommodate up to 54 passengers on padded indoor seats, plus 20 seated on the upper deck.

Water Taxi was launched with a $4.5 million investment from real estate mogul Douglas Durst.

The most efficient ride is from the stop just under the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan -- a 2 ø-minute scoot across the East River that cuts the alternative subway commute time by about half.

The current six-stop route traces Manhattan’s shore from West 44th Street in midtown to the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn.

Fares vary depending on the time of day and the number of stops, with a one-way, one-stop trip costing $3 during rush hours (and $2 as part of a 10-trip booklet). A trip covering the entire route is $8, and an off-hour, single-stop ride costs $4.

“When you’re out on the water, you really feel the might of New York City. You remember that this was once a bustling commercial harbor,” said Katie Dixon, who works as an architectural designer in the Wall Street neighborhood.

Several times a week, she takes the new ferry three stops to her health club. Before, she used the subway or a cab, which took longer.

“The water taxi to me is a great way to enjoy your day while you’re going to work,” said Vince McGowan, who manages various buildings in Manhattan.

By next year, Fox and Durst plan to add another handful of stops to the Water Taxi route, taking in Manhattan’s Upper West Side as well as stops for Greenwich Village, Tribeca and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Three more boats are under construction.

October 27th, 2002, 12:22 PM
New York Water Taxi website is at

Need to get around New York? We've got just the ticket.

New York Water Taxi has ticket options to suit every need and every budget. Tickets are available at each of our landings and onboard the boats.
Commuter Service.
Commuter service is available Monday through Friday, from 6:30am–9:30am and 4:30pm–7:00pm. Skip the traffic, the train, the bus and the chaos of getting to and from work. Pick up one of our commuter tickets and travel in speed and comfort for just $3.00 each way.

Midday Service.
Monday through Friday, from 9:30am–4:30pm
Saturday 11:00am–8:00pm
Sunday 11:00am–8:00pm

All-Day Pass.
Hop on and off New York Water Taxi at any time during a 24-hour period with our All-Day Pass. Adults: $15/Seniors 65+ and Children 12 and under: $12

Fun Pass.
Want to go beyond the waterfront? Our Fun Pass allows you to hop on and off our boats and use the MTA bus and subway system to access the entire city. Adults: $19/ Seniors 65+ and Children 12 and under: $16

One-Stop/One-Way Ticket.
If you’re just taking a short trip, from one stop to the next, our One-Stop ticket is the way to go. All ages: $4

If your trip is a bit longer and you’ll be going one way for more than one stop, our One-Way Ticket is the one for you. Adults: $8/Seniors 65+ and Children 12 and under: $6







October 31st, 2002, 09:43 PM
The view of midtown Manhattan (http://www.wirednewyork.com/manhattan/default.htm) from New York Waterway ferry crossing Hudson River.


April 13th, 2003, 11:13 AM
New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) and Perry West condominiums (http://www.wirednewyork.com/real_estate/perry_west/default.htm).

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/perry_west_water_taxi_27oct02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) at World Financial Center's North Cove Marina.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/30hudson/images/30hudson_wfc_sunset_27oct02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) leaving Fulton Ferry Landing.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi_fulton_ferry_landing_5oct02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) approaching Pier 11 in downtown Manhattan.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi_downtown_skyscrapers_9march03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

April 13th, 2003, 05:11 PM
I love those little yellow boats.

April 14th, 2003, 10:23 AM
I'm really glad to see that people seem to be using them. This really would be great for the city if it really took off as a prime means of transportation.

June 28th, 2003, 09:38 PM
New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) boat leaving Pier 63 Maritime (http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier63maritime/default.htm) stop, with fireboat John J. Harvey docked at the pier.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier63maritime/pier63maritime_water_taxi_28june03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

September 17th, 2003, 09:27 AM
September 17, 2003

U.S. Will Give City $5 Million to Cut Air Pollution by Ferries


Over the last few years, thousands of smoke-spewing buses on New York City streets have been rebuilt and cleaned up, leading to the reduction of tons of dangerous diesel soot.

Yesterday, a coalition of city, state and federal officials announced that money would now be spent to try to clean up a different type of transportation: privately owned harbor ferries, which are much bigger and are starting to appear with much more frequency around the city.

The Federal Transit Administration said it would give $5 million to a program, which it describes as the first in the nation, that would look for ways to clean exhaust from 40 diesel-powered ferries, reducing dangerous emissions by 75 to 90 percent. State and federal officials said the goal was to reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxide by 150 to 300 tons a year and of tiny diesel particles by 30 to 90 tons a year.

Officials said the program, to which the city has directed an additional $1.8 million in federal pollution-reduction funds, was especially needed because of a huge increase in ferry ridership since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Private ferry traffic has doubled, to 1,000 trips a day, in the last two years, the city has said.

Unlike city buses, ferries are not covered by government emissions standards, and none of the ferries in New York Harbor are equipped with pollution controls, according to Environmental Defense, a national nonprofit group. Diesel emissions have been found to contain cancer-causing compounds and are believed to worsen asthma conditions.

Jane M. Kenny, the Environmental Protection Agency's regional administrator for New York, said that while federal regulations would soon reduce emissions from new ferry engines, the city must figure out how to clean up the fleets of ferries already in service by using cleaner fuels and new filtering technology.

"We have to be concerned about the nitrogen oxide and fine particulates that these ferries emit into the air," Ms. Kenny said yesterday.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

September 20th, 2003, 11:07 PM


August 30, 2003 -- New York Waterway is raising fares on its main ferry routes between New Jersey and Manhattan - and shutting down an East River route.

The 15 percent fare increase kicks in Monday. The Weehawken, N.J.-based company says the extra money is needed to continue expanding what has become the largest commuter ferry operation in the country.

The Port Authority has authorized New York Water Taxi to pick up the dumped route, which runs between Hunters Point in Queens and Wall Street, with stops in between. It was to end yesterday.

New York Water Taxi will begin operating the route Tuesday.

"We got about 200 phone calls, e-mails and petitions," said Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi.

New York Waterway spokesman Pat Smith had a simple reason for giving up the routes: "No one was riding them. The total number of people on all three routes on an average workday was 450 people."

Despite New York Waterway's failure to make the routes a success, Fox believes the smaller scale of water taxis, which seat only 74 passengers, gives his company an edge.

"This fits right into our business model," said Fox. "We think we can succeed where others have failed. We think we can market it better, cut some of the costs, and make a business out of it."

Post-Sept. 11, the ferry service was subsidized by the government on those routes. The subsidies ended three months ago.

"We ran 90 days without subsidies," said Smith.

NY Waterway, which now operates 46 boats, has doubled its business over the past two years. It saw substantial increases in ridership after the terrorist attacks and ridership has soared since then from 30,000 passengers per day to more than 62,000.

However, the company also has come under increasing scrutiny, including a federal investigation into its use of almost $30 million in government subsidies to pay for extra service after 9/11.

September 20th, 2003, 11:14 PM
New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) on a new route from E 90th Street to E 34th Street. Queensborough Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/queensborough_bridge/default.htm) in the background. 20 September 2003.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi_20sept03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

TLOZ Link5
September 21st, 2003, 12:21 PM
Will New Jersey commuters still use the ferries after PATH service is restored?

February 8th, 2004, 05:55 PM
New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) approaching the Hunters Point stop in Queens, with Empire State Building and Chrysler Building on the other side of East River.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi_queens_8feb04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

February 9th, 2004, 09:15 AM
This is the first I've read of the water taxi service; very clever and economical.

February 9th, 2004, 11:47 AM
Found in a german fotocommunity:

TLOZ Link5
February 9th, 2004, 02:35 PM

March 4th, 2004, 09:20 PM
Nice pic.

March 16th, 2004, 03:03 PM
New York Daily News

March 16, 2004

Water taxi waves hello to Red Hook


Commuters bound from Brooklyn to the lower Manhattan Financial District just got some ferry good news.

Starting today, New York Water Taxi is running ferry service from Van Brunt St. on the Red Hook waterfront to Wall St.

The service will run from the Beard Street Pier to Brooklyn Army Terminal and on to Pier 11/Wall St., between 6:51a.m. and 10:25 a.m. each weekday, and reverse from 4:24 p.m. to 8:29 p.m.

Boats will leave approximately every 25 minutes.

"We are thrilled to be a part of the Red Hook business community and to be providing reliable transportation," said New York Water Taxi chairman Douglas Durst.

The Red Hook-to-Wall St. ferry is the latest nautical development in a neighborhood with a rich maritime history.

With the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel beginning in the 1950s, Red Hook was isolated, in mass-transit terms, from the rest of Brooklyn and the city.

The conversion from cargo to container in the 1960s significantly reduced maritime commerce on the Red Hook waterfront.

The arrival of ferry service should come as welcome news to a neighborhood currently served by only two city bus lines, with the nearest subway stop in the adjacent Carroll Gardens neighborhood. Locals have long had to rely on bus and subway connections to travel to Manhattan.

New York Water Taxi, which established its operation in Red Hook in 2001, recently relocated its corporate offices from lower Manhattan to the Beard Street Pier.

For ferry fares and schedules, visit the Web site: www.nywatertaxi.com

Copyright 2004 Daily News, L.P.

March 31st, 2004, 07:04 PM
JERSEY CITY: NEW FERRY OPERATOR Starting tomorrow, New York Water Taxi will take over from NY Waterway the ferry route between the Colgate docks in Jersey City and Pier 11 near Wall Street. That route, which serves about 950 passengers each weekday, could become much busier this spring when Goldman Sachs opens its office tower on Jersey City's waterfront and several thousand people start working at what will be New Jersey's tallest building. NY Waterway also is in danger of losing the rights to a new route between Bayonne and Manhattan.(AP)

June 7th, 2004, 01:23 PM
Water taxi service adds to its fleet

by Christine Haughney
June 7, 2004

New York Water Taxi, a ferry service that runs between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City, is adding two taxis to its fleet to meet growing demand.

The number of passengers taking the ferry nearly quadrupled to 63,000 in May from 17,500 a year ago.

With $5 million from the New York City Investment Fund and the service's founder, the Durst Buildings Corp., the ferry service has ordered the construction of two 99-passenger catamarans for completion by summer 2005.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

July 2nd, 2004, 03:54 PM
Sea change for Bay Ridge commuters

July 2, 2004

Commuters in Bay Ridge soon will be able to hop a taxi to Manhattan for a measly $5 - a water taxi.

That's because the Red Hook-based New York Water Taxi will expand its ferry service to Bay Ridge after a floating dock is built there early next year, sources said.

"We've had people from Bay Ridge tell us they'd take the water taxi if it were more accessible for pedestrians," said Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi.

Once the terminal is built at the 69th St. Pier - which is walking distance for a large section of Bay Ridge - ferries will make stops there and then Sunset Park before ending at Wall Street in lower Manhattan.

A one-way ride will cost $5; monthly passes reduce the cost to $4.

City Council members David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) and Vincent Gentile (D-Dyker Heights) said they recognized the need to expand transportation options for the southern Brooklyn neighborhood.

Together, they secured the $500,000 needed to pay for the new dock - as well as $125,000 in subsidies to keep the taxicab-yellow ferries chugging.

"It really can represent a sea change in the way commuters choose their way to work," Gentile said.

Yassky noted that using New York City's abundant waterways is the "cheapest, most environmentally friendly way" to expand the city's transportation network - and an important option should disaster strike again.

"We saw on Sept. 11 that ferry service took a quarter of a million people out of downtown Manhattan," Yassky said.

Although the two-year-old company shuttles 70,000 commuters a day from ports in Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey to and from Manhattan, the current Sunset Park line does not have enough commuters yet to turn a profit. It is hoped the new stop in Bay Ridge - which has not seen active commuter ferry use in 40 years - will provide a boost to ridership, Fox said.

For Bay Ridge residents who complain of interminable R train rides, the ferry will be another option besides the express bus to get swiftly into the city, said Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann.

And apart from taking just 15 minutes to cross the river, the ferry offers other advantages, Fox said.

"It really is gorgeous - you'll be looking at the lower Manhattan skyline every day," he said. "It's a beautiful way to get to work."

All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

July 18th, 2004, 01:41 AM
July 18, 2004


Embracing an Idea of Yore to Bring Manhattan Closer


Growing up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in the 1950's, Tom Fox used to take a ferry from the 69th Street pier in Bay Ridge to Staten Island, heading for a scenic waterfront that was home to his Boy Scout camp and sheep-dotted hillsides.

The sheep, of course, are long gone and nearly 40 years ago the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge replaced the ferry as a means of transit between the two boroughs. For years, the 69th Street pier has been without ferry service. Besides the closing of the Staten Island line, a route that ran to Lower Manhattan in the late 80's and early 90's also shut down when the pier closed for repairs.

Mr. Fox, now 57 and president of New York Water Taxi, wants to bring back a little of the past. Two City Council members from Brooklyn, Vincent Gentile and David Yassky, have lined up $500,000 in city money to install a floating dock at the pier, and Mr. Fox hopes to be running ferries from 69th Street to Lower Manhattan by next spring.

Mr. Gentile, whose district includes Bay Ridge, says he thinks the service will help bring Brooklyn and Manhattan a little bit closer. "We've seen a lot of families and a lot of young professionals leave Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights because it's difficult to get into the city and work," he said. "I'm looking to reverse that trend."

Traveling to Lower Manhattan from Bay Ridge by subway can take 45 minutes. But the neighborhood has recently become more popular with commuters, in part because of recent changes in subway service that gave the area an express train for the first time in years. Still, Mr. Fox said he had heard new residents complain about their travel time. The ferry ride to Pier 11 at Wall Street, he said, will take about 18 minutes.

His company already has a terminal at 58th Street in Sunset Park - it will remain open even after the 69th Street pier is finished - but it is relatively isolated and hard to reach without a car.

The pier at 69th Street, though, is more pedestrian-friendly. "It's the terminus of a bus route, and it's a commercial street." Mr. Fox said.

For Mr. Gentile, the pier renovation is not about just convenience, but about taking full advantage of the natural resources that attracted settlers to New York hundreds of years ago.

"Other cities would kill for the opportunity to use the waterways that we have in New York," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

September 23rd, 2004, 11:10 PM
Boat Tour: Brooklyn’s Working Waterfront
Brooklyn Historical Society is pleased to introduce Brooklyn’s Working Waterfront, a new series of guided boat tours along the East River waterfront every Saturday in October and November. Passengers are picked up from South Street Seaport at 11 a.m. and Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn at 11:05 a.m., with drop-off at both locations. Tours approx. one hour; reservations strongly suggested.

Call New York Water Taxi at 212.742.1969.
Members $18, non-members $20, children of members ages 12 and under $12, non-member children 12 and under $14.

September 23rd, 2004, 11:17 PM
Nature of NYC Eco-tours
Sundays in October and November, 9:30-11 am
At Pier 17 South Street Seaport
Cost: $35 ($30 for NYC Audubon Members)

New York City Audubon presents eco-tours on New York Water Taxis, specializing in the seasonal birds of the Harbor.
Join NYC Audubon naturalists for a unique nature experience. Watch fall migrating hawks, eagles and waterfowl while learning about the geology, history, and marine life of the estuary.

Call NY Water Taxi at 212-742-1969 for reservations.

October 22nd, 2004, 10:02 AM
October 22, 2004

Ferry Company Warns of Cuts or a Shutdown


After years of expansion that helped to radically change the way thousands of New Yorkers and New Jersey residents get to work every day, the largest company providing ferry service in the metropolitan region has told transportation officials that it is in financial trouble and may be unable to continue providing service to its 38,000 daily commuters.

The company, New York Waterway, has transportation officials scrambling to figure out how to fill the possible gap and maintain service along its routes up and down the Hudson River - from Haverstraw in Rockland County, N.Y., to Belford in Monmouth County, N.J., with most also stopping in Midtown and the financial district in Lower Manhattan.

Officials are concerned that a shutdown or even a reduction in service by New York Waterway could send commuters back onto highways, trains and buses, further clogging already congested commuter routes.

The problem is an alarming development in what had been hailed as a renaissance in water-borne travel, a throwback to a more placid and environmentally friendly past. Much of the revival was sparked by Arthur E. Imperatore Sr., a former trucking executive, who turned a romantic notion of reviving ferry service in New York Harbor into New York Waterway, a multimillion-dollar company. The company went on to dominate the regional market.

But, in response to questions, Mr. Imperatore's son, Arthur Imperatore Jr., president of New York Waterway, said in a statement yesterday that the company was in talks with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to "maintain continuity of ferry service to Lower Manhattan." The statement acknowledged a "cash flow issue."

"Because of substantial increases in the price of fuel, a diminished job market in Lower Manhattan and a greater-than-anticipated drop-off in ridership to Lower Manhattan occasioned by the resumption of PATH service, certain routes are not generating sufficient cash flow to sustain their continued operations," the statement said.

The problems have apparently persisted, despite a rise in the number of commuters in recent months and two fare increases in the last year. The average round-trip fare is $19.

Anthony R. Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority, confirmed that New York Waterway had approached the agency with "certain financial issues" that were affecting "their operating status."

Mr. Coscia said that members of the agency's staff have been meeting with New York Waterway officials to better assess their needs, and try to ensure that ferry service is maintained.

One Port Authority official said agency staff members believe that New York Waterway is not merely trying to squeeze financial aid or concessions out of the agency. The official said they believe the company is at the point where it wants the Port Authority or others to take over its service.

Among the options that agency officials are said to be considering is asking the two smaller ferry operators - New York Water Taxi and Seastreak - whether they would be able to expand their service and take over some of the New York Waterway routes.

Officials are also considering whether they are able to subsidize operating costs for ferry service; ferries are the only mass transit means in the region that do not receive some form of direct government subsidy of operating costs.

To this point, the Port Authority and local governments have only invested in equipment and in ferry docks, with an estimated $100 million in mostly federal money spent in recent years on both sides of the Hudson.

"The ferry operations are critical and that makes New York Waterway's ability to operate important," Mr. Coscia said. "They have 16 routes, and some are more viable than others. But at this point we are still studying the situation."

Some Port Authority officials said they did not know if even subsidies would be enough to keep the New York Waterway ferries in operation.

For the last year the industry has seen reports of trouble for the company. But word of specific talks between the New York Waterway and the Port Authority marks a significant development.

Founded in 1986, the company was so shaky at first that some dubbed it "Arthur's Folly,'' seeing it as no more than the dream of a man, now 77, willing to speculate on his hopes for a revival of waterbound commuting.

After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 - with the PATH train to Lower Manhattan out of service and many commuters seeking alternatives to the Hudson River tunnels and trains - ridership soared, enabling the company to reap millions in profits.

New York Waterway, which used its ferries on Sept. 11 to evacuate people from the burning ruins of the twin towers area, was also the recipient of millions in federal assistance to provide additional service that could replicate the PATH rail schedules.

At one point, New York Waterway had 92 percent of a market that carried as many as 64,000 commuters a day between New Jersey terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City to Manhattan landings at Midtown, Battery Park City and Pier 11 near the tip of the island.

The company acquired a "favorite son" status in the industry, according to competitors, and its officials seemed more than willing to throw their considerable political and economic weight around to get new routes and block attempts by others to compete.

New York Waterway continued to expand its number of routes, even as smaller competitors began to draw off a larger share of the market, raising questions of whether the company had overextended its service.

Further, after PATH service was restored to Lower Manhattan last December, ridership dropped. According to the latest Mayor's Management Report, overall ridership, which reached a record high of 64,063 a day in 2003 on the three private lines, dropped by 22 percent this year, though it has begun to climb again in recent months.

According to others in the industry, Mr. Imperatore has also been hurt by an investigation by the United States attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan and the inspector general of the Port Authority into the company's use of about $27 million in federal funds and possible antitrust violations.

One New York Waterway official said that the cost of defending the company has taken a toll on its bottom line.

In addition, this year the company agreed to pay New York City about $800,000 to settle a dispute over landing fees for its ferries at city-owned docks.

New York Waterway has also recently become the object of commuter complaints about poor service and shoddy equipment. Commuters banded together last year to form Ferry Friends.

The group has complained bitterly about the recent fare increases and urged riders to boycott the company's concessions at the ferry terminals.

"They have had two years to razzle-dazzle us and they haven't," said Deborah Jack, one of the organizers of the group, referring to New York Waterway's virtual dominance over ferry service. "The service has deteriorated, on-time performance is down and there is an arrogance and blatant disregard of customers. People are sick and tired of monopoly."

While the extent of the privately held company's financial problems could not be determined, some Port Authority officials said that the losses were staggering and that the company "wanted out" of the ferry business.

But the Port Authority officials said they were not willing to let the service lapse.

"We have a big stake in this," one agency commissioner said.

Some officials said the stake was so big, it could eventually mean that the Port Authority will take over ferry operations completely and run them through the agency, much the way the agency did four decades ago when it took over PATH service across the Hudson River to Manhattan.

One of the crucial questions raised by the company's financial difficulties is what it means for the future of about $250 million in publicly financed ferry terminal construction on both sides of the river. New York Waterway had, in a move that angered other ferry companies, been designated the operator of those terminals, which represented the most tangible evidence of the government's stake in the future of ferry travel.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

October 23rd, 2004, 12:13 AM
Would never have thought they are in a financial trouble, always busy - lots of travellers.

TLOZ Link5
October 23rd, 2004, 12:28 AM
Would never have thought they are in a financial trouble, always busy - lots of travellers.

You would think the same of the MTA, though.

October 23rd, 2004, 12:47 AM
MTA gets $2, NY Waterway gets $20 - surely it must make a difference.

October 23rd, 2004, 11:24 AM
It's only a guess on my part, but, considering all the capital projects underway to raise the comfort and convenience of ferry travel in NY (i.e. West Side Ferry Terminal, BPC terminal, Whitehall Ferry Terminal), this just seems like the beginning of a campaign to win tax breaks and concessions from NYC. It is all playing from the perspective of it's impact on NY. What's about the commuter perspective? What about the terminals on the other side of the river that will be impacted? Or, do they know something NYC officials don't? NYC Waterways has proven one thing very clearly in its term of existence: it's management very liuttle business acumen.

October 23rd, 2004, 01:41 PM
NY Times

Ferry Riders Weigh the Prospects of Higher Fares, or Even No Rides at All.

Published: October 23, 2004

HOBOKEN, Oct. 22 - Riding the choppy waters of the Hudson River on Friday, ferry riders urged transportation officials to figure out a way to preserve the region's largest private ferry company, New York Waterway, without reducing service or raising fares.

The riders, reacting to news that New York Waterway is having financial troubles and is in discussions with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about how to maintain service, said they were surprised, sad and worried that their daily commuting routine would be disrupted if an arrangement cannot be worked out.

"I've been riding the ferry for 12 years, and it is the best way to commute," said Steve Bauman, 39, a marketing manager for an insurance company. "It is more expensive than the PATH and other methods, but it is faster and better. It would be a real blow if they took it away."

Mr. Bauman is one of an estimated 38,000 daily commuters who travel on the Hudson River, rather than over or under it. Some of New York Waterway riders said they had long heard from ferry personnel that the company was in financial trouble, but they had hoped that things had gotten better.

"I find it amazing that the company is having money problems," said Virginia Calabrese, a financial clerk from Bayonne, as she rode a ferry from Hoboken on Friday morning. "The boats are full, and they charge $8 for a round-trip ticket. It seems like a money maker, and it is a premium service people want to pay for."

Officials from New York Waterway and the Port Authority said they were continuing to meet, but they refused to disclose details about their discussions.

The company says it has "cash flow problems" and has asked the authority to help figure out how to maintain service on some routes. Port Authority officials are said to be considering a variety of options, including subsidies, shifting routes to the two other ferry companies and even taking over the service.

But an official at one of the smaller companies that also provides ferry service said that the industry would not be able to maintain the level of service that commuters are used to without government operating subsidies, which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city would not provide. The city has long operated ferries between Staten Island and Manhattan.

"I don't know what they're looking for, but I can tell you the city doesn't have any bucks, thank you," Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program on WABC radio. But, he added, "all kinds of transportation in one way or another does seem to wind up subsidized by government."

New York Waterway's troubles have transportation and government officials reeling. The company had led a revival of ferry service in the region, then had expanded rapidly, establishing routes up and down the Hudson River and making ferry service an integral part of the transportation system that carries commuters between New York and New Jersey.

Environmentalists and planners have lauded the trend, which provided an alternative to congested roads, bridges, tunnels and railroads. It also restored a romantic notion of the city and brought a renewed life to its waterways.

The two smaller companies that provide ferry service to 6,000 customers daily, New York Water Taxi and SeaStreak, declined to comment on Friday about whether the Port Authority had asked them to take over routes that New York Waterway might have to abandon.

David Stafford, general manager of SeaStreak, issued a statement assuring riders there would be no disruption in service on his company's routes from Atlantic Highlands and South Amboy, N.J., to Lower Manhattan. But Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, said that the industry deserved some governmental assistance. The firms now receive only assistance to buy equipment and build ferry docks.

"But a lot of us feel that that is not sufficient," Mr. Fox said. "The best approach is to have them subsidize us against the fare box on routes that they want until it becomes a money-making operation for us."

Deborah Jack, who operates a Web site dedicated to ferry travel to New York, has been a critic of New York Waterway for several years. She expressed hope for a government takeover of New York Waterway.

She said she wanted the Port Authority or New Jersey Transit to take over from Arthur E. Imperatore Jr., the president of New York Waterway, and use its resources to make the ferry more viable.

"Ferry service has become a necessary means of transportation, but has become more and more expensive so that only certain people can afford it," Ms. Jack said.

But she warned that if the Port Authority awarded a ferry contract to another private company, like SeaStreak or New York Water Taxi, commuters would soon find themselves in the same predicament of fare increases and limited schedules.

"There is a great opportunity to do something spectacular with the light rail and the PATH and the ferry to make the commute easier and to ease the congestion in the tunnels and roads," she said.

She said that with a government takeover, tickets could be used for either rail or ferry service. Some commuters said that if prices continued to rise, they might switch to the PATH train or other ways to get into Manhattan.

"Right now a monthly pass for the ferry is $123 and the PATH costs $80," said Tracey Starr of Ramsey as she exited a ferry at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. "I hope they do not close the ferry down, but if they do or raise fares again, then I might start taking the PATH."

November 2nd, 2004, 07:32 AM
November 2, 2004

Once Folly, Then Vital Post-9/11 Link, Ferry Seeks Help


New York Waterway, the dominant private Hudson ferry system, expanded its fleet after 9/11, but ridership declined and federal aid was cut off.

The New York Waterway ferry landing in Battery Park City. The company and its competitors have benefited from $250 million in public financing for ferry terminals.

In the beginning, they laughed at Arthur E. Imperatore Sr., labeled his dream a folly and ridiculed his plan to restore ferry service to New York's waterways as little more than a romantic vision and a throwback to a bygone age.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. Suddenly ferry travel became more than a lure to attract buyers to luxury developments or a way to keep a few cars off the road and a few people off crowded trains and buses. It became a necessity in a regional transportation system that was wounded and more vulnerable than many had thought.

Mr. Imperatore, the owner of a New Jersey trucking company who plunged into the ferry business in 1986, was no longer someone to ridicule. Instead, his venture was deemed worthy of support. And so the money poured in: grants and other assistance from local and federal government agencies, prompting and encouraging him to expand his New York Waterway from a company with 24 boats and 12 routes to one with 35 boats and 20 routes.

But New York Waterway is now reporting financial problems, and its executives have turned to regional transportation officials for a different kind of help. Agencies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation are now on the spot to provide money or other help so that service is maintained for the nearly 32,000 people who ride the company's routes every day.

The company's problems are testing the resolve of various government agencies to preserve the role that ferries have carved out for themselves in the regional transportation network. What the agencies do depends not only on their view of the importance of ferry service, but also on their ability to allocate precious transportation dollars for a service that some say still serves only marginal needs at best.

The choice is a tough one for officials who want to support ventures that keep commuters off roads and bridges and out of the tunnels - but not at a cost to other mass transit systems.

New York Waterway's condition has been described by its officials as "a cash flow problem" that has little impact on the company's long-term financial health. Because it is a privately held family business, it is difficult to determine just how severe the financial shortfalls really are.

But interviews and public documents paint a picture of a company with serious problems - serious enough for its owners to ask the Port Authority to find a way to take over some of its routes.

Officials of New York Waterway, the Port Authority and the city Department of Transportation will not publicly discuss their continuing talks.

Some people familiar with New York Waterway say it has management and structural problems. They said it failed to address the high price of fuel and other ballooning costs at a time when the ridership slid substantially from its post-Sept. 11 highs. Critics inside and outside of government, who would speak only on the condition that their names not be published, said the company expanded too rapidly and failed to scale back quickly enough when demand for its service began to wane. The Port Authority is looking at the company's books and the Imperatores' related businesses, including buses, parking, fuel and insurance brokerage.

The company disputes that its troubles are self-inflicted. But officials concede that the arc of its fortunes over the last three years has not been pretty: they have gone from pretax profits of $5.8 million in 2001, when the daily number of passengers was climbing to about 65,000, to a pretax loss of $1.4 million in 2003, as passengers dipped to 32,000 a day.

The economy has not helped. Before Sept. 11, 2001, employment in Manhattan stood at about 2.4 million, with 362,210 of those jobs in businesses located in nine ZIP codes downtown. Mike Dolfman, the regional commissioner of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, said the recession and the attack on the World Trade Center drove the number of jobs down to 2.2 million in 2002. The number went up slightly in 2003, but by the first quarter of 2004 there was a decline of about 86,000 jobs in those nine ZIP codes, to 276,105. The decline there since 2002 has been about 50,000 jobs.

During this time, New York Waterway expanded, partly at the urging of city and Port Authority officials seeking to build confidence among employers that the area would rebound.

The company took advantage of a federal program to provide loan guarantees, lowering interest rates, for boats built in the United States, and ordered five boats from an Alaska shipyard. But as it was negotiating to buy five more, the federal program was suspended. Still, bullish on the future of ferry service and urged on by local officials, the company went ahead with the purchase, although interest rates were 2 percentage points higher on the $10 million order.

Meanwhile, said Pat Smith, a spokesman for the company, its officials were approached by the Port Authority in early 2002 to run round-the-clock ferry service from Hoboken to two Lower Manhattan docks on schedules duplicating the 6- to 10-minute headways of the PATH line, which had stopped serving Lower Manhattan after its station was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack.

At the time, ridership was climbing, reaching 50,000 a day from 33,000 a day. By November 2003, just before the PATH line reopened, it had reached 65,000 a day. The company's revenues climbed from $36 million with pretax profits of $2 million in 2000 to $73.8 million with profits of $6 million in 2002.

Much of this was attributable to reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, routed to the company through the Port Authority, to make up for the cost of the service that was not met by the fares collected. When the PATH reopened, the reimbursement ended, Mr. Smith said.

"Now we pay the city to land boats at Pier 11 at the tip of Manhattan for the same service that the federal government once reimbursed us," Mr. Smith said.

Meanwhile, the company had more than doubled the routes it had before Sept. 11, and had 10 more boats on the water. At the same time, costs were higher, with diesel fuel prices nearly doubling from 88 cents a gallon in 2003 to $1.66 a gallon now.

The company also has had to pay $800,000 to the city for docking fees incurred during the evacuation of 160,000 people after the Sept. 11 attack and the many trips it later provided for workers and National Guard troops. It has also spent $2.5 million to defend itself in federal and state investigations into its handling of some $31 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency money it received for its post-Sept. 11 services. People familiar with New York Waterway's problems say it is clear that the company needs help. Among the solutions being discussed are operating subsidies or the transfer or shutdown of some of its routes.

But there is disagreement over whether a private company should receive government funds to stay in business - and whether the amount of service provided warrants saving.

Carter Craft, program director of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and an advocate for ferry service, said he believes government has to find a way to lend a hand.

"We are a transit-needy area and a transit-dependent area because we are so densely populated," Mr. Craft said. "If the charge of public agencies is to provide public transit, then it makes no sense for them to not subsidize water transport in the way they subsidize roads, trains and buses."

Local governments have already spent tens of millions of dollars on the three private ferry companies - New York Waterway, Sea Streak and New York Water Taxi - to build terminals on both sides of the river. Three New York terminals and one New Jersey terminal are now under construction, with about $250 million worth of public financing. New York Waterway has the contract to operate one of them at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan.

Given that investment, Mr. Craft said, not providing operating aid is like building and maintaining subway stations but not providing any trains.

But others question the importance of ferries altogether, saying they merely shave the margins off the hundreds of thousands who rely on mass transit in the region.

John Pucher, a transportation planner at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, said that riders of three private companies that run ferries on Hudson River routes account for 1 percent of the estimated 7 million mass transit riders a day. (The Staten Island Ferry, which runs between Staten Island and Manhattan, is run by the city and carries as many as 70,000 passengers a day, almost twice the number on the three private Hudson River lines. Passengers ride free.)

Further, the critics argue, because of their higher fares, which range from $6 to $19 a round trip, the private ferry companies serve a small market of well-off suburban commuters.

"It fills an important niche," Mr. Pucher said, "but it is not the way to move a large number of people. I just think that the priority if you have really limited public funds ought to go to rails and buses."

But some officials said one of the realizations after Sept. 11 was just how important it is to build redundancies into the region's transportation network. "To me it is a matter of national security to have viable ferry service available," said one Port Authority official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has not commented on whether he thinks the ferries should get financial assistance, saying only that there is no city money available. Daniel Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and the administration's expert on ferry service, did not return calls for comment. One plan being discussed has New York Waterway's two competitors taking over some of its routes. But Tom Fox, the general manager of New York Water Taxi, said the government is going to have to help.

"You don't take an infant industry and throw it in the bathtub by itself," Mr. Fox said.

City Councilman David Yassky of Manhattan, chairman of the Council's Transportation Committee and a vocal advocate for public support of ferry service, said that helping the companies serves the greater good by taking cars off the roads and pollution out of the air. He said that he was optimistic that public agencies would "do the right thing." Whether it will be in time to help New York Waterway, he said, he could not be sure.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 2nd, 2004, 04:20 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Ferry plan for Williamsburg's new wavers
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004

Call it the death knell for hipster Williamsburg.

Once only accessible by the downtown L train, the neighborhood could soon have a direct link to Wall Street, and, yes, even midtown Manhattan.

New York Water Taxi, a small ferry service with a fleet of yellow catamarans, is looking to build a dock next to a 14-story luxury condo complex going up at the old Schaeffer brewery near the Williamsburg Bridge.

Once known as an enclave for artists, dotted with trendy boutiques and record stores, a glut of new, high-rent housing is now reeling in bankers and advertising executives with a different set of needs.

While some residents welcome the alternative transportation, others are a bit more skeptical.

"It kind of reminds me of New Jersey, the way they have all those ferries," said Dana Doggett, a massage therapist as she waited for the L at Bedford Ave. in the heart of Williamsburg.

The L has been unofficially dubbed the "hipster express" for the route it runs between increasingly trendy Williamsburg and Manhattan's ever-trendy East Village.

But some residents predict the 74-seat water taxis - which offer hot chocolate, cookies and outdoor seating - will be decidedly less hip.

"This will be more like a luxury express," said financial-analyst-turned-jewelry-designer Olia Toporovsky, 26, adding that she might take the ferry on special occasions.

"I would always prefer going over water in a boat than underground like a rat," she said. "Plus the L train can be such a pain because it doesn't run a lot of times."

The ferry is poised to tap into the city's sweeping Williamsburg/Greenpoint development plan, which is expected to create 8,250 more units of housing in those neighborhoods.

New York Water Taxi President Tom Fox says that, pending city approval, the Williamsburg stop should be up and running by the spring.

For now, the boat is only used to ferry in prospective buyers to the pricey Schaeffer Landing building.

The Red Hook-based company currently shuttles 3,000 riders each day to 15 stops citywide. One-way fares range from $4 to $6.

"We see this as a way to connect Williamsburg to the rest of the city," Fox said of the proposed new service.

"To the extent that they want to be connected."

November 2nd, 2004, 09:49 PM
4 to 6 dollars isnt bad, Id rather take the water cab othe rthan the subway, but it may be slow ? :?

November 13th, 2004, 06:28 AM
November 13, 2004

Towns Explore Gaining Control of Troubled Ferry Company


NEWARK, Nov. 12 - Residents of the small New Jersey towns along the Hudson River have come to rely on the ferry service that takes them to Manhattan and back and has drawn many of them to the expensive high-rises that line the coast.

But with the largest ferry company, New York Waterway, now in financial distress, the mayors of some of the river towns have asked a countywide authority to explore the possibility of buying the company.

New York Waterway, which has acknowledged a "cash flow issue," has told the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that it may not be able to maintain service on all its routes. It has been in talks with the authority since last month, and some officials in competing ferry services and government officials on both sides of the Hudson have said privately that the company's problems are more serious and are related to expanding too rapidly after the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

The mayors of Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City, among others, asked the Hudson County Improvement Authority this week to investigate the legal and financial issues involved in acquiring the private company. They also asked the authority's staff to begin the process of getting state approval to issue bonds to finance any purchase.

A spokesman for New York Waterway confirmed that the company is also in talks with the Hudson County Improvement Authority. The spokesman, Pat Smith, said the company "is confident that these discussions will result in continuation of commuter ferry service as a critical transportation link." The Port Authority is also involved in the talks, a spokesman said.

Mayor Richard F. Turner of Weehawken said the mayors had decided to act in the event that the talks between the company and the Port Authority did not resolve the problems.

The improvement authority, which was created by the state and can issue tax-exempt bonds for capital projects, would simply be a financing mechanism for an acquisition of New York Waterway, Mr. Turner said. Each municipality served by the ferries would operate its own route, he said.

Financial analysts have told the mayors that they should be able to cut the company's $45 million-a-year operating budget for the routes serving their communities to as little as $25 million, while keeping service at the same level. "We may end up having more flexibility than either a private company or the Port Authority," Mr. Turner said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 19th, 2004, 07:46 AM
November 19, 2004

Competing Ferry Service Offers to Buy 4 New York Waterway Routes on the Hudson


A competitor of the financially struggling New York Waterway offered yesterday to buy four of the company's routes, serving some 12,000 commuters, and assume the debt on six of Waterway's new boats.

At the same time, talks are continuing between New York Waterway and a group of mayors from New Jersey towns along the Hudson River who are considering taking over some of the routes between their towns and Manhattan.

The offer, by New York Water Taxi, and talks seem to be the surest sign yet that New York Waterway, a pioneer and a model of how private business can address mass transit needs, is facing an end to its dominance of ferry service on the Hudson River. Instead, a mix of private companies, which believe they can make it profitable, and public entities, which believe their towns cannot afford to do without the service, are emerging to fill the threatened gap in service for about 30,000 daily commuters.

A month ago, New York Waterway approached the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for help in solving its financial problems and indicated that it would be willing to turn over some of its routes to the authority, other ferry companies or any other entities willing to provide service. The Port Authority has continued the discussions but not made any commitments to take over any of New York Waterway's business.

One authority official who has been involved in meetings on the issue and who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the agency had kept the discussions going, hoping that in time "private-sector options" would emerge to resolve the problem. He said that in addition to New York Water Taxi there were likely to be other private transportation concerns expressing interest in the weeks to come.

What is taking shape, said a number of industry figures and public officials, is a Hudson River ferry business that would be part publicly run, part privately run and part public-private partnership. No matter what, said New York City Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn, it is inevitable that continuation of operations will involve public money.

Tom Fox, general manager of New York Water Taxi, said company officials had been closely studying Waterway's operations for the last few weeks and eventually concluded that buying the four routes was "a business opportunity that we can make profitable."

Founded by the New York real estate developer Douglas Durst, the company runs several East River ferry routes and Lower Manhattan routes on the Hudson.

Pat Smith, a spokesman for New York Waterway, said that the company would have no comment on the purchase proposal. Of the four routes that Water Taxi proposed buying, two are in Jersey City; one goes to the World Financial Center and the other goes to Pier 11 and Battery Park. The two other routes are both out of Hoboken going to the same destinations.

Mr. Fox said that New York Water Taxi was not seeking the lucrative routes out of Weehawken that go to a West Side pier in Midtown and to Lower Manhattan, in part because it wanted to service routes that connect directly to existing mass transit systems, like the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and New Jersey Transit buses on the New Jersey side and Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway and bus lines in Manhattan.

"These are simpler to run and we don't want to bite off more than we can chew," Mr. Fox said.

Much of New York Waterway's early success was linked to its decision to provide free bus service to and from docking locations on both sides of the river when those locations were not served by existing mass transit. But the service proved as costly as it was necessary, worsening their financial troubles.

Mr. Fox's proposal comes nearly a week after the mayors of Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken proposed the purchase of New York Waterway and its routes as a way of ensuring continuation of services to some of the shoreline's most luxurious residential and office addresses. He insisted that the offer by public agencies had not led to the company's offer after its weeks of silence, but conceded that there was now competition and that that was good.

"We bring private capital to the situation to see if we can operate the routes in a way that minimizes public investment while maximizing public benefit," Mr. Fox said.

The proposal by the Hudson River mayors has run into local opposition. Under the mayor's plan, the Hudson County Improvement Authority, which is studying their plan, would issue bonds to buy New York Waterway routes and equipment. The towns served by the routes would then operate their own services.

But a group of Hoboken City Council members attacked the plan on Thursday as unworkable, saying that the already burdened residents of the city could not afford to take over what was likely to be a deficit-ridden operation. Councilwoman Carol Marsh said that the proper course was for the Port Authority to take over the service.

Councilman Anthony Soares questioned whether Hoboken or other Hudson County governments had the management expertise to be in the ferry business.

"The only thing that I have known the Hudson County Improvement Authority to float is bonds," Mr. Soares said. "I doubt if they could float a ferry business."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

New York Water Taxi Ferries (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=70)

November 19th, 2004, 08:20 AM
One if by land...


I was on a ferry out of WFC yesterday, and there were 5 ferries passing each other within 100 yards. The problem can't be ridership. Debt must be substantial. The Water Taxi seems to be a more nimble operation. It will be interesting to see if they can handle more volume.

The Pier 79 Ferry Terminal (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=152&highlight=ferry+terminal) will be complete soon. A major flaw is that the nearest subway is on 8th Ave.

November 23rd, 2004, 10:47 PM
November 24, 2004

Hudson County Takes First Step to Buy Ailing Ferry Service


JERSEY CITY, NOV. 23 - A proposal by a group of Hudson County mayors to acquire the financially ailing New York Waterway won a first round of approval on Tuesday from the county's Board of Freeholders after a long debate.

The board narrowly agreed to have the Hudson County Improvement Authority begin a detailed analysis of the proposal and start the process of issuing $38 million in bonds to do so.

But the vote was immediately disputed, with opponents threatening to go to court over the way it was conducted. And under state law, the resolution would again have to be approved by the nine-member board in a public session in two weeks to be final.

Debate over the measure lasted nearly two hours, during which new details emerged about how and why New York Waterway, which has dominated the ferry industry, has fallen into financial trouble. Various proposals are now on the table to try to maintain the company's routes, with a rival ferry company, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Hudson County mayors all in talks over possible solutions.

On another front, representatives from Hudson County met late yesterday with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. The ferry service delivers some 30,000 riders a day between New Jersey and Manhattan, serving Midtown and the Financial District.

Critics of the Hudson County plan argued that the proposed purchase of the company and its routes amounted to a bailout of a private company. They also questioned whether a county government could successfully operate an enterprise that experienced business people could not. The plan calls for the improvement authority to raise the money for the purchase and for individual cities to operate the routes that serve their communities.

The opponents, led by Freeholders William O'Dea and Radames Velasquez, both Democrats of Jersey City, also argued that ferry service would not suddenly stop if they did not act.

"The concern I have is the way we are being forced and rushed into things," Mr. O'Dea said. "It should be the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit doing this, and internally they have looked at this and see problems."

Supporters argued that 30,000 or so daily commuters relied on the ferry service, and that it is especially important to residents of some high-priced residential and commercial developments along their shores.

The vote, at first, had four members in favor, three opposed and two abstentions. It needed five votes in favor to pass.

After seeing that the proponents had failed to get a majority, one of the abstaining members, Barry Dugan, a Democrat of Bayonne, sought to change his vote.

After heated exchanges and objections from opponents over the way the measure was reconsidered, Mr. Dugan was allowed to change his vote to support the measure. The board subsequently voted down a motion to provide legal counsel to the opponents so they could challenge the voting procedure in court.

According to the proposal put together by the Hudson County Improvement Authority and presented to the freeholders, New York Waterway has debt of about $53 million, $40 million of which is secured by equipment and routes and $13 million of which is secured by personal guarantees from its owner, Arthur Imperatore. The operation, with 35 boats, 20 routes and 54 buses serving terminals, is losing about $500,000 a week, improvement authority officials said.

The authority, in its analysis, concluded that the company had over expanded after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which brought a great demand for ferry service. It also concluded that New York Waterway was over-leveraged and had failed to cut costs as revenues declined.

The authority alsoconcluded that New York Waterway had failed to anticipate the impact of the reopening of PATH service in 2003. Before that, the company's ferries were logging 65,000 passengers a day. Since then, according to the presentation to the freeholders, the company had been unsuccessful in negotiating cost concessions on things like docking fees.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

November 27th, 2004, 11:48 PM
November 28, 2004


Ferries in a Sea of Red

During the current conflict over funding for the area's commuter trains, buses and subway service, we have pointed out that a good mass transit system requires - and deserves - public subsidy. Let's add ferry service to the equation.

Given the proximity of so much city and suburban land to the water, ferries should be playing a larger role, particularly when it comes to getting people to work. They can take some of the strain off overcrowded roads, subways and railroad lines. Reliable ferry service could also attract development to long-ignored waterfronts from Yonkers to Far Rockaway. New Jersey has seen the future, with residential developments serviced by ferries already bringing in millions in new tax revenue along the Hudson.

But right now, the 32,000 people who depend on ferry service between New Jersey and New York are probably feeling uneasy about their future commuting, since New York Waterway, the private company that runs the Hudson River crossings, is staggering under financial troubles. A county government authority in New Jersey and a competing service, New York Water Taxi, have each expressed interest in taking over the affected routes. Local officials and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should make sure that one way or another, the system stays in operation.

The New York Waterway situation is reminiscent of what happened with the New York City subways, which began a century ago as private businesses until dreams of profits gave way to debt. The city and state stepped in to save the system because New York's future depended on it. The city has arrived at a similar juncture with the ferries. The service has proved itself, in terms of both reliability and need. But the ferries are forced to compete with heavily subsidized mass transit - like the PATH trains, for which 60 percent of the cost of each ride is paid by the government. They cannot attract a large body of customers while charging enough to maintain their service.

Besides the commuters' needs, there is also a security component to be considered. New York Waterway dispatched a rescue flotilla on Sept. 11, evacuating tens of thousands of people from Lower Manhattan. Ferries were again pressed into service during the blackout of August 2003. That alone should be reason to find help for ferry operators. The city could begin by forgoing docking fees, saving the companies about $1.5 million a year, something that City Councilman David Yassky of Brooklyn is proposing.

Beyond that, ferry service is going to require support and coordination on a regional basis. We're disappointed that the Port Authority has not been more active in the New York Waterway issue. The authority was founded to provide better transportation between New York and New Jersey, but on this matter it is dropping the ball. New York City's commitment seems confined to the Staten Island Ferry. Like PATH, that service gets massive subsidies; for passengers who arrive on foot, the trip is free. There is no good reason not to charge something, and use the money as a down payment on a regional ferry system that can stay afloat.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

December 1st, 2004, 02:26 PM
New York Waterway Begins Eliminating Ferry Routes



New York Waterway will begin shutting down some if its ferry routes at the end of this week.

The failing ferry company says service between Newport in Jersey City and Pier 11 in Manhattan will end on Friday. Two more routes will also be eliminated at the end of the month.

New York Waterway is, for the moment, the nation's largest privately-owned ferry company, operating 20 routes in all. But it says it's losing millions and could soon go out of business completely.

The ferry line blames high fuel prices and low ridership for its financial woes. Ferry ridership jumped after the September 11, 2001, attacks, but fell after PATH service to Lower Manhattan resumed a year ago.

New York Waterway currently provides over 30,000 rides a day.

TLOZ Link5
December 1st, 2004, 03:31 PM
Any word of whether Seastreak or NY Water Taxi will take over those routes?

December 7th, 2004, 12:35 AM
December 7, 2004

Port Authority Urged to Help Troubled Ferry Operator


With the dominant operator of ferries across the Hudson River foundering financially, officials on both banks are pressing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to step up with a plan to preserve the service.

Two members of the New York City Council called yesterday for the Port Authority to start providing a $16.6 million annual subsidy that would reduce the average fare by more than 25 percent. They also proposed that the city waive the fees it charges the ferry operators to use city docks.

David Yassky, chairman of the Council's waterfronts committee, said the Port Authority should absorb some of the cost of providing ferries for commuters because both the city and New Jersey benefit from the service. "Ferries need the same help that the Port Authority provides for PATH train users and that the city provides to bus users," Mr. Yassky said.

He and John Liu, chairman of the Council's transportation committee, said the Port Authority could take some of the money it makes from operating the city's two airports and put it toward a ferry subsidy. The goal, they said, is to attract riders by reducing the average ticket price to $5 from $7.

The councilmen's proposal came as local officials in Hudson County, N.J., debated whether to bail out the owners of New York Waterway, which operates ferries from several ports in New Jersey to Midtown and Lower Manhattan. New York Waterway has warned that it could run out of money by mid-January.

The Hudson County Improvement Authority is considering borrowing $38 million to pay off the company's debts and assume oversight of its ferry service. But some county freeholders oppose a bailout that does not involve the Port Authority.

Bill O'Dea, a freeholder from Jersey City who voted against the plan, said the Port Authority should either subsidize some of the ferry lines or guarantee the bonds the county would issue.

The Port Authority, whose board is appointed by the governors of New York and New Jersey, said in a statement that it considered ferry service an integral part of the region's transportation network but that it was not ready to commit to any financial help beyond the money it was spending to build terminals. It also said it supported "a multiagency review of ferry service throughout the region."

As for waving the docking fees, Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation, said, "If the Council can tell us how to compensate for the loss of revenue, then we'd be receptive to any of these kinds of suggestions."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

December 8th, 2004, 02:29 PM
Ferry Operator Plans Additional Cuts in Service

NY Times

Published: December 8, 2004

New York Waterway, the financially troubled ferry operator, plans to stop providing weekend service between Lower Manhattan and Hoboken, N.J., before the end of the year, a company spokesman said yesterday.

After Dec. 26, the privately held ferry company will no longer run a weekend loop from the dock next to the train station in Hoboken to Newport Pier in Jersey City and the World Financial Center in Manhattan, said the spokesman, Pat Smith. The company's ferries have been making that run every half hour from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

That cutback is just one of several that New York Waterway is planning as it struggles to survive. The ferry operator, based in Weehawken, N.J., has told local officials that it is deeply in debt and, unless it receives financial assistance from a government agency, it may be forced to shut down completely by mid-January.

Last week, the ferry company ended service between Newport Pier and Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. It also said then that beginning Dec. 31 it would no longer run ferries between Pier 11 and Hoboken, and between Pier 11 and the Port Liberté housing development in Jersey City.

In the latest round of changes, the company plans to stop running ferries between Hoboken, Jersey City and Lower Manhattan after 10 p.m. on weeknights, cutting out the 10:30 and 11 p.m. runs starting on Monday, Mr. Smith said.

Beginning on Jan. 3, it also will eliminate some routes for buses that take passengers to and from the ferry landing in Weehawken, he said.

Mr. Smith said the cutbacks would not affect the schedule of weekend service between Hoboken and the dock at West 38th Street in Midtown Manhattan, which he said was more popular than the weekend service to the World Financial Center. Last Saturday, only 213 passengers traveled the downtown loop, he said, compared to more than 700 on the Midtown run.

December 11th, 2004, 12:13 AM
December 11, 2004

Group to Offer Proposal to Take Over Hudson Ferries


With New York Waterway warning of an imminent financial collapse, a group of the company's competitors drew up a plan yesterday to take over almost all of its ferry service along the Hudson River.

Four companies that operate ferry boats and sightseeing cruises around New York Harbor sketched out how they could team up to serve most of the 32,000 passengers who ride the ferries each weekday, most of whom use New York Waterway.

They intend to present the plan, which would require the cooperation of government agencies and the owners and creditors of New York Waterway, to local and state officials early next week, said Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi.

Receiving all that help and coordinating the operation of all of the ferries, terminals and buses that New York Waterway runs would be tricky, said Richard Turner, the mayor of Weehawken, the ferry company's home port. But he said he and other local officials would welcome any serious effort to keep the ferries running.

"I think that by the end of the day Monday, the industry would have a plan to keep all of this thing going," Mr. Fox said. He said he had been holding talks with the operators of the two Circle Line cruises and SeaStreak America, which runs ferries from the central New Jersey coast to Manhattan.

Mr. Fox said the group believed that it could keep all of the main routes running without raising fares if the owners of the various terminals and docks along the river would forgo the fees they have been collecting from New York Waterway. They also would need to negotiate an arrangement with J. P. Morgan Chase, the bank that loaned New York Waterway about $20 million to buy boats.

New York Waterway is in default on that debt and, unable to secure additional financing, it is quickly running out of cash. Its president, Arthur Imperatore Jr., son of the trucking magnate who started the ferry service 16 years ago, said on Thursday that the company could shut down "any day now."

Government officials on both sides of the Hudson have said that the ferries, which thousands of people used to leave Manhattan on Sept. 11 and again in the blackout of 2003, are a critical link in the region's transportation network. But no agency has come up with a viable plan to rescue the service. And the Port Authority has refused to reduce fees it charges New York Waterway.

The best hope was a proposal hatched in Hudson County that called for the county's improvement authority to sell bonds, use the proceeds to pay off some of New York Waterway's debt and take over the ferry system. But that idea ran aground when state officials said it would require approval by each of the three New Jersey municipalities served by the ferries: Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken.

When county officials abandoned their plan, Mr. Fox and his fellow boat operators began discussing a concerted effort to maintain as much of New York Waterway's system as possible.

Mr. Fox said each of the operators had agreed to take over one or more of the routes. His company would help to manage the dock at World Financial Center, which New York Waterway had been running, and would provide service to it and to Pier 11 from Hoboken and Jersey City. The Circle Line companies would provide service from Weehawken to West 38th Street in Manhattan, the World Financial center and Pier 11, which is near the South Street Seaport.

New York Waterway, which ran 20 different routes around the harbor, has been gradually cutting back its operations, eliminating some lines and preparing to shut down weekend service from Hoboken to lower Manhattan.

Mr. Imperatore had warned employees that they might be out of jobs by mid-January. But when he appeared at a New York City Council committee hearing on Thursday, he painted a bleaker picture, saying that "New York Waterway is dying" and might not survive next week.

Pat Smith, a spokesman for New York Waterway, said he was unaware of the competitors' plan, but added that "if it was a real, viable alternative," Waterway officials would cooperate.

"All things can be worked out," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

December 15th, 2004, 06:04 AM
December 15, 2004

Few Rescuers Are Heeding Ferry Service's S O S Call


Arthur Imperatore Jr. sent out an S O S to government officials last week hoping that they would rescue his financially swamped ferry company, New York Waterway. But, along the Hudson River waterfront, the response to that distress call has been muted.

Among the most significant obstacles to keeping the ferries running into the new year is Mr. Imperatore himself. Though his father started the ferry service in 1986 and is widely regarded as politically powerful, Mr. Imperatore and his company's plight have drawn little sympathy from elected officials or other boat operators.

Some of them say that a government-led solution to the ferry quandary would come more swiftly if the Imperatores were not the ones in need. As valuable as the ferries have proved in times of crisis, few government officials want to be seen bailing out a wealthy family whose business practices have been questioned.

For nearly two years, New York Waterway has been the subject of federal and state investigations into subsidies it received to expand its service after Sept. 11. Mr. Imperatore cited the $4 million he said the company has spent defending itself as a factor that contributed to its financial troubles.

Other boat operators have complained about what they have called New York Waterway's hard-headed business tactics as the company came to dominate ferry service between New Jersey and Manhattan. Mr. Imperatore admitted last week that the company had expanded too fast and paid too much to control some routes.

Now, he and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are in a waiting game, with about 30,000 passengers involved. Officials in Hudson County in New Jersey recently took action to save the company, but their plan to pay off New York Waterway's bank loan and take over the operation stalled late last week.

The company also looked to the Port Authority for help. But so far that agency's executives are staring down the Imperatores, promising only that the failure of New York Waterway would not cause a long disruption of commuter service.

At the moment, New Jersey Transit can offer little help. Although the agency is building a new ferry terminal in Weehawken, N.J., adjacent to New York Waterway's home base, its charter does not allow it to operate ferries, only buses and trains.

New Jersey's transportation commissioner, Jack Lettiere, said he was hoping to prevent any disruption, but he did not rule out the possibility of a bankruptcy filing by New York Waterway.

"You could have a structured bankruptcy where there is no shutdown," Mr. Lettiere said in a phone interview.

Indeed, a detour through bankruptcy court appears more likely with each passing day. Mr. Imperatore said his family had lost all of its equity in the business, so they would have little to lose but their legacy if the company were carved up by lawyers and bankers.

The most important assets are the boats, many of which were built to run back and forth between docks along the Hudson. The company's bank, J. P. Morgan Chase, could claim some of those boats any day because New York Waterway is in default on its debt of about $20 million. Unless someone steps forward within the next week or two with an offer to pay off the bank loan, Chase and the company's financial advisers will probably have to arrange a piecemeal sale of its operations.

A group of competing ferry services and other boat operators recently drafted a plan to replace most of New York Waterway's service if the company should fail. They had intended to present it to officials of the Port Authority and other government agencies, but they have now decided it would not work without government intervention, said Tom Fox, the president of New York Water Taxi.

New York Waterway's system is too complex to run without a coordinating agency and some financial assistance, Mr. Fox said. New York Waterway operates shuttle buses in New Jersey and Manhattan, and one of its affiliates owns the main parking lot at the Weehawken terminal.

"It was just too big for us to get our arms around," Mr. Fox said. Nonetheless, they are still interested in taking over some of New York Waterway's routes, especially if they can get their hands on some of its boats at bargain prices.

In the meantime, the mayors of Weehawken and Hoboken, N.J., are sweating out the prospect of a shutdown of a service that many of their constituents have come to depend on.

"It's like a hostage situation," said David Roberts, the mayor of Hoboken, who had supported a publicly financed takeover of New York Waterway.

Mr. Roberts said he did not have an interest in the survival of New York Waterway, but he did not want to lose the ferry service that had lured businesses and spurred luxury development along the entire waterfront of his city.

"Everyone agrees that ferry service should be ongoing and not discontinued and held to a price that's reasonable," Mr. Roberts said. "There's universal bipartisan support for that, but there are few people willing to roll their sleeves up and put a plan together to make sure that it happens.

"Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

December 15th, 2004, 06:08 AM
Should Public Funds Keep NY Waterway Alive? (http://gothamgazette.com/article/transportation/20041215/16/1215)

December 21st, 2004, 11:50 PM
December 22, 2004

Lawyer Is Said to Offer Plan to Preserve Ferry Service


A Manhattan lawyer is trying to work out an agreement with the Imperatore family to help save the Hudson River ferry service operated by the family's financially troubled company, New York Waterway, people close to the talks said yesterday.

The lawyer, William B. Wachtel, a partner in the law firm of Wachtel & Masyr, has devised a tentative plan to take over about half of New York Waterway's commuter service, which serves about 30,000 riders a day, these people said. The plan would require the approval and cooperation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the federal Maritime Administration and New York Waterway's bank, J. P. Morgan Chase.

The president of New York Waterway, Arthur Imperatore Jr., has been seeking help from government officials to stave off a collapse of the company, which was founded by his father in 1986. Mr. Imperatore said this month that the company was sinking under debt and might run out of cash any day.

In recent days, no government agency has shown an interest in bailing out the Imperatores' operation, though Port Authority officials have assured commuters that ferry service would continue. But this week, Mr. Wachtel offered to work out a plan with the family that would allow it to continue operating some of the service, while Mr. Wachtel and the unidentified entity he represents would handle the rest.

Mr. Wachtel, 50, declined to comment yesterday.

In private conversations, government officials on both sides of the river described the tentative agreement as at least a temporary patch to ensure that service would not be disrupted within the next month.

Pat Smith, a spokesman for New York Waterway, said that "there are complex negotiations under way to save the commuter ferry system. These negotiations are not helped by talking about them at this time."

A Port Authority spokesman, Steve Coleman, said his agency had not signed off on any agreement.

"We're continuing to talk to private operators," Mr. Coleman said. "We're working toward making sure there is no disruption."

But, Mr. Coleman added, "I would tell you as strongly as I can that there is no deal that's been approved by the Port Authority." Any discussion of one is "extremely premature," he said.

The Port Authority controls one of the key routes across the Hudson, between Lower Manhattan and the New Jersey Transit train station on the southern edge of Hoboken. New York Waterway pays the Port Authority $50,000 a month to operate that route.

Under Mr. Wachtel's plan, he would assume operation of ferries to Lower Manhattan from the main Hoboken dock and docks in Jersey City, the people close to the talks said. Doing so would require the use of about a dozen ferries owned by New York Waterway but pledged as collateral on bank loans. The Imperatores would continue to run ferries to West 38th Street from their home base in Weehawken and from the north end of Hoboken, these people said.

Mr. Wachtel, 50, was a late arrival on the scene. His law firm has represented major land developers in the area, but he has been involved in the ferry business only tangentially. He was involved with Wings Point Associates, a group that was redeveloping Pier A near Battery Park before the Sept. 11 attack.

But after the attack on the World Trade Center destroyed PATH train service to Jersey City, the City of New York seized control of the pier and cleared New York Waterway to land ferries at a floating dock that was moored to it.

Tom Ickovic, a partner with Mr. Wachtel in Wings Point Associates, said his group, which plans to make Pier A a gateway for tourists, sued New York Waterway last year to obtain landing fees for the ferry's use of the pier. New York Waterway agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve that suit, but has not yet paid, Mr. Ickovic said last night.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 15th, 2005, 08:31 AM
The Jersey Journal


NYC lawyer to take over Hoboken, Jersey City routes from NY Waterway
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 By Bonnie Friedman
Journal staff writer

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a private investor have reached a tentative agreement to ensure continued ferry service from Hudson County to New York, according to a statement released by the Port Authority.

Under the terms of the agreement - which is subject to the approval of the federal Maritime Administration and the board of commissioners of the Port Authority - NY Waterway will turn over ferry routes from Hoboken and Jersey City to BillyBey Ferry Company LLC, which is owned by New York City attorney William B. Wachtel.

The contract will remain in effect until 2009, with an option to extend it for an additional five years.

In turn, BillyBey will assume $19.1 million in federal maritime loans for 16 boats that will operate between Hoboken and Jersey City.

NY Waterway will continue to own and operate routes in Weehawken, as well as in Belford and Haverstraw, N.Y.

In a separate agreement, Weehawken-based NY Waterway will provide personnel and continue to manage and operate the Hoboken and Jersey City lines.

Last year, NY Waterway closed its route between Newport in Jersey City and Pier 11 in Manhattan and threatened to close routes from Port Liberte and Hoboken Terminal to Pier 11.

The Port Liberte and Hoboken routes will continue to operate, though the Newport route will not be restored, officials said.

The private operator can only raise fares on the Hoboken routes by 50 cents per one-way trip per year. There are no limits on the Jersey City fares, officials said.

BillyBey is also planning to add an additional route - from Hoboken to Pier A in Lower Manhattan, officials said.

The Port Authority has also agreed to waive the $50,000-a-month fee it charges to dock at Hoboken Terminal.

In lieu of that fee, the Port Authority will collect a 10-cents-per-passenger fee for Hoboken departures, a share of receipts from advertising and concession services, and fees from other operators that use the docks at Battery Park City and at 14th Street in Hoboken.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, estimated the per-passenger fees would bring in $10,750 a month, adding that projections for advertising, concession and the others fees were not available.

The figure will increase to 15 cents per passenger if the deal is extended for an additional five years, Coleman added.

Officials acknowledged that the revised formula likely will generate less than half of what the agency had been collecting from NY Waterway.

The fee had been one of the factors that put NY Waterway's busy Hoboken routes in the red, officials said.

Acting Gov. Richard Codey and officials at the Port Authority praised the deal, which will preserve ferry service for the estimated 15,000 daily riders.

"As our roads and rails become more congested, ferry service has provided an alternative for thousands of New Jersey residents to get to and from Manhattan," Codey said in a written statement.

"I applaud the hard work and perseverance of our Hudson County elected officials, as well as the Port Authority staff, for making sure that service on this vitally important transportation mode is not interrupted."

Not everyone is thrilled about the agreement between Wachtel and the Port Authority.

"This is scandalous," said Deborah Jack, one of the founders of Ferry Friends, an activist group. "This sounds like they're getting into business with a private operator."

Jack questioned the wisdom of the revised payment formula.

"If the concessions and the advertising revenues were so great to begin with, then NY Waterway wouldn't be in the jam that it's in," she said. "Somehow Wachtel has gotten a great deal for himself. Waterway gets to keep its ferries running. But what about the passengers? Who's watching out for us?"

Wachtel, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, provided a written comment through the Port Authority.

"We are pleased to be part of this private sector solution that is being facilitated by the Port Authority and officials of New York and New Jersey," he said. "The ferry system has grown to become an important, environmentally sensitive part of the region's transportation system."

Jim McQueeny, a spokesman for Wachtel, refused to provide additional information about his client or the deal, except to say that the name of the company -BillyBey - is an honorific title used in Turkey.

"The term conveys his winsome recollection of his love of ferries in that area," said McQueeny, adding that Wachtel plans to disclose more about his plans in the coming weeks.

News of the agreement came on the same day the Assembly Transportation Committee met at the West New York Middle School and unanimously authorized NJ Transit to take over the ferry system if a private operator was unable to maintain adequate service.

The bill, sponsored by Speaker Albio Sires, the mayor of West New York, is largely a last resort option, and many who testified spoke about the need for a more permanent solution.

George Warrington, executive director of NJ Transit, noted the importance ferry service played on Sept. 11, 2001 and during the August 2003 blackout.

"Ferry service emerged as an important safety net and relief valve," Warrington said. "We worked to create a backup plan that calls for the commandeering of maritime vessels to be used for evacuation."

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts and Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, who had proposed a plan for the Hudson County Improvement Authority to buy the ferry system, also testified at yesterday's hearing.

After hearing about the agreement, Turner said the passage of the Assembly bill is even more apropos.

"We always have to have a concern," Turner said. "When you look down the road, and if something indeed happens, if oil prices go up, if it proves not to be successful, with all the variables, we are setting the stage for some government action, if it's needed, but we are still giving the private sector as much chance to succeed as possible."

Newhouse News Service contributed to this report.

February 15th, 2005, 10:14 AM
February 15, 2005

Port Authority Picks Lawyer to Run Ferries on Hudson


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/t.gifhe Port Authority of New York and New Jersey put a name and a price yesterday on its plan to preserve commuter ferry service across the Hudson River.

Saying that it had averted the prospect of a shutdown of most of the ferries that run between New Jersey and New York City, the Port Authority announced that it had reached a tentative agreement with a new company, BillyBey Ferry Company L.L.C., that would take over about half of the operations of New York Waterway, which has been floundering. BillyBey is owned by William B. Wachtel, a partner in a Manhattan law firm.

In exchange for agreeing to maintain service from docks in Hoboken and Jersey City, BillyBey will get a break on a fee that New York Waterway could not afford. The Port Authority has been charging the company, which is owned by Arthur Imperatore and his family, $50,000 a month to carry commuters between Hoboken and Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.

That expense and a pile of debt New York Waterway took on to buy boats left the company struggling to avoid bankruptcy. Late last year, its owners said it might not survive beyond mid-January.

Then, Mr. Wachtel appeared, offering to pay off $19.1 million the company owes to the Federal Maritime Administration on 16 boats. Mr. Wachtel has never operated a ferry company or anything similar, but he does control a group that is redeveloping Pier A near Battery Park.

After weeks of negotiations, the Port Authority agreed to restructure the lease it gave New York Waterway in Hoboken. Under terms of the tentative agreement, Mr. Wachtel's company would pay the Port Authority 10 cents for every passenger departing from Hoboken, and an undisclosed share of revenue from advertising and concessions and any fees it collects from other ferry operators that land at Hoboken or the World Financial Center.

A Port Authority spokesman said the agency estimated the passenger fees would amount to $10,750 a month. Several people who have been briefed on the contract said they expected that the Port Authority would receive less than half as much as New York Waterway had been paying.

Charles A. Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority, said the new deal was struck to ensure that there would be no disruption in service. "If someone was willing to come in and take over some of the routes and keep the Waterway service going, we felt that that was the best solution at this time."

Indeed, Mr. Wachtel plans to hire Mr. Imperatore's company to operate and maintain his boats. New York Waterway will also continue to operate ferries from its base in Weehawken. Mr. Wachtel declined to comment, but people who have been briefed on his plan said that passengers might not even notice the changeover because Mr. Wachtel does not intend to change the logo.

"Bill Wachtel is no Donald Trump," said Jim McQueeny, a spokesman. "He's a very practical man who's dealing with a transportation system he loves. He's had a fascination with boats and ferries since he was a little kid shuttling to Fire Island."

The agreement still requires the blessing of officials at the maritime administration and the approval of the Port Authority's board, which is scheduled to vote on it next week.

But operators of other ferry and sightseeing services in New York harbor already were objecting to the deal yesterday, arguing that the Port Authority should seek bids on the Hoboken route.

Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, said his company "has been ready, willing and able to take over the operation of these routes." He said his company, which operates ferries across the Hudson and the East River, responded to requests from the Port Authority and New York Waterway to take over the routes but received no response.

J. B. Meyer, president of Circle Line Harbor Cruises, said his company had bid for the Hoboken service when New York Waterway's troubles became known and would like another shot at it.

"Given that there appear to be material changes in this contract, we question why everybody else wasn't given a chance to look at this proposal," Mr. Meyer said.

Marian Raab, a ferry commuter from Maplewood, N.J., who has been an advocate for other riders, also expressed concern about the deal.

"Who is this guy Wachtel and what are his qualifications to run a major ferry link transporting tens of thousands of commuters every day?" she asked.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 26th, 2005, 09:46 AM
February 26, 2005

Assemblyman Opens Inquiry Into New Plan for Ferry Service


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/f.gifresh from pressuring transit officials to seek bids for the proposed stadium site on the West Side, Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky began an inquiry yesterday into a plan to preserve commuter ferry service across the Hudson River.

Mr. Brodsky, a Democrat from Westchester County and the chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions in the State Assembly, asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explain how it had reassigned a contract for ferries between Lower Manhattan and Hudson County in New Jersey. On Thursday, with no bidding or public discussion, the Port Authority's board of commissioners approved the transfer to a new company run by William B. Wachtel, a Manhattan lawyer.

Mr. Wachtel had agreed to take over about half of the operations of New York Waterway, the longtime ferry operator that ran into financial trouble last year.

Mr. Wachtel's company, BillyBey Ferry Company, would assume responsibility for maintaining the Port Authority's terminals in Hoboken and at Battery Park City and would take on the rest of a six-year contract to run boats between the Hoboken terminal and Pier 11 near the South Street Seaport.

New York Waterway won that contract in November 2003 by offering to pay the Port Authority at least $50,000 a month. The Port Authority said on Thursday that it would receive only about one-third as much under its revised arrangement with Mr. Wachtel.

The deal has angered other ferry operators who had offered to take over different parts of New York Waterway's operation when the company warned late last year that it might not survive past mid-January. Those competitors also suspect that Mr. Wachtel, who plans few changes to the service he is taking over, is simply helping New York Waterway wriggle out of an onerous contract.

"The service will continue to be called New York Waterway, operated and managed by New York Waterway," said Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, another ferry operator. "What's changed except the length and term of their contract?" Mr. Wachtel has declined to comment.

Mr. Brodsky, who is running to succeed Eliot Spitzer as attorney general, declined to say whether the other ferry operators had sought his help.

"The question is whether this restructuring amounted to essentially a new bidding process," Mr. Brodsky said. "At what point does a restructuring become a refusal to go to bid?"

Mr. Brodsky said he did not know enough of the details to comment on the Port Authority's procedures in this case. But, he added, "bad contracts historically have come from bad processes."

Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman , said, "When the assemblyman learns all of the facts, he will see that this is a good deal for the 15,000 New Jersey and New York residents who use the ferry each weekday." He added that "the agreement with BillyBey Ferry Company was the only way to ensure that there would be no interruption of service on any of the existing trans-Hudson routes between Hoboken, Jersey City and Manhattan."

Mr. Brodsky recently helped to derail a plan under which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would have sold its development rights for the West Side railyards to the New York Jets for a new stadium without seeking other offers.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 2nd, 2005, 11:01 AM
May 01, 2005

NY Water Taxi to Staten Island

Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island signed a deal with New York Water Taxi, which will begin offering roundtrip service on June 12.

New York Water Taxi will initially provide one roundtrip on Sundays, leaving from and returning to Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport.


May 22nd, 2005, 12:28 AM
New York Water Taxi (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm) boat with the view of downtown Manhattan. May 2005.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi_manhattan.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/water_taxi.htm)

May 22nd, 2005, 10:39 AM
Greeaaattt Pic!

July 28th, 2005, 02:33 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

You'd love to get to the beach, but you can't find the time to trek all the way out to Long Island, the Rockaways or even Orchard Beach or Coney Island. Why not try Long Island City?
It's not well known, but more than 400 tons of pristine sand, a bar that serves tropical drinks and volleyball are all just a short ferry ride across the East River from Manhattan at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City. The beach, which opened last Friday, is free to the public.

"We work so much that we can't even get to Coney Island," said Mara Evans, 29, who visited the beach opening day with her boyfriend, Jonas Elrod, 33. "We came out to spend some time together on the waterfront."

Situated at the foot of Borden Ave. next to the Hunters Point ferry dock, the beach offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, and provides such amenities as picnic tables, beach umbrellas and a snack shop - Harry's at Water Taxi Beach.

For their part, beachgoers are free to bring their own beach chairs, towels, blankets and sunscreen.

"Beer's a dollar, that's great," said Evans who rode four minutes by ferry from the 33rd St. pier.

New York Water Taxi President Tom Fox said he thought having a beach next to the ferry dock might lure more riders to the ferry service. New York Water Taxi has a temporary use lease with the Port Authority for the one-third acre lot on which the beach sits.

"We wanted to see if we could make the weekend work in Queens because we really don't get a lot of weekend traffic in Queens," said Fox, former president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy. "We figured since there is no action, we can create the action."

Water Taxi Beach will be open Fridays from 4 p.m. to midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to midnight, through Labor Day.

Later this summer, possible added attractions - live bands and/or theater performances - may play at the wharf, where the temperature is usually 10 degrees cooler.

"This is part of a trend for reclaiming the waterfront for recreational space," said visitor Zak Van Buren, 27, of Red Hook. "This is just another easy way to get down to the waterfront and to enjoy the water."

Ferries from midtown Manhattan to Hunters Point run every 40 minutes, with the fare $4 each way. A two-day pass for $20 gets riders a free treat at Harry's when they arrive at the beach each day.

Parking is available, and the beach is accessible by bus, Long Island Rail Road and the Long Island Expressway.

For information, visit www.watertaxibeach.com. Ferry ride tickets may be purchased on-line at www.nywatertaxi.com.

August 1st, 2005, 11:53 AM
July 31, 2005

On the Beach, Courtesy of New Jersey

As the 4 p.m. sun ducked behind an accommodating cloud last weekend, two shirtless men of considerable girth discovered they were neighbors. Sipping frothy beverages with their feet tucked into the sand, the neighbors, from Woodside, Queens, reflected on their good fortune.

They had discovered a beach on the East River.

"Ain't like taking the 53 bus to Rockaway," said the older of the two men, a deeply tanned fellow with white-gray hair fashioned into a buzz cut. "You can get here from Grand Central in one stop."

The beach the men were enjoying is composed of 400 tons of sand trucked in from New Jersey. Placed on a wharf in Long Island City, it is operated by New York Water Taxi and sits on land two steps north of the company's dock off Second Street at Borden Avenue. The Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue stop on the No. 7 line is four blocks away. The beach offers beer, cocktails, grilled food, low-key music and a commanding view of Midtown.

In operation only on weekends, Water Taxi Beach opened two weeks ago, to much news media fanfare, but with the television cameras gone, the new beach has settled into its natural rhythms. Visitors lie in the sun, sip $1 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and wolf down hot dogs and burgers prepared by Harry Hawk, the man behind Schnack restaurant on Union Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

"This is the kind of stuff that brings people to the waterfront," said Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi and founder of the Neighborhood Open Space Coalition. "And once they're on the waterfront, they get invested and it becomes their waterfront." Many of the beach patrons are Water Taxi customers, but the beach is free and open to the public.

Apart from food and drink, Water Taxi Beach has few amenities, though patrons don't seem to mind. They lounge at picnic tables or on towels and blankets, and children run about with the beach's sand shovels and buckets. In the late afternoon, a volleyball net is flung up, and Bob Marley and the Police blare from speakers wedged into the sand.

There is no swimming, because a fence blocks beachgoers from the water's edge. But all parties agree that bathing in the East River is probably not the best idea. "You'd have to be a very strong swimmer," Mr. Hawk said. The swimless beach can get hot, but there is a river breeze, and Mr. Fox said there were plans to obtain a misting machine.

Lee-Ann Hanham and Brian Fabella, an engaged couple from Queens who were sipping beers at a picnic table last weekend, like the place so much that they may have their wedding pictures taken there. "You walk through the gate, you see sand," Ms. Hanham said, "and you're like, 'Whoa!' "

August 18th, 2005, 11:31 PM
New York Waterway ferry (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/ny_waterway.htm) crossing Hudson River at sunset, with skyscrapers of Manhattan.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/ny_waterway.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/ny_waterway.htm)

August 18th, 2005, 11:57 PM
Is that from a copter?

August 19th, 2005, 01:40 AM
No, from the cliffs of Weehawken

August 19th, 2005, 11:32 AM
No, from the cliffs of Weehawken

NICE. A picture like that puts Manhattan's massive size into perspective.

October 13th, 2005, 04:00 PM

October 13, 2005
Make Way for Ducks, in Manhattan?

Visitors to Midtown Manhattan can get around by almost any conceivable mode of transportation. There are pedicabs, double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles built for seven.

But there are no ducks, not yet, anyway.

Unlike Boston, Philadelphia, London and dozens of other cities around the world, New York City does not offer tourists the pleasure of paying around $25 to cruise the streets in an amphibious bus, known as a duck, that ends its journey by splashing into the nearest body of water. Manhattan is lacking a crucial ingredient in the recipe for ducks: it has no boat ramps within five miles of Times Square.

New York Waterway, the biggest operator of commuter ferries between the city and New Jersey, hopes to fix that deficiency by building a ramp at Pier 78, at the west end of 38th Street, to accommodate a fleet of buses that float. But first the ferry company has to deal with criticism from competitors and community groups that oppose adding to the cacophony of western Midtown.

The local community board has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing on the duck ramp before deciding whether to approve it, said John Doswell, co-chairman of the waterfront and parks committee of the board, Manhattan Community Board No. 4.

"Right from the get-go, the concern the board had was yet more traffic in an area we feel has got way too much traffic already," Mr. Doswell said. As for being invaded by ducks, he said, "It all sounds a little strange, but I guess they figure people will pay money for this experience."

Indeed, people probably will. Each year, more than one million of them ride the vehicles, encouraged by guides to quack like ducks or blow kazoos as they bounce and bob along.

A few entrepreneurs have been studying ways to launch the ducks in Manhattan, and one startup, Big Apple Ducks, is considering hauling tourists from Lower Manhattan to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to plunge into the harbor. Carrie McIndoe, the president of Big Apple Ducks, said the company had bought three amphibious vehicles, called TrolleyBoats, that it hopes to start operating in Manhattan and Brooklyn by the spring.

But Gray Line, which runs dozens of open-top sightseeing buses all over the city, is trying to head off Big Apple Ducks by forming a partnership with New York Waterway. The Imperatore family, which controls the ferry company, would own and operate the ducks, while Gray Line would handle sales and marketing of the tours, said Tom Lewis, president of Gray Line New York.

The Imperatores have ordered eight amphibious buses that could navigate the clogged streets of Manhattan, then roll down the ramp for a quick float in the tricky currents of the Hudson River. Some duck operators use reconditioned military troop carriers that were nicknamed ducks during World War II. (Those boats have had several accidents, and one sank in Arkansas six years ago, killing 13 people.)

The New York Waterway group is planning to buy a modern model, known as a Hydra-Terra, that is manufactured near Rochester, holds 45 passengers and costs about $200,000.

Since May, two of them have been rolling into the Hudson in Albany, one of the latest entrants in the duck-tour derby. Bob Wolfgang, the president of Albany Aqua Ducks, said the Coast Guard would not allow a restored military duck to operate in the Hudson because its tides and currents are too strong.

He said the Hydra-Terra's have been "very reliable" and operated without incident on the 75-minute tours, for which he charges adults $22 and children $12. He said he sent one of his ducks down to Weehawken, N.J., in the summer so that New York Waterway officials could kick its tires and spin its 26-inch propeller.

The Corps has not decided whether to hold a public hearing on the duck ramp plan, said Richard Tomer, chief of its regulatory branch in New York. He said last week that the company had not told him where the ducks would go once they entered the river or exactly what kind of vehicles they would be. Their seaworthiness, he said, would be left to the Coast Guard to judge.

The ducks might also require approval by the city. The plan for duck tours in Manhattan is just one of the projects the Imperatores have in the works to reverse their fortunes. Their ferry company was on the verge of bankruptcy at the end of 2004, and averted failure only by selling half its fleet to a company controlled by William B. Wachtel, a lawyer and leading fund-raiser for Fernando Ferrer's mayoral campaign.

New York Waterway continues to manage both halves of the ferry operation and is seeking to expand by adding routes up and down the Hudson. It is also is seeking permission from the Army Corps to land commuter ferries at Pier A, a 120-year-old structure controlled by Mr. Wachtel that juts into the Hudson River at the north end of Battery Park.

Donald J. Liloia, the chief operating officer of New York Waterway, said he believed that as many as 1,000 people would ride ferries daily between docks in Hudson County, N.J., and Pier A. Most of those passengers, he said, are now crossing under the river on PATH trains to the rebuilt World Trade Center station.

The number of riders has been increasing lately, as high gasoline prices have spurred some commuters to drive less, but the number of passengers so far this year still trails behind last year's, Mr. Liloia said. He said he hoped to attract new riders when the city opens the West Midtown Ferry Terminal, the glass-walled structure it has built at the west end of 39th Street. The terminal is scheduled to open later this year.

New York Waterway, which raised fares last week on trips to and from its West 38th Street terminal by 25 cents, will need more help from the government or new sources of revenue to turn a profit, Mr. Liloia said.

But in addition to the community groups and competitors standing in the way of its ambitious plans, the National Park Service and city officials have joined a chorus of complaints about the Pier A proposal.

In a letter to the Army Corps, Cynthia Garrett, who supervises the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for the Park Service, expressed concern about the effect a ferry dock would have on the operation of boats that take visitors to the statue. Joanne G. Imohiosen, an assistant commissioner of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, called the plan unacceptable. New York Waterway's ferry operation, she said, would "intrude over the property line of Battery Park."

Mr. Tomer, of the Army Corps, said he planned to bounce the Pier A proposal, along with the duck ramp plan, back to the company this week in the hope that it can assuage some of its critics.

Getting one's ducks in a row, he said, "is generally speaking a good thing for applicants to do before they submit plans to us."

November 17th, 2005, 11:05 AM
Ferry Business Is Suffering Even as New Terminals Open

Published: November 17, 2005

A visitor to any of the grand new ferry terminals in and around Manhattan might conclude that the region has a thriving commuter-ferry business. That assumption would be mostly false.

While public agencies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars building terminals for the boats, the few private companies that operate them are racking up losses and struggling to maintain service. The surge in the cost of diesel fuel has swamped them, forcing price increases that make them less competitive with other forms of mass transit.

Yesterday, the BillyBey Ferry Company, which has taken over some of the Hudson River routes, said it would tack on a surcharge of at least $1 per round trip between New Jersey and Manhattan to cover the higher cost of fuel. The one-way fare for the most popular trip, an eight-minute ride from Hoboken's train station to Battery Park City, will rise to $4 from $3.50 on Dec. 1.

That announcement came as another operator, New York Water Taxi, continued suspension of its service across the East River, at least through the weekend, because of a shortage of boats. A third company, SeaStreak, began searching for a buyer for its high-speed commuter operation based in Monmouth County, N.J., SeaStreak's parent company, Sea Containers Ltd., says it will lose almost $3 million this year.

On Monday, Water Taxi took over the service SeaStreak had been providing between South Amboy, N.J., and Lower Manhattan, using its two larger boats and one leased ferry. But it immediately raised the price of a 40-trip ticket by almost 20 percent, and ridership declined by 40 percent.

"It's just been a nightmare," said Tom Fox, president of Water Taxi, referring to recent mechanical problems, compounded by the high cost of fuel.

But, with a few exceptions, public officials do not appear too concerned. They are generally holding to their oft-stated position that if they build the ferry terminals, the ferries will come. A $56 million terminal opened last month on the west side of Midtown, and another terminal is scheduled to open in Weehawken, N.J., this winter. It cost $55 million.

Just last week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a request for proposals to operate ferries between Yonkers and a $69 million terminal the Port Authority is building in Battery Park City. Although the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is offering more than $3 million in federal financing to the chosen operator, the document states in bold-faced type, "The Port Authority is not using its own funds to subsidize the operations of this service."

Still, officials of the authority and virtually every other agency with interests in and around New York Harbor frequently declare their support for ferries, especially in times of emergency, such as Sept. 11 or the occasional blackout.

David Yassky, a New York City councilman who has been pressing for financial support for ferry operators, called the prevailing policy incoherent.

"Mass transit doesn't work if it's not subsidized," he said.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) approved a $150,000 subsidy to maintain ferry service between the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Manhattan, but city transportation officials have refused to spend it, Mr. Yassky said. That allocation could have covered the losses that Mr. Fox said Water Taxi has sustained on that route.

For the past week, Water Taxi has not had enough boats to provide service between Brooklyn and Manhattan. One of its boats was damaged by a fire that broke out on Nov. 7 while the boat was carrying nine passengers to Jersey City, Mr. Fox said. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the fire and has suspended the operating license of another Water Taxi boat because it failed an inspection, a Coast Guard spokesman said last week. A third Water Taxi boat is having its engines replaced.

Those losses have left Water Taxi with just three of its six smaller boats, and Mr. Fox said he chose to use them on Hudson River routes, which he said had more potential to become profitable. Water Taxi, which is controlled by Douglas Durst, a real estate developer, is in its fourth year of operation and has yet to break even, Mr. Fox said.

"We have had to triage the two intracity services that we operate, both of which are not yet profitable," Mr. Fox said. "We look forward to a more comprehensive public policy as it relates to support for water-borne transportation."

April 27th, 2006, 11:36 AM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
Ferry service to Manhattan
to resume
Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

It costs even more one-way than a gallon of gas, but some well-heeled, hurried Queens-to-Manhattan commuters may consider it: a ferry ride between Hunters Point and midtown.

On Monday, New York Water Taxi will resume its East River crossings at Hunters Point, with one-way rides for $5.50 between Hunters Point and Pier 11, and one-way trips between Hunters Point and the 34th St. pier for $4.50.

Passengers aboard New York Water Taxi's unique yellow catamarans with black and white checks won't have to worry about gas prices or traffic jams as they skim across the East River. Service will run between 6:35 a.m. and 9:05 a.m., and between 4:46 p.m. and 7:35 p.m.

Water Taxi officials predict that initially more than 200 passengers will use the ferry daily, and they expect the numbers to rise when Water Taxi Beach opens at the Hunters Point stop on May 26.

Last year, Water Taxi Beach was a popular destination point for commuters after work, a place where they could get a drink or play volleyball on pristine beach sand.

Ferry service has been credited for helping to reduce traffic congestion in places such as the 59th St. Bridge, while doing its part to help New Yorkers cut emissions.

"Restoring and expanding the East River service gives me great hope that New York Water Taxi can develop a system that meets the needs of all the redeveloping neighborhoods along the East River," said Water Taxi President Tom Fox.

Parking is available at the Hunters Point ferry terminal. The daily rate for ferry customers is $4, and the monthly rate is $60.

Commuters who buy a monthly parking pass will receive a discount on their monthly ferry commuter pass.

May 24th, 2006, 05:14 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
This sand is your sand
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Commuters this Memorial Day weekend can start ending their hectic workdays by hitting the beach in Long Island City.

Dubbed "Best Place to Pretend You're in Miami" by New York magazine, Water Taxi Beach offers a free spot in the sand, a view of the Manhattan skyline and live music and entertainment.

There's also wireless Internet access and a tropical-drink bar. But forget the bathing suits; swimming is not allowed.

Located at the New York Water Taxi Hunter's Point Ferry stop, the 20,000-square-foot beach oasis is just a four-minute ferry ride from the E. 34th St. pier in midtown Manhattan.

"We're happy to be back on the Long Island City waterfront," said Tom Fox, New York Water Taxi president.

When the free beach opens Saturday, it will also offer a volleyball court, picnic tables, monthly sandcastle-building contests for kids and food and drinks.

Teaming with the Port Authority, the ferry operator last summer debuted its urban getaway, offering $1 beers.

This year at the wharf there will be a 60-by-40-foot tent for shade that can accommodate up to 300 people for theater and arts events and parties. Already, the tent has been reserved for two weddings.

"Adding the tent will allow us to host more arts and cultural events, and it provides shade and shelter for beachgoers," said Fox, former president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy.

Harry's Sunset Tropical Drink Bar will feature fresh squeezed juices and tropical drinks and beach foods. Visitors may bring beach chairs, towels and blankets. Dogs, swimming and coolers will not be allowed.

Water Taxi Beach is accessible by ferry with one-way fares at $5. If you're driving, there's parking adjacent to the beach. It will be open through Columbus Day, Oct. 9. For more information, visit watertaxibeach.com.

May 24th, 2006, 05:55 PM
swimming is not allowed.
Water dangerous?

Germs, pollution, chemicals?

Or is it currents and riptides?

May 25th, 2006, 02:11 AM
I choose D) all of the above.

July 14th, 2006, 04:23 PM


July 14 – Red Hook based New York Water Taxi (NYWT) will begin operating water taxi service at Schaefer Landing in Williamsburg (South Tenth Street) on Monday July 17th. The stop will be added to the company’s existing East River commuter route between Long Island City’s Hunter’s Point (home of Water Taxi Beach) and Manhattan’s East 34th Street and Pier 11. In addition, weekend service will connect Williamsburg to other waterfront neighborhoods including DUMBO, Red Hook, Greenwich Village and Chelsea

Commuter service will bring Williamsburg resident to Wall Street’s Pier 11 and East 34th Street in midtown and operate from 6:23am – 9:23am and 4:25pm – 7:49pm each business day that the NYSE is open. Commuter fares are as follows:

One-way ticket: $5.50
10-trip Pack: $49.50
Monthly Pass: $195.00 (unlimited trips)

To inaugurate the new service New York Water Taxi will allow commuters to ride for free during the last two weeks of July if they purchase a monthly pass for August. Monthly passes can be purchased at www.nywatertaxi.com (http://www.nywatertaxi.com/) or by calling 212-742-1969 beginning Thursday July 13th.

Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi stated “We look forward to providing residents of the rapidly developing Williamsburg waterfront community with convenient and reliable waterborne transportation service.”

Williamsburg residents will also enjoy convenient weekend service to Hunters Point and all other stops along the Company’s weekend hop-on / hop off route including East 34th Street,, South Street Seaport, Fulton Ferry Landing and Red Hook Brooklyn, Battery Park, World Financial Center, Christopher Street, West 23rd Street and West 44th Streets in Manhattan. The one-way fare is $10, and a two day hop-on / hop-off pass with unlimited use is $25.

Quickly becoming common sight in the Harbor, New York Water Taxi’s unique yellow catamarans sport black and white checks, are handicapped-accessible, offer comfortable climate-controlled interiors with upholstered seating and a small caf�/bar. The smaller Water Taxi’s s can travel at up to 28 mph and accommodate between 74 and 149 passengers on two decks. Operating commuter, tour and educational cruises New York Water Taxi carried 850,000 passengers in 2005.

July 18th, 2006, 02:54 PM
Williamsburg's Water Taxi Signals New Era

BY LEON NEYFAKH - Special to the Sun

July 18, 2006


Williamsburg's tenure as "the new East Village" may have ended yesterday morning when the new ferry port at Schaefer Landing sent its first bright yellow Water Taxi on its way to Wall Street.

Not so long ago, Williamsburg was considered a hip new frontier for Brooklyn's artists, writers, and musicians.The arrival of the Water Taxi — with its grandmotherly onboard offerings of cookies and hot chocolate — suggests that the wealthy financiers, consultants, and entrepreneurs who have recently made their nests along the waterfront are there to stay.

"It seems fitting for that strange little corner of Williamsburg," the author of "The Hipster Handbook" and the culturally inclined "FreeWilliamsburg" Web log, Robert Lanham, said. "There's a cigar bar over there. It seems fitting that they have their own little elite taxi shuttle in the city."

Strange though the Water Taxi may be, Mr. Lanham said he is happy to see Williamsburg changing.

Naturally, the suited newcomers whose morning commutes to the financial district from the Schaefer Landing condominiums will now take only eight minutes are happy as well. Until yesterday, the famously overcrowded L train at Bedford Avenue provided the only public transportation route into the city from Williamsburg. Now, commuters will be able to catch hourly Water Taxis for $5 on weekday mornings between 6:23 a.m. and 9:23 a.m., and again between 4:35 p.m. and 7:49 p.m. On weekends, the ferry will run hourly between 11:08 a.m. and 6:36 p.m.

"It's going to provide a quick transportation into Manhattan, and it'll therefore make the area more desirable," said Helene Luchnick, the executive vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman who proudly claims to have kicked off Williamsburg's development boom four and a half years ago. "In the two towers at Schaefer Landing, the monitor in the elevator will show the taxi schedule."

Ms. Luchnick said she sees Williamsburg heading in the same direction as Dumbo and Soho, both neighborhoods which started seedy, turned artsy, and developed eventually into prime real estate for wealthy professionals. "There are still artsy types living in Williamsburg, but they're not the ones buying into the new condominiums," Ms. Luchnick said. "Every site up through Greenpoint has been sold for towers."

Travis Noyes, New York Water Taxi's Vice President for Sales and Marketing, was reluctant to make a judgment about what the new ferry station meant for the neighborhood's demographic. The boats go to Wall Street, he said, because "that's where the docks are."

© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

July 18th, 2006, 07:42 PM
^ Idyllic lifestyle.

May 30th, 2007, 04:43 PM
Water Taxi To Offer Service To Governors Island From Brooklyn

May 30, 2007

Starting Saturday, New York Water Taxi will run boats on the weekends from Red Hook and the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn to Governors Island.

New York Water Taxi will offer one free ride on Saturday at 10 a.m. from Red Hook.

Right now, you can only get to the island by taking a free ferry from the Battery terminal in Lower Manhattan.

There's no word yet on how much the new trip will cost, but Water Taxi currently charges $5 for a normal one-way trip.

Copyright © 2007 NY1 News
http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=70212 (http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=70212)

April 12th, 2008, 07:05 AM
Urbanite (http://weblogs.amny.com/entertainment/urbanite/blog/)

A commute that got cheaper

New York Water Taxi cruises past downtown. Photo from reneerwest (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64822977@N00/2233473073/) on Flickr.

Here’s a commute that defies the law of ever-increasing fares:

The New York Water Taxi (http://www.nywatertaxi.com/)announced it is lowering its prices. Trips on the ferry lines into lower Manhattan from Yonkers and Haverstraw will go from $12 to $10 and $15 to $12, respectively, starting May 1.

Savings are greater the more trips you buy. The struggling ferry line hopes cheaper seats will increase ridership, which along the line is at 2,200 people a month — low considering each trip could ferry 149 passengers.

The service is able to keep operating costs down through public funding and grants, including one from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

-- Garett Sloane

Copyright 2008 AM New York.

April 12th, 2008, 09:10 AM
This looks (http://www.nywatertaxi.com/tours/waterfalls/) like fun. Another great posting (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=225018&postcount=39) by one of my favorite WiredNY members :D
Thanks Brian

The Benniest
April 12th, 2008, 09:14 AM
Maybe its just me, but I'm having a hard time understanding the "Weekend: Hop on Hop off" schedule.


Let's say I wanted to go from East Midtown (E 34th St.) and wanted to get off down by Battery Park. What would I have to do?


April 12th, 2008, 10:15 AM
Let's say I wanted to go from East Midtown (E 34th St.) and wanted to get off down by Battery Park. What would I have to do?


Hop off, then when you return: hop on. :confused:

Boats pick up at each stop on a regular schedule. Your day pass allows you unlimited travel - hop on and off as much as you like. This - I think (http://www.vacationsmadeeasy.com/NewYorkNY/activity/NewYorkWaterTaxi1.cfm) - service is a similar to how the big apple tour busses operate: you can get on/off at any location and at any time of day.

April 12th, 2008, 10:30 AM
Thanks info, nice to be appreciated.

April 12th, 2008, 10:38 AM
That 2-Day pass at $25 / person for hop-on / hop-off (http://www.nywatertaxi.com/hop/)on weekends is a good deal if you want to see a lot of sights.

April 12th, 2008, 10:55 AM
.......... is a good deal if you want to see a lot of sights.

My guess is that there will soon be another stop added to that ferry route. Recently I spotted a new dock (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=161839&postcount=9) on the piers in Manhattanville, looks similar to some of the other water taxi docks, perhaps there will be yet another 'site to see' on the tour.

April 12th, 2008, 02:31 PM
New York Water Taxi leaving Fulton Ferry Landing and heading south.


April 12th, 2008, 06:53 PM
That warehouse in the background ^ was demo'ed this week :D

It sat on the site of the new Brooklyn Bridge Park (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4027).

Full coverage HERE (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=225062&postcount=328)

May 5th, 2008, 12:39 PM
City to start new ferry service routes

Monday, May 05, 2008 | 11:52 AM


A new ferry service will start running between Lower Manhattan and Queens next week. The route will go from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to Rockaway, Queens.

http://a.abclocal.go.com/static/art/global/icon_wabc_byline.gif Eyewitness News
NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new ferry service will start running between Lower Manhattan and Queens next week. The route will go from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to Rockaway, Queens.

It will also stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal's pier 4 at 58th street.
"It will be a one-hour ride from southeast queens to manhattan," said Councilman John Liu, Chair of the Transportation Committee. "This is most welcome. We are straining at transit capacity."

The new route is part of a two-year plan to expand ferry service throughout the five boroughs.

New York water taxi recently cancelled a similar route, citing high fuel costs.

Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Transportation are expected to announce future expansion of ferry service at noon today, along with council speaker Christine Quinn, who has called for ferry stops in all five boroughs.

(Copyright ©2008 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

May 5th, 2008, 10:44 PM
Ferry schedule will be 60 minutes each way between Rockaway and Pier 11, Manhattan. Price is $6.00/trip.

The "A" subway express makes the northbound run from Beach 98 Street to Broadway/Nassau (Pier 11 area) in 53 minutes, for $2. Five expresses run each morning. There are five corresponding southbounds in the afternoon.


May 6th, 2008, 04:42 AM
Bright Future for New York's Waterways

By BENJAMIN SARLIN (http://www2.nysun.com/authors/Benjamin+Sarlin)
Special to the Sun
May 6, 2008

http://www2.nysun.com/pics/232_large.jpgKonrad Fiedler / Konrad Fiedler/New York Sun
An Environmentally Friendly Alternative Ferries like this one will soon transport commuters around the city.

http://www2.nysun.com/pics/240_large.jpgNew York City Department of Transportation

New York's waterways, once indispensible for transportation around the city, are making a comeback, with a new ferry service expected to launch next week.
The first route, connecting Far Rockaway (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Far+Rockaway), the Brooklyn (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Brooklyn) Army Terminal, and the South Street Seaport (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=South+Street+Seaport), will open May 12 and operate only on weekdays. Fares for the partially subsidized service, to be run by a private operator, New York Water Taxi, will be capped at $6. Riders will also be able to purchase a 40-ticket package at a 10% discount.

Mayor Bloomberg (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Michael+Bloomberg), who arrived at the press conference in Brooklyn by water taxi from Lower Manhattan (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Manhattan), said the "fast, affordable, and environmentally friendly" ferries would shave about 30 minutes off the commute between Manhattan and Rockaway, which he estimated at 90 minutes by car. He added that the service would be an especially attractive alternative to driving given the high price of gas.

New ferry landings in three locations are being paid for using $4.4 million in federal money secured by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Jerrold+Nadler) and Carolyn Maloney (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Carolyn+Maloney). The city plans to expand ferry service to include stops at East 34th Street in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, and South Williamsburg in Brooklyn (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Williamsburg+(Brooklyn)), beginning in July of this year. Additional stops are planned for 2010 in Greenpoint and North Williamsburg in Brooklyn (http://www2.nysun.com/related_results.php?term=Williamsburg+(Brooklyn)), as well as Roosevelt Island. The city is also exploring creating stops that could include East 90th Street and West 125th Street in Manhattan, Riverdale in the Bronx, and Coney Island in Brooklyn, among others.
"Bringing new ferry service to New York's waterways really is an idea that's been around a long time and the question was never should we do this, but really rather how we can do this," Mr. Bloomberg said.

The mayor said the city is also in discussions with Rep. Anthony Weiner to find a use for the $15 million in federal funding the congressman secured in 2005 to buy new ferries. The transportation commissioner at the time, Iris Weinshall, said then that the money was insufficient to purchase and operate new ferries, but Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday: "We're not going to walk away from $15 million."


© 2007 The New York Sun,

May 11th, 2008, 06:42 PM
Lombard for News
American Princess docks at Sunset Park, an intermediate stop on the new Rockaway-to-Wall Street route. The new service begins Monday.



Sunday, May 11th 2008, 4:00 AM

Transportation-starved Rockaway residents are getting another commuting option, but some believe the new ferry service is destined to fail.

Critics also are wary of the city's financial commitment to the project because it has allocated only a fraction of the money available from city and federal sources.

Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said he has secured $1.8 million since 2002. But the city budget for the ferry is $1.1 million, according to the mayor's office.

"If you do the math, it's a little off," said Addabbo. "I have to talk about that with the administration. I have to find out where [the $700,000] is."

Rep. Anthony Weiner, who previously secured $15 million for a ferry service from the Rockaways to Manhattan, said he was left out of the negotiations and his money wasn't used for the project.

"Fifteen million was not a number I pulled out of the air. It's roughly the cost to buy three fast ferries," said Weiner, who was conspicuously absent from Monday's news conference announcing the launch with Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"My original vision was for the city to buy the boats. The city said they didn't want them and went in a different direction," said Weiner (D-Queens, Brooklyn).

New York Water Taxi, in conjunction with TWFM Ferry, will operate the new service. Boats will leave Riis Landing at 5:45a.m. and 7:45 a.m., stopping to pick up passengers in Sunset Park and arriving at Pier 11 near Wall St. an hour after leaving the Rockaways.

Returning boats will depart Manhattan at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30p.m.

The chief of New York Water Taxi said the viability of the new ferry depends on whether the city extends service to Mill Basin or Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, allowing for more passengers.

"The real success of this service will be determined on if we get a dock on the other side of the bay," said Tom Fox of New York Water Taxi. "It would be a slam dunk. I'm certain of that."

But some Rockaway advocates said the departure times are not frequent enough and are impractical for most peninsula residents. And adding a stop in Brooklyn would just add to commuting woes, they said.

"This should be the Rockaway ferry - not the Sunset Park-and-Rockaway ferry," said Joe Hartigan, a longtime proponent of a Rockaway ferry service.

Critics also said that departing from Riis Landing - far from the major thoroughfares in the Rockaways - is a major hassle for commuters, especially should they miss evening ferries.

Weiner said he is talking with the National Park Service, and plans to use the $15 million for other New York Harbor ferries.

"One of the reasons I ran for mayor [in 2005] is because we need ferry service," he said. "Not just for the peninsula, but for western Queens, Sheepshead Bay, Riverdale and others."

Bloomberg said the city is still open to using Weiner's money, but added that ridership will be the determining factor in the success of the Rockaway ferry. "We're not going to walk away from 15 million bucks," Bloomberg said on Monday.

"If nobody uses the ferries, they're not going to survive, no matter what anybody promises you."

May 18th, 2008, 07:14 AM
A Commute From Rockaway, Now With a Harbor View

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/05/13/nyregion/13ferry-refer.600.jpg Joshua Lott for The New York Times
A view from the deck of a ferry that began carrying passengers on Monday from the tip of the Rockaways to Lower Manhattan. The new service is provided by New York Water Taxi.

Published: May 13, 2008

Amid whipping wind and rain and beneath gloomy gray skies, a new ferry service was born yesterday, setting sail from Breezy Point, at the tip of the Rockaways, to Lower Manhattan, with a stop in Brooklyn along the way. A total of 51 commuters were aboard for the first two trips, putting on brave faces and rain-slicked coats, and carrying umbrellas.

“Ferry service will make the very difficult commute between the Rockaways and Manhattan much easier and less expensive,” said Christine C. Quinn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/q/christine_c_quinn/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the City Council speaker. The service leaves from Riis Landing, in Queens, and is being provided by New York Water Taxi. Also along for the maiden voyage were Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., a council member from Queens, and Anthony D. Weiner (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/anthony_d_weiner/index.html?inline=nyt-per), a congressman serving Brooklyn and Queens.

But this first journey was, in fact, the end of a long planning process: New York Water Taxi made a test run, for example, seven months ago. And discussions about introducing a ferry line started long before that. Mr. Addabbo persuaded the Council to set aside $300,000 a year for each of six years as he argued for the Rockaway run. Of that $1.8 million, $1.1 million will subsidize the operation, and the remaining $700,000 has been given to the Department of Transportation in case the subsidy falls short.

Mr. Weiner also helped direct federal money toward the project. “I’ve contributed $3 million for the ferry landing,” he said.

“I am very excited, very happy,” said Deirdre Rossi, a commuter on the second morning run. Ms. Rossi, a resident of Rockaway Park, works as an administrative assistant at Goldman Sachs. The ferry, which docks at Pier 11 in downtown Manhattan, shortened her commute by about 20 to 30 minutes.

Tom Fox, the president of New York Water Taxi, said the company’s initial target is 300 commuters a day. “It will take a while to get this number,” he said, noting that even 300 daily riders would still not be enough for the run to become profitable, especially with fuel costs increasing.

Profitability, he said, would require 700 passengers a day.

Most of the first-day riders were commuters who said they usually took the bus or drove their own cars to reach Brooklyn subway stations, where they hopped on the subway to Manhattan.

Among them were Mary Brady, who works on Wall Street and previously used the car-subway combination to get to work, and Paula Reich, who relied on the bus-subway relay.

They are almost the commuters that New York Water Taxi is seeking.
“The real target is not getting people off the subway or express bus, but to get them off the car,” Mr. Fox said.

There are two trips in the morning, at 5:45 and 7:45, and two later in the day, at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The journey takes an hour, with a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, in Sunset Park, about 20 minutes from Manhattan.

“I can’t make it for the 5:30 ferry,” said Jack Flanagan, a lawyer working in Midtown who was aboard the 7:45 trip. He said many people who had jobs there might not be able to reach Pier 11 in time for the evening sailing.

It is commuters in the western part of the Rockaways, more than those in Far Rockaway, who are expected to benefit the most.

According to the Department of Transportation, about 565 residents of the western Rockaways work in downtown Manhattan. “Of these, 33 percent drive alone, 12 percent carpool, and the rest take the subway and/or bus,” according to a study by the department.

“Potential riders will be from Breezy Point, Roxbury, Belle Harbor and Neponsit — the neighborhood of Rockaway,” Mr. Fox said.

There was little potential benefit seen for those who live farther away. “Sixty percent of the population lives in Far Rockaway,” said Jonathan L. Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14 in Far Rockaway. He was not optimistic that people from his area would drive 15 to 20 minutes to Riis Landing for the ferry. But, he said, he remained open to the possibility: “I am curious to see what happens.”

For his part, Mr. Gaska said he rode the subway.

While Mr. Gaska said that he thought many working-class residents would balk at the $12 round-trip cost of the ferry and stick with the subway, Mr. Addabbo, who represents the western Rockaways, said he believed the ferry was cost-efficient when other commuting expenses, like parking and gas, were added in.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 24th, 2008, 06:30 AM

The Ferry: Past, Present and Future

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/05/25/realestate/post_span_ready.jpg Josh Haner/The New York Times
Northside Piers opens soon; it may offer ferry access.

By C. J. HUGHES (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=C. J. HUGHES&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=C. J. HUGHES&inline=nyt-per)
Published: May 25, 2008

BRIDGES spelled the end of New York’s ferries a century ago; when you could zip over the Queensboro by trolley or car, why bother with poky boats?

Since then, the ferry has been the object of an on-again off-again romance. It gained in popularity in the late 1980s, with the redevelopment of the Hudson River waterfront in New Jersey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newjersey/?inline=nyt-geo) — which, as beat-up former industrial land, was ill served by traditional transportation.

A ferry, which could pull up close to the rows of condominiums there, seemed to many developers and planners a better way to commute.
But the ferry declined in favor again when the passage of time revealed that not enough people rode ferries to offset the high cost of running them. New York Waterway, with many New Jersey routes, nearly declared bankruptcy in 2004 before selling half its fleet.

These days, ferries have regained a certain luster. Many city officials, residents and developers believe ferry service can finally succeed — in part because this month the city offered its first subsidy ever, $1.1 million, to a ferry operator, New York Water Taxi. On May 12, it began a route from Breezy Point, Queens (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/queens/?inline=nyt-geo), to the Wall Street area.

Ferries would be especially exciting for developers putting up condominiums along the East River. A half dozen buildings are either in the works or recently completed, on land that can be a long walk from the nearest subway.

But even with city aid, builders may have to kick in a portion themselves.
For example, BFC Partners, the lead developer of Schaefer Landing, a condo-and-rental complex at 440 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo), estimates that it had invested $750,000 over the last four years to help to get Water Taxi ferry service up and running there.

Donald Capoccia, a managing principal, says the complex’s homeowner association also pays $100,000 a year to underwrite service to Schaefer, which has 210 condos and 140 rentals, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. The condos, priced from $300,000 to $1.95 million, sold out seven months ago.

“Residents know ferries are critical to the value of their real estate, even if they don’t use them,” Mr. Capoccia said.

Michael Lappin, the chief executive of CPC Resources, which is redeveloping the former Domino Sugar plant on the water in Brooklyn, is prepared to ask buyers to chip in for a lower price, which on Water Taxi boats averages $5.50 for a 10-minute one-way trip.

Promising 2,200 units, condo or rental, the 11.5-acre mixed-use project awaits approvals before its groundbreaking in the summer of 2009. But the developer is already exploiting the ferries’ marketing potential: in a rendering on the project’s Web site, thenewdomino.com (http://thenewdomino.com/), one appears docked nearby. “People want to get to their work and entertainment in a reasonable way,” Mr. Lappin said.

Subsidies may not even be necessary if enough passengers pay in the first place, says David Von Spreckelsen, a senior vice president at Toll Brothers, which is building the Northside Piers complex in Williamsburg.

This week, residents will move in to the site’s first completed condo tower, which has 180 units in 29 stories. Units range from 450-square-foot studios to 2,100-square-foot three-bedrooms and are priced from $350,000 to $1.6 million. (Mr. Von Spreckelsen says 70 percent have sold since Northside Piers’ sales office opened in January 2007.)

Ferries are expected at the pier that is planned next door, at the Edge, a development still under construction. Together, the two developments’ residents should provide “enough of a critical mass of people to sustain ridership.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

July 12th, 2008, 10:56 AM
The Rockaway Ferry to Manhattan is a great excursion. I wanted to get into the city quickly and without the stress of changing from bus to subway. I had the added pleasure of the scenic route to the city. The ride was a great adventure and relaxing pleasure. I wish that there could be more times added to this service. There are only two rides daily into the city and two rides back to Rockaway Beach. I wish there could be more frequent rides on the ferry especially midday ride into the city and a late night ride back on weekends.

Elaine Green

August 20th, 2008, 03:55 AM
Hey guys, does anybody who rode the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry before 2003 remember the name of the vessel it used? Thanks.

August 20th, 2008, 07:56 PM
I have to say the ferry is a much more pleasant commute than the PATH, so I can't blame people for using it, but perhaps it should be price more evenly with the other mass transits.

August 20th, 2008, 09:53 PM
Most of the private ferry operators charge extra for bikes!

August 21st, 2008, 05:30 PM
I have to say the ferry is a much more pleasant commute than the PATH, so I can't blame people for using it, but perhaps it should be price more evenly with the other mass transits.

That would be really nice indeed, sir.

November 5th, 2009, 06:03 AM
East River Commuter Ferry Service Could Be Halted, Again


(photo from Brownstoner)

For almost two years, city officials have extolled a proposal for a five-borough network of ferries, an ambitious plan that the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said would make New York “a shining example of urban sustainability for cities all over the world.”

The plan moved quickly. A ferry linking the Rockaways, in Queens, to Manhattan started operating last year; there also was an announcement that service on the East River would be expanded by next spring. Then, in February, came more promising news: The existing East River network would continue to be subsidized by the city through 2010.

All the while, developers welcomed the service — just a quick jaunt to Manhattan, with tickets $3 to $5.50 — as an amenity in marketing expensive condos on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts.

But eight months later, the operator of the ferry service, New York Water Taxi, says that it has not been able to come to an agreement with the city about continuing the subsidy, and that it might have to halt the East River commuter service for the third time in four years. Further, the city’s Economic Development Corporation said that because of the recession, plans to expand the ferry service on the East River have been delayed for at least a year, until spring 2011.

City officials said they remain committed to the East River ferry routes. Madelyn Wils, the executive vice president of the development corporation, said “the administration is working with the City Council on both a short-term and long-term sustainable citywide ferry plan.”

But the threat of another winter of canceled service has left many to wonder, and has added to fears that the longer ferries are seen as unreliable, the less New Yorkers will see them as a viable means of transportation.

It is unwelcome news for a small but loyal group of riders who have come to rely on the ferry service as an alternative to the busy subway lines that feed neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Robert G. Thorne, a research scientist at the New York University School of Medicine, rents an apartment at Schaefer Landing, a development in Williamsburg that is also the site of the ferry landing.

On Tuesday morning, as they do every day, Mr. Thorne and his wife boarded the boat and waved goodbye to their daughter. “This saves us 35, 40 minutes each way,” he said. “That’s more time with our daughter.” Given the state of the L train — “horribly overpopulated” — Mr. Thorne, who has lived in the development since 2007, said losing ferry service would cause him to strongly consider moving.

Many of the passengers live in luxury developments like Schaefer Landing. Privately, officials say they would feel more comfortable putting money into a service with more stops and a broader cross section of passengers.

To operate the East River route, New York Water Taxi needs about $900,000 in subsidies each year, city officials say, aid that becomes crucial during the winter, when ridership — which peaks in the summer at about 4,350 passengers per month — falls by about half. Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, said he had submitted a number of subsidy proposals to the development corporation.

“We’re waiting to hear back,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can work something out. If not, we’ll give the passengers the courtesy of a two-week notice, and we’ll have to cancel the service.”

A spokesman for Ms. Quinn said in a statement that the Council speaker was “confident we will be able to preserve and expand existing service.”

The East River service stops at Schaefer Landing; Long Island City, in Queens; and Fulton Ferry, in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, it stops at Pier 11 near Wall Street and at East 35th Street.

Under the expanded plan, two more stops would be added, in North Williamsburg and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And the ferries, which run twice in the morning and twice in the evening, would operate much more frequently.

Even with the current limited service, and what seems to be an almost total absence of marketing, word of the ferries is drawing more people who do not live in luxury developments.

At the Schaefer Landing stop, where no sign or schedule notes the existence of waterborne transportation, Carveth Martin, a graphic designer, stood with her bike on Tuesday morning. She learned about the ferry by word of mouth, and now — for the friendly atmosphere, the absence of the crowds, the short commute — she takes the water taxi to Wall Street several times a week.

“It would be a bit of a tragedy to lose this boat,” she said.



December 9th, 2009, 07:47 AM
Ferried Away

As winter looms, East River water taxis can't stay afloat

The Water Taxi fleet motors past the Battery on the Hudson.

Brooklyn’s waterfront condo dwellers are again up a creek. For the third time in four years, commuter water taxi services on the East River are likely to take a winter hiatus as ferry operator New York Water Taxi weathers a seasonal dropoff in revenues. What’s more, the city has halted plans to increase East River ferry service by spring 2010, pushing that expansion back at least another year.

That’s bad news for developers of luxury residential projects in Brooklyn and Long Island City, who banked on water taxis to carry commuters to Manhattan. One survey found that nearly half the residents of Williamsburg condo Schaefer Landing considered the taxis a significant factor in their move there. But now they’re caught in a chicken-and-egg conundrum, as the city bides its time until building occupancy—and ferry ridership—increases.

Plaintive though the cries of Brooklyn bloggers may be, only a vocal minority regularly relies on water taxis, which get about 4,300 monthly riders in summer. The service will need a much wider range of commuters if it is to catch on permanently. New York Water Taxi requires about $900,000 in yearly subsidies to continue operating East River service through the winter, when monthly ridership drops by half.

Both Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, and David Lombino, a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which subsidizes the commuter service, said talks to keep ferries running through the winter are ongoing. But commuters have learned to expect the worst: In 2008, service shut down on January 1 and didn’t return until June.

Launched that same year, the EDC’s ambitious ferry plan included new and expanded service throughout the five boroughs and continued subsidy of East River service through 2010. The first phase, opened last May, connected Far Rockaway to South Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The second phase, now delayed, would add new stops at North Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and a new landing at Roosevelt Island, funded by $4.4 million in federal transportation funds, with an additional $1.1 million from the Bloomberg administration and the city council. (Even more quixotically, perhaps, the EDC recently announced a feasibility study for commuter ferry service from Manhattan to Coney Island, with stops near the New York Aquarium, KeySpan Park, and a new pier to be built in Coney Island Creek.)

Encouraging a green mode of transportation that requires little infrastructure would seem a no-brainer for the Bloomberg administration.

But as city officials face a $5 billion deficit, developers, commuters, and ferry operators can agree on one thing: Fiscal, not environmental, sustainability will determine the fate of waterborne transportation in the coming year.

Jennifer K. Gorsche


June 5th, 2010, 10:23 PM
What New York Needs: More Water Taxis


SEATS WITH A VIEW The City Critic traveling with Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning, on the Ikea express

From water’s edge you can cross the Hudson River — or the East River, as you prefer — in less time than it often takes to wait for the subway. Even at the height of rush hour, you’ll get a seat, quite likely one near a window. From out on the water, the city you think you know will seem taller, more glamorous, more cinematic.

You may pass under a bridge or two, or even three, and as you do, your mental soundtrack may switch to Gershwin — or Jay-Z, as you prefer. You might even imagine a burst of fireworks off the starboard bow. The buildings will grandstand for your attention, beckoning you to their shore, until they grow bigger and bigger and you draw nearer and nearer and suddenly there you are, standing at their feet, windblown and a bit giddy. Why doesn’t New York have more ferries?

Countless thousands of apartments have recently been built along New York’s rivers, but the rivers themselves are relatively uncrowded. Other cities have ferry lines sprouting out of every pier like weeds from a crack in the pavement. Why not New York?

This week is the unofficial start of ferry season. Routes to Mets and Yankees games are up and running. The Governors Island Water Taxi Beach (a summer fun party zone with siblings in Long Island City, Queens, and the South Street Seaport) just welcomed its first visitors of the year. And a new weekend line that goes from Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridge Park and, on Fridays, to Governors Island just made its debut.
Just in time for all this activity, the question of what role ferries might play in the future life of the city is about to come into sharper focus.

Three public entities have been considering it from different angles. The Economic Development Corporation is soon to release its “Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study.”

The Department of City Planning is interested in how ferries could revitalize the waterfront. And the Office of Emergency Management is looking around for mass-evacuation plans. (In a crisis, you wouldn’t want to be left hailing a taxicab.) Put all that together, and there’s a chance that a decade from now, ferries could be mentioned along with buses and subways as main-course options on New Yorkers’ transportation menu.

An estimated 100,000 people a day ride New York’s ferries. The options are pretty good if you want to commute between Lower Manhattan and either Staten Island or New Jersey. They’re not bad if you want to shop at Ikea. They get thinner if you want to go between Manhattan and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Dumbo, or Long Island City. If you’re commuting from the Rockaways, in Queens, you have one shot a day. And beyond that, nothing.

It’s not a simple matter to expand mass transit. Planners typically divide the city into tiny “transportation analysis zones,” then connect all the trips made in that zone to all their destinations. They break it down by time of day and type of vehicle, then factor in cost of travel, duration of travel, number of transfers and so on. Then they do the same thing for potentially thousands of other zones. The result is a precise mathematical model that indicates who is going where and how, and therefore what new options they might need or use. It can take months to get it right.

Which is several decades and a few billion dollars less than it will take to get a Second Avenue subway (may your grandchildren live long enough to see its inaugural run).
Ferries are a growth opportunity. To add new routes, you don’t need to dig a tunnel or lay a track. You don’t need to reroute traffic, build bridges or add lanes. And in many parts of New York, unlike almost every other city, you wouldn’t need to build big parking lots where riders could leave their cars. What cars?

What you need is a viable pier and a boat. You need a convenient way to get from water’s edge to people’s ultimate destinations. And you need someone to be in charge of it all.

Right now, with the major exception of the Staten Island Ferry, all the city’s routes are privately operated, mostly by the NY Waterway (which gets a boost from Goldman Sachs, whose employees commute in from New Jersey) and the New York Water Taxi (which receives subsidies from the city).

It’s hard to imagine ferry service expanding very far unless it becomes a public initiative, an integrated system with coordinated schedules and MetroCard access. But who would lead such an initiative? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority? The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey? The Department of Transportation? No one seems to know.

Whatever value these public agencies ultimately assign to reducing car traffic, easing interborough transit, supporting waterfront development or other such civic goals, New Yorkers have a personal reason to care. Ferries are fun. They tend to cost a few dollars more than other forms of mass transit, but you can think of the difference as an inexpensive form of mental health care.

Bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, through streets lined with brownstones and over to the Red Hook ball fields. Stuff yourself on empanadas and pupusas. Too tired to bike all the way home? Stop at Fairway for a limeade, then catch the Ikea ferry to Lower Manhattan, where a half-dozen subways can whisk you wherever. That’s a very good day.

If a few hundred thousand more New Yorkers could commute to work with the sun on their faces and the wind in their hair, we might be so much less stressed that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves. We might be Seattle, for Pete’s sake. Maybe that’s why New York doesn’t have more ferries.


August 18th, 2010, 07:40 AM
Williamsburg's Water Taxi Outlook Finally Less Depressing

August 17, 2010, by Sara

The approach of fall often means another round of ferry woes, usually emanating from distraught South Williamsburg residents feeling isolated by cutbacks to ferry service at Schaefer Landing. But this year may be different. The Post reports that the city has issued a request for proposals for a Williamsburg ferry landing, for a pilot program to start next spring. The ferry would swing through Greenpoint as well. Also possibly joining the program: Astoria, Roosevelt Island, and Coney Island, along with 20th, 75th, 90th, and 125th streets on the East River. Brooklyn365 notes that the route sounds a little more like the G train than the L, but either way: is this the end of Williamsburg's water taxi woes, or will it just make South Williamsburg's luxury development dwellers feel yet more neglected?

City plans ferry service to Williamsburg (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/setting_sail_for_burg_OQIyBXmGED4BMrPpIyzDBL?CMP=O TC-rss&FEEDNAME=) [NYP]
The 'G Ferry' coming to North Brooklyn in 2011 (http://brooklyn365.com/2010/08/ferry-coming-north-brooklyn-2011/) [Brooklyn365]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/08/17/williamsburgs_water_taxi_outlook_finally_less_depr essing.php

February 2nd, 2011, 04:34 AM
Ferries to Ply East River Far More Regularly Soon

By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/michael_m_grynbaum/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: February 1, 2011

For all their dominance on Staten Island, ferries have long struggled to muscle their way into the city’s mass transit mainstream. Experiments in Queens and Brooklyn have been held back by infrequent service, outsize operating costs and low ridership.


The New York Times

But the city, unfazed by past failures, is now embarking on a more ambitious plan: a year-round ferry network that will provide all-day service in the East River, starting in June.

Under the plan, to be announced on Wednesday, ferries will travel along a seven-stop route that stretches from Long Island City, Queens, to the Fulton Ferry landing by the Brooklyn Bridge, and includes Manhattan terminals at Pier 11 in the financial district and East 34th Street. During peak hours, boats will arrive at each stop every 20 minutes and travel in both directions.

The service is an attempt by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council to create a robust and viable mass transit alternative for a growing waterfront population that has struggled with clogged subway lines and bus routes that have been truncated or eliminated altogether.

“If we want every part of Brooklyn, every part of Queens, to be as attractive to businesses and residents as Midtown Manhattan is,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, “we have to make it as easy as possible to get to and from in an orderly, affordable fashion. That is what ferries can do.”

The program comes with $9 million in guaranteed city money and a commitment to maintain the service for three years. The board of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which will oversee the service, is expected to award a contract to BillyBey, a division of New York Waterway, in a vote on Wednesday.

There is an existing East River ferry service, run by New York Water Taxi, but it makes only a handful of runs each day, during the morning and afternoon rush.

The new network will offer two additional stops in Brooklyn, at India Street in Greenpoint and at North Sixth Street in Williamsburg, and the boats will travel far more frequently, running from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. In the summer, ferries will also stop at a pier near Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and, on Fridays, make a run to Governors Island.

A spokeswoman for New York Water Taxi, which had also bid for the contract, said the company had not decided whether it would continue its current service along the route.

City officials said they were hopeful that the expanded route — and subsidized fares, as low as $3 a ride — would foster a commuting culture, in which waterfront residents integrate the ferries into their daily routines. The boats are to arrive at each stop every 20 minutes during the morning and afternoon rush times, and every half-hour at off-peak hours in the summer. In the winter, the off-peak frequency would be reduced to every hour.

“Consistent and dependable service will be a magnet for potential users,” Robert K. Steel, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, said in an interview in the fall.

“Development has occurred along this corridor. You’ve got more people who would potentially find the service attractive.”

Passengers will pay $3 or $5.50 a ride; the route has two price zones, with the northern part of Williamsburg as the dividing line.

Bicycles will be allowed onboard, and at rush hours, a free bus service will pick up passengers at the 34th Street pier and make stops along the Midtown office corridor.

“It’s an opportunity for anybody who lives in the area on an overcrowded bus, or an overcrowded subway line,” Ms. Quinn said. “It isn’t just for waterfront dwellers; it’s for people in a radius around the waterfront.”


February 2nd, 2011, 08:32 PM
Good. Good if they got even more on the west side too. Especially since the ARC tunnel was cancelled. :(

February 17th, 2012, 11:47 PM
Suggestion to Mods: possibly combine this thread with this (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2860) one.

I'm really surprised New Yorkers don't jump at the chance to ride on a ferry. Shame about the comparatively prohibitive costs. Is that the only reason they don't?

All aboard! Golden wants city to fund southern Brooklyn ferry service

By Daniel Bush | Brooklyn Daily

State Sen. Marty Golden is backing Borough President Marty Markowitz’s pie-in-the-sky plan to bring ferry service to Southern Brooklyn — and is demanding that the city foot the bill.
Golden (R–Bay Ridge) said the proposal to launch ferry routes from Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Canarsie won’t set sail until the city agrees to fund the project.

“The idea works but the investment has to be there on the city’s end,” said Golden. “If the city’s trying to find a way not to subsidize the system, it’s not going to happen.”
The lawmaker asked New York Waterway — the East River ferry service that currently runs boats to Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Downtown — to crunch some numbers and figure out how much it would cost to expand their routes to southern Brooklyn.

But the city has already said no: a 2011 Economic Development Corporation ferry service report found that ridership in southern Brooklyn wouldn’t be high enough to justify spending the money needed to bring waterborne transportation there.

Yet that didn’t stop Borough President Markowitz from floating the proposal (http://www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/2012/6/all_sobroferries_2012_02_10_bk.html) in his State of the Borough address.

“[Southern Brooklyn] has it all except for one thing — a ferry,” Markowitz said.

New York Waterway opened its Brooklyn ferry routes after the city Economic Development Corporation agreed to spend $9.3 million over three years to help pay for the service.

The 100-person ferries run every 20 minutes and cost $4 a ride, or $140 for a monthly pass — much more than the $2.25 single ride and $104 unlimited monthly ride offered by the MTA.

An Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman said the Williamsburg ferry venture has to be profitable before any new routes are added.

“We’re certainly open to expansion — it’s just a question of funding,” spokeswoman Jen Friedberg said
A spokesman for New York Waterway touted the company’s East River Ferry service, but declined to comment on the possibility of expanding to southern Brooklyn.

Yet ferry advocates hope that Markowitz and Golden will resurrect a plan that’s been dead in the water for years.

“If you build it they will [ride],” Bay Ridge civic leader Peter Killen said. “I’m all for the city spending money to enhance [transit service].” Ferries shuttled commuters from the financial district to the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge for years, but the city suspended the route in the early 1990s, when the pier was renovated. The city later opened a ferry route (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/42/30_42ridgeferry.html) to a pier on 58th Street in Sunset Park, but shut the ferry down in less than a year — citing a lack of ridership.


February 18th, 2012, 12:24 AM
Threads merged.

February 22nd, 2012, 04:31 AM
^ Thanks, Zippy.

Is that the only reason they don't?

Apparently not, in winter at least.

Ferries Hit by Winter Chill


Officials who launched the city's East River Ferry service last summer say they always expected ridership to dip in winter, as tourists dwindled and chilly temperatures made a $4 commute across open water less appealing to locals.

[Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal]


And it dipped significantly. Average daily ridership on the ferry fell by nearly 50% from its June launch to December, according to the most recent figures available from Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

At year-end, the service averaged about 1,500 one-way rides per weekday along the ferry route, which runs between Pier 11 at Wall Street and 34th street, making stops along the shores of Brooklyn and Queens. Passengers on other New York-area private ferries and water taxis also drop in the winter, some by as much as one-third or more.

Seven months into the ferry's planned three-year trial run, overall ridership has far outpaced the city's projections. But while the sharp seasonal decline reflects how popular the ferry was with tourists and weekend travelers, it also suggests the service is still struggling to catch on with regular commuters.

Unlike other local ferries that are integral parts of the commuter network from New Jersey and Rockland County into the city, the East River operation is still serving relatively small numbers of weekday commuters.

Also unlike the others, the East River service depends on a $3.1 million annual city subsidy. By the end of the pilot project, officials will have to decide if ridership justifies making it a permanent amenity for the fast-developing Brooklyn shore.

Staff from the New York City Economic Development Corp., which hired the private carrier New York Waterway to provide the ferry service, say it has been a success.

Offsetting the decline in ridership is the benefit the ferry offers to residents, particularly in North Brooklyn, where it provides an alternative to the overcrowded L train into Manhattan, and a boon for developers hoping to entice new residents to neighborhoods along the East River.

Among the surest signals of the ferry's worth, said David Hopkins, a vice president in the EDC's maritime department, are those from businesses and developers along the shoreline, in industrial neighborhoods of North Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City, including some areas which the city rezoned in 2005 to promote residential development.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Hopkins gestured from the open-air passenger deck of a ferry at the new pier and esplanade at India Street in Greenpoint, constructed by a developer hoping to build a 40-story residential tower on an adjoining plot of land.

"He spent several million dollars and does not yet have approval to build his buildings," Mr. Hopkins said, referring to Jonathan Bernstein, the managing partner of developer Stiles Partners. Stiles received transferable building rights from its development of the piers, which will be used to win approval for the residential development, a project that has generated firm opposition from some neighbors.

Mr. Bernstein said in an interview that the ferry could boost foot traffic on the streets around his planned building and offer an alternative route to Manhattan. "It's extremely beneficial for the city," he said.

Some community leaders who support the ferry are pushing for change, especially on the all-important question of price. At $4 per ride, the East River Ferry is more expensive than the $2.25 base fare of MTA subways and buses, though cheaper than the MTA's new $5.50 express bus service.

For a daily commuter who already shells out $104 to buy a monthly MetroCard, the $140 monthly rate for the ferry would more than double the cost of getting to work, said Lincoln Restler, a Democratic district leader whose territory includes the Williamsburg and Greenpoint shore, and who has advocated for better transit connections with Manhattan.

To Mr. Restler, the eventual resolution of the ferry's price-point problem and its wintertime ridership drop-off is simple: merge it into the MTA, reducing the price for commuters and encouraging its use as a daily utility, not just a fair-weather option for days when the L train is packed or friends are in town.

"Ultimately, the rub here is the price point," Mr. Restler said in a recent interview.

Part of the challenge, midway through a largely successful first year, is reinforcing that the ferry is here to stay, said Roland Lewis, the president and CEO of the nonprofit Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.

"There is a natural rhythm," Mr. Lewis said, referring to the wintertime decline in riders. Riders will be less likely to abandon the ferry once more substantial shelters are available to shield them from the elements, he said.

"Longevity and predictability is so important," Mr. Lewis said. "We have to assure them that the ferry service will be there."
But, he added, price will matter, too.

"This cannot be viewed as a luxury for people living in high-rises," he said. "It has to be affordable to the average New Yorker."

The MTA, meanwhile, faces significant financial burdens and is unlikely to embrace responsibility for a new service. An MTA spokesman declined to comment.

These are the questions the EDC is measuring, said Mr. Hopkins, who noted that operators will conduct a survey of ferry riders this spring to determine how best to tailor the ferry to suit their needs.

Even in December, the roughly 1,500 weekday riders who used the East River Ferry make it comparable in size to some other private ferry services that operate in the waters around New York City, according to the Port Authority, including those that run from Paulus Hook on the New Jersey shoreline to Pier 11 at Wall Street, and to the World Financial Center and West 39th Street landings. But those private carriers don't operate with the same subsidy provided to the East River Ferry.

Those private carriers moved 28,000 passengers a day in 2011 between New York and commuter way points in New Jersey and Rockland County. (Those ferry numbers don't include the granddaddy of them all: the free, publicly funded Staten Island Ferry, which moves 65,000 passengers a day.)

Total ridership since the ferry began revenue service in late June is over 550,000, according to the EDC. That included total weekend ridership of more than 46,500 people in July, and strong leisure use of the ferry through this year's mild September and October, according to public figures.

Even in grayer, chillier weather, organizers say, a core group of commuters have flocked to the ferry boats, embracing the higher ticket price in exchange for a commute into Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn that is competitive on aesthetic terms—and even on timeliness--with the subway or the bus.

Ridership is "dramatically higher than anticipated," said Steven Levin, a member of the City Council who represents Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Mr. Levin was unconcerned by the seasonal dip in ridership, which he said had been anticipated.

"There were a lot of folks using it in the summer for pleasure, for leisure," Mr. Levin said. "Tourists were using it, and naturally that's going to dip in winter months."

"That was actually something that a lot of folks had seen as likely to happen, and it's understandable. I think in future years, I'm hoping, we can entice people to ride it during the winter," he said.

On a recent weekday morning, traffic was light but steady shortly after rush hour, as one of the three circulating ferries bounded uptown from Pier 11 to Brooklyn Bridge Park, under the bridge to two stops in Williamsburg before touching in Greenpoint and Long Island City. At the final stop, 34th St., under the elevated FDR Drive, a circulator bus waited to bring riders into Midtown.

Emily Elert, a freelance science writer, and a companion boarded with their bikes in downtown Brooklyn. They had ridden from their home in Crown Heights, and were each headed to jobs in Midtown. The commute is slightly shorter by water, Ms. Elert said, and slightly longer for her boyfriend. They didn't commute by ferry every day, but had grown attached to it, save the days in the end of summer and early September when the ferry was crammed with other passengers.

The couple were relieved, they said, that there was three years' of funding for the ferry in store, given the relatively empty cabin as the ferry approached 34th Street.

"When it's empty like this, I'm always looking at the faces of the workers," Ms. Elert said, "to see if they look worried."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204792404577227751763618594.html?m od=WSJ_NY_LEFTTopStories

April 27th, 2012, 05:09 AM
East River Ferry Pilot Program So Popular It Just Might Become Permanent

By Kate Schaefer

(Flickr user Dan Nguyen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zokuga/5832233019/))

The East River Ferry pilot program (http://gothamist.com/tags/eastriverferry) has been providing ferry service to waterfront neighborhoods in all five boroughs since June of 2011, and the experiment, set to run for three years, has already far exceeded the numbers projected for ridership: More than 715,000 riders have used it since the pilot began, almost double initial estimates. Now officials are deciding if, and how, to make it permanent and financially sustainable, given dramatic fluctuations in fuel costs.

Although the big ridership numbers (http://gothamist.com/2011/10/17/east_river_ferry_way_more_popular_t.php) could be partly attributed to the End of Winter, it does seem like New Yorkers are generally excited about commuting via boat. And with the rapid development of NYC's waterfront into a bourgeois residential playland, more New Yorkers are making their homes closer to the city's 520 miles of waterways. Within a half mile of the landings in Brooklyn and Queens, over 6,000 units have been built in the last three or four years, and another 2000 or so are under construction and over 20,000 additional units are planned.

Yesterday afternoon, City Council members James Vacca, Michael Nelson, and a few others held a joint hearing to learn more about the ferry. Advocates for making the ferry service permanent argue that if coordinated properly with the city's bike share program, the ferry could take more cars off the streets and ease the lives of many commuters—not just waterfront residents—who would appreciate the opportunity to get off of a crowded L train. Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, also wants commuters to have the option of paying for ferry service with their MetroCards.

Currently, if you ride the East River Ferry, which is operated by BillyBey Ferry Company, your ride is $4. If you want an unlimited monthly pass, it will cost you $140 in addition to any MetroCard fees. For now, however, you can buy tickets using credit card or cash at automated kiosks at every ferry landing. And if you want to check out the East River Ferry (http://www.nywaterway.com/erf-home.aspx) for yourself, hop on at one of the nine stops it makes in Long Island City, Green Point, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Governors Island and along the east side of Manhattan. The ferries depart every 20 minutes during peak hours, every 30 minutes during weekday off peak hours and every 45 minutes on weekends.


April 27th, 2012, 11:49 AM
That would be great. I just took it for the first time to meet a friend in Greenpoint and it's kinda awesome. Fast and a great view of the city.

May 4th, 2012, 10:55 PM
City to Launch Pilot Ferry Service to Randall's Island

By Jill Colvin

UPPER EAST SIDE — Move over Governor’s Island.

The city has inked a new deal with New York Water Taxi (http://www.nywatertaxi.com/) to bring a pilot weekend ferry service to Randall’s Island this summer in hopes of attracting new visitors, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The agreement comes less than a month before the grand re-opening on June 2 of the pedestrian bridge that connects the island to Manhattan (http://randallsisland.org/), which has been closed for construction for two years.

While the privately run New York Water Taxi has long provided ferry service to the island for special events, like Cirque Du Soleil performances and the Frieze Art Fair, this will be the first experiment with regular off-peak weekend service, parks staffers said.

City Park Administrator Aimee Boden said she hoped the service will encourage people who live in the neighborhood to finally discover the island, just a five-minute ride from the Upper East Side.

"I really hope it will help to bring them to the island to experience it firsthand," said Boden, who said the trial will help determine whether there is enough interest and traffic for a permanent ferry service to Randall's Island, which is lined with bike paths, sports fields and a network of pedestrian walkways that skirt the water’s edge.

“It’s remarkable. It’s like nowhere else,” raved Boden, adding that the city will be consulting with local residents and area community boards to determine exactly which weekends the service will run.

While details are still being finalized, she said the new ferry will likely leave from the East 90th Street pier, near Carl Schurz Park. Special-event service with continue to operate from Midtown’s busy East 35th Street pier, she said.

Fares are still being negotiated, but the company's service to IKEA costs $5 on weekdays and is free on the weekends.

According to a notice in the City Record, New York Water Taxi paid the city $136,000 for the six-year contract for the special events and trial service.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120503/upper-east-side/city-launch-pilot-ferry-service-randalls-island?utm_content=sara%40curbed.com&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=City%20to%20Launch%20Pilot%20Ferry%20Serv ice%20to%20Randall%27s%20Island&utm_campaign=City%20to%20Launch%20Pilot%20Ferry%20 Service%20to%20Randall%27s%20Islandcontent#ixzz1tx aQVFs4

December 21st, 2012, 06:33 AM
Pleased by Ridership, City Looks for Bids to Bolster East River Ferry Success

Uli Seit for The New York Times

The New York City Economic Development Corporation intends on Thursday to start seeking bids from ferry operators interested in running the service and possibly expanding its operations beyond the seven landings it regularly makes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The city has been subsidizing the service as a pilot project (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/nyregion/east-river-ferry-service-begins-with-7-stops.html) since June 2011, at a cost of about $3 million per year. But ridership has easily exceeded projections (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/nyregion/east-river-ferry-service-exceeds-expectations.html), leading city officials to believe that they may be able to reduce the subsidy significantly.

Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the development corporation, said the city had anticipated 1.3 million passengers during the three-year pilot, but the actual ridership had already surpassed 1.6 million. “As it turns out, our expectations weren’t matched; in reality, they were exceeded,” Mr. Pinsky said.

The ferry service, which charges $4 for a one-way ticket, has been popular with tourists and weekend shoppers. But a vast majority of the riders (85 percent) are city residents, and at least two-thirds use the ferries to commute to work, according to surveys conducted for the city.

Though reducing the subsidy could cause operators to demand higher fares, Christine C. Quinn, the speaker of the City Council, said she did not want to see that happen. She said she hoped that there would not be a fare increase commensurate with the one now pending for the subway system. A single-ride subway fare will go up about 11 percent, to $2.50 from $2.25.

“I think if the ferry fare goes higher, we lose ridership,” said Ms. Quinn, who has been one of the biggest champions of the East River service. She said in a phone interview on Wednesday that it was important to consider that effect (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/nyregion/east-river-ferry-service-hopes-lovely-commute-brings-it-self-reliance.html) while trying to build a “new type of transportation system” that is both environmentally friendly and affordable.

“New Yorkers are ready for ferry service as an integrated part of their commute, not just as a lark when the weather’s nice,” Ms. Quinn said.

Mr. Pinsky said the request for proposals would seek to determine how long a contract ferry operators would be willing to enter into, how much of a subsidy they would demand and whether they would expand the service. Ms. Quinn often speaks of her goal of establishing “five-borough ferry service,” but a new East River contract is unlikely to bring the idea to fruition.

Staten Island, of course, already has its own ferry link to Manhattan. But there is no Manhattan boat service to and from the Bronx, and even Ms. Quinn admits that there is no viable plan for including the borough yet.

Still, she is holding on to the dream: “I love a five-borough ferry,” she said.


December 28th, 2012, 06:00 AM

East River Ferry Service to Stay Afloat Through 2019

By Jeanmarie Evelly


HUNTERS POINT — The East River Ferry (http://www.nywaterway.com/ERF-Home.aspx), which chauffeurs residents from the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront to Manhattan, will keep running until at least 2019, city officials said.

Originally started as a three-year pilot project, the city's Economic Development Corporation is looking for an operator (http://www.nycedc.com/press-release/mayor-bloomberg-and-speaker-quinn-announce-city-seeking-long-term-extension-successful) to run the popular ferry service for five more years, noting that more than 1.6 million passengers have ridden the ferry since it launched in June 2011.

"The East River Ferry has quickly become an integral piece of the city’s transportation network, far surpassing ridership projections for its initial three-year pilot service," EDC president Seth Pinsky said in a statement, adding that the ferry is a "catalyst for economic development in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.”

The East River Ferry shuttles riders from Long Island City and Brooklyn to Midtown and lower Manhattan for $4 one-way, or $140 for an unlimited monthly pass.

"I go to the riverside and hop on the ferry, and in 5 to 10 minutes, you're there," said Wendy Khan, 35, who said she takes the boat about five days a week to get from her home in Long Island City to Midtown.

The water route is preferable to some Queens residents who've been plagued by ongoing service disruptions on the 7 train this year. (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121218/long-island-city/7-train-weekend-service-long-island-city-be-suspended-for-months?cluster_id=177957&index=8&group_hood_id=73085)

"It's much better — you're outside, and you have a nice view," Khan said.

The EDC will be accepting applications from potential operators until March 1, according to a request for proposals issued last week. The new operator would get a contract to run the service for five years. The current contract is with BillyBey Ferry Co. and expires in June of 2014. NY Waterway currently operates the route for BillyBey.

In a statement, the EDC said it is looking for contractors that can maintain the ferry's current level of service "while significantly reducing or eliminating the need for public operating assistance." The city now spends $3 million a year to subsidize the route.

The EDC said potential applicants also have the opportunity to expand the service, either by adding more service hours or more pickup locations.

Launched in 2011 (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20110518/murray-hill-gramercy/new-east-river-ferry-service-gearing-up-for-june), the East River Ferry stops at seven spots, plus Governors Island during the summer months. City officials said ridership during the summer of 2012 increased by nearly 40 percent compared to the summer before. The ferry celebrated its millionth customer in July. (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120716/williamsburg/east-river-ferry-sails-past-1m-passenger-milestone)

The ferry was also a vital link in getting residents to work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy this fall, elected officials said, reopening in the days after the storm while much of the city's subway lines were still crippled. (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121031/new-york-city/nightmare-commute-as-new-yorkers-head-back-work-after-hurricane-sandy)

Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said keeping the ferry in operation is important, as the city looks for new ways to expand its transportation network, which proved its vulnerability during the storm.

“By enhancing the East River Ferry service our city is only building upon an increasingly popular mode of alternative transportation New Yorkers have come to embrace — and love,” he said in a statement.


January 3rd, 2013, 10:32 AM
The ferry is nice if you live close to the water, otherwise it's pretty inconvenient to get to for regular travel

January 3rd, 2013, 11:26 AM
From the Brooklyn side, it is likely that many people drive to the landing.

January 3rd, 2013, 11:34 AM
I use it to go from Long Island City to the Brooklyn Bridge park area on some Sundays. They have a parking lot by the ferry stop that charges $5, but it's pointless with plenty of free weekend parking on the desolate industrial streets

December 15th, 2013, 01:02 AM
Same headline as this time last year.

East River Ferry service extended until 2019
by Andrew J. Hawkins

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20131213/BLOGS04/131219947/AR/0/AR-131219947.jpg&q=80&MaxW=640&imageversion=widescreen&maxh=360 (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CN/20131213/BLOGS04/131219947/AR/0/AR-131219947.jpg?q=100)
NY Waterway ferries will continue to transport East River commuters under a new deal with the city.
Photo: Buck Ennis

For the city's maritime commuters, it’s a ferry tale come true.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg today will announce a five-year extension of the East River ferry service, which was launched as a pilot project in June 2011 at a cost of about $3 million per year in city subsidies, and had been set to expire in June 2014.

Reached by phone Thursday, Paul Goodman, CEO of NY Waterway, which operates the ferry service, confirmed the five-year extension before directing The Insider to his firm’s spokesman, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

The extension comes with a few caveats. Fares for weekend service will increase to $6 from $4. Winter weekend service will decrease as well. Currently, 149 passenger vessels operate during peak hours, which is defined as weekdays from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Last year, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that the ferries could lose ridership if fares were increased. But in a statement to The Insider, she declined to address that issue.

"I’m thrilled that the East River ferry will continue to provide millions of commuters with a fast, green way to navigate our City’s waterfront communities,” said Ms. Quinn. “I thank Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for working with the Council to make the East River Ferry a tremendous success and for ensuring its continued future in our city."

The city’s Economic Development Corporation began seeking bids to extend service (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/nyregion/new-york-city-seeks-bids-to-bolster-east-river-ferry-success.html) last December after initial reports revealed that traffic on the ferries was vastly exceeding expectations, especially after Superstorm Sandy sidelined the subway system. The number of riders were twice what was projected, and weekend ferries had to turn some passengers away because of increased demand.

On Friday, Mr. Bloomberg will announce that ferry ridership has tripled since 2011. Service has been popular in areas like north Brooklyn, where subway service is distant or limited, and waterfront apartment towers have been built. Ferry supporters have also cited occasional shutdowns of the subway system as a rationale for the boats.

Roland Lewis, CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, says the extension of service for five years speaks well to the city’s commitment to ferries as an alternate means of transportation. But that was not always the case, he said.

“The city, since the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, refused to subsidize ferry service,” Mr. Lewis said. “We crossed the line with the first pilot and it was great. And now this is a recognition of the utility and worth of waterborne transit.”


December 16th, 2013, 11:51 PM
That ferry ain't on the East River ...

December 17th, 2013, 12:16 AM
It is on the East River route if it's going from Governor's Island (seasonal) to Wall Street

January 9th, 2014, 02:30 AM
City Eyes $10M-a-Year East River Ferry Expansion

By Heather Holland

MANHATTAN — New stops could be on the way for the East River Ferry (http://www.eastriverferry.com/) — but only if the city or a private ferry company is willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to get the new routes up and running, according to a new report.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation released a preliminary Citywide Ferry Study this week suggesting 11 new stops along five additional ferry routes, including East 23rd Street and Grand Street in Manhattan, Astoria in Queens and St. George on Staten Island.

"The study has focused on identifying the most promising potential routes, but these routes require considerable capital and operating subsidies," the 115-page report states.

"An extended network including the East River Ferry [and new routes] would be estimated to require an annual subsidy for weekday service of close to $10 million."

In addition to costing $10 million a year to run, the 11 new stops would also require an $80 million capital investment to build docking stations, including barges, ticketing machines, benches and bike racks, the report found.

The EDC initially considered 58 potential new ferry stops, including some based on suggestions from the community, but decided that just 11 spots were viable: Van Brunt Street in Red Hook; Bay Ridge; Astoria Cove; Roosevelt Island South; Long Island City North, Soundview in The Bronx; East 62nd Street; East 23rd Street; Grand Street; St. George on Staten Island and Beach 108th/116th Street in Queens, according to the report.

The EDC is also looking into ways to bring ferry service to LaGuardia Airport, either through Bowery Bay or Flushing Bay in Queens. It was not immediately clear how much the LaGuardia route would cost.

Each route would require three to four boats during peak periods. The subsidy estimate is designed to keep the fare cost at no more than $5, the report said.

The next step for the expanded ferry service would be for elected officials, private ferry companies and the community to begin discussing the routes and how to pay for them, the EDC stated in the report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on increased ferry service.

In December, the city announced that it had extended its East River Ferry contract until 2019 (http://www.nycedc.com/press-release/mayor-bloomberg-announces-extension-east-river-ferry-service-through-least-2019). The service was initially designed as a three-year pilot slated to end in June 2014.

The East River Ferry currently shuttles riders from Long Island City and Brooklyn to Midtown and Lower Manhattan for $4 one way, or $140 for an unlimited monthly pass. The city spends about $3 million per year to subsidize the route.


March 15th, 2014, 02:35 AM
Despite the issues, I still think it's a shame that this mode of transport has not been embraced more.

Completely different cities and therefore no comparison, of course, but I've often thought the same thing about Perth. We have only one ferry route.

Unless you're lucky enough to have a bus stop right outside your front door, most people are going to have to walk/travel a certain distance to get to a bus stop/subway station/ferry terminal.

Thoughts on the political popularity of ferries

By Benjamin Kabak

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3610/5737508865_14c168f8cb_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastriverferry/5737508865/in/photostream/)
More ferry terminals may pop up around the water, but to what end? (Photo by East River Ferry (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastriverferry/) on flickr)

Whether we recognize it or not, New York City is facing something of a transportation crisis. The problem itself won’t come to a true head for a while, but outside of a few avenues, our current transit options are nearly maxed out (http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2014/03/getting-into-manhattan.html). Our roads are continually congested, and without significant expansion, the subway system can’t withstand too many more trains — or passengers — per hour during peak times. Buses and a real bus rapid transit network could pick up some slack, but lately the focus has turned to the city’s myriad waterways.

For much of the 2013 mayoral campaign, we heard candidates from various parties talk endlessly about the opportunities for expanded ferry service. It sounds good, right? These are politicians actually promoting increased transit, and at a time when subway construction is exceedingly expensive and no one at the MTA is willing to try to rein in those costs, sticking some boats on the water seems downright economically responsible. It is but a political smoke screen as well, and I’ll get to that shortly.

Lately, the jockeying for ferries has come from the local level. Ydanis Rodriguez, the new chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, has been agitating for more ferry service for his constituents even though most of them live on a bluff high above the nearest coast. Now, Queens reps are calling for more ferry service too (http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/commuting-on-the-boro-s-rivers-and-bays/article_ca2034a3-5ad5-599e-8a16-4ea07380de3a.html). The Queens Chronicle reports:

The words “commute” and “New York City” usually make one think of squeaky, dirty, crowded subway cars snaking through tunnels and along elevated rails. Or perhaps one conjures up thoughts of passengers packed into buses like sardines or jockeying for room under bus shelters. Some, especially out here in Queens, may think of a commute as idling on a packed highway in a car. One thing that most New Yorkers may not think of — unless maybe you’re from Staten Island — is boats…

The expansion of ferry service to the East River in 2011, connecting Wall Street and East 34th Street with Brooklyn and Long Island City, has also proved successful, as has a route to the Rockaways that was originally meant to be temporary. Now ferry advocates — and elected officials — are looking to expand service to other parts of Queens with waterfront connections.

…Already expansion beyond Long Island City and Rockaway may be imminent. According to one source, expansion of the East River ferry to Astoria is “more than likely,” and former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. allocated money toward a feasibility study. Vallone’s successor, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), said bringing ferry service farther north to Astoria would be a boon for the Western Queens waterfront, especially if they add a stop on Roosevelt Island, where a tech school is slated to be located. “We can find the money for this worthwhile cause,” said Constantinides, a member of the Council’s Transportation Committee. He pointed to Hallets Cove as a location for a ferry, noting the amount of development taking place there and the need for more public transportation.

Throughout the article, Queens politicians and ferry advocates discuss the success of the Rockaway boats and potential landing spots in College Point, Willets Point, Fort Totten or downtown Flushing. One quote in particular sums up the thinking. “We’re on the right path with expanding bus rapid transit and bike lines and now with ferries,” Constantinides said. “We’re not building any more subways. Better utilizing the city’s waterways is the new frontier.”

I have such major issues with this defeatist attitude toward subway construction. We’re giving up because politicians aren’t strong enough to fight back against rampant cost issues or, in the case of Constantinides’ own district, intense NIMBY opposition to a plan that would have brought the subway to Laguardia Airport. We can’t throw in the towel on future subway construction and expect New York to be able to grow. Ferries won’t cut it.

Meanwhile, the comments and coverage concerning ferries fail to make note of the issues of scale. The Rockaway ferry may be a success, but that’s with ridership of 700 per day. One peak-hour subway carries at least twice, and sometimes three times, that amount from Queens or Brooklyn into Manhattan. Ferries can help out around the edges; they can’t affect transformative change or do much to alleviate the transit capacity problems plaguing New York.

The single biggest issue with any New York City ferry network concerns population patterns. New York of the 20th century built inland and, thanks to Robert Moses, rung its waterways with roads. Not too many people live near potential ferry terminals, and not too many work near them either. So a ferry network also involves getting people to and from the terminals, and with fares not unified, such a setup currently involves a steep added cost per day. Most New Yorkers would rather take a crowded train than add $3-$5 per day to their commuting costs.

Furthermore, nearly every place in New York City that is well suited for ferry service already has it. The East River ferries offer relatively quick commutes to areas where people work. Many of the folks who live in uber-expensive waterfront condos in DUMBO, Williamsburg and Long Island City work near Wall Street. Travel patterns shift as one moves further east in Brooklyn and Queens.

But there are political forces at work here that account for the popularity of the boat movement. First, there are no NIMBYs to battle. Some people may object to a nearby ferry terminal and the noise from the boats, but it doesn’t engender the same level of protest that a new subway line or removing a lane of automobile traffic for bus rapid transit would. Second, the costs of starting a ferry line are relatively low and turnaround time is short. Thus, a politician can propose a ferry route, secure funding and attend a ribbon-cutting in a single term while proclaiming to be pro transit. Never mind the fact that, at most, a wildly successful ferry with 4000 daily riders services half of one-tenth of a percent of all New Yorkers. It’s an easy political win.

So we’re stuck in a boat rut. It may make limited sense to examine some ferry routes, but the most they can do is shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic that is the subway system. Without high-capacity expansion, trains will be more crowded than ever before, and New York City will face growth constraints. It would take real leadership to tackle this problem; the ferries are simply a smokescreen.


February 4th, 2015, 03:13 AM
Suggestion to Mods:

Could the title of this thread be modified to make it for all ferries?

All Five Boroughs May Get Affordable Ferry Service

February 3, 2015, by Zoe Rosenberg

http://cdn.cstatic.net/gridnailer/500x/http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54d13d9df92ea168b30072b0/4780899692_3d9116a685_z.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/54d13d9df92ea168b30072b0/4780899692_3d9116a685_z.jpg)
[Curbed Flickr Pool / hoyachicknyc (https://www.flickr.com/photos/41923316@N03/)]

This morning Mayor de Blasio delivered his annual State of the City address, and amongst the barrage of information (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/03/de_blasio_to_roll_out_new_affordable_housing_strat egies.php) he laid on the table was an announcement that the city will dramatically increase its ferry service by 2017. Although the move may seem contrary to the city's earlier attitude against ferries—they did suspend Rockaway Ferry service practically overnight (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150203/rockaway-beach/mayor-announce-new-ferry-routes-state-of-city-speech-sources), after all—DNAinfo reports (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150203/rockaway-beach/mayor-announce-new-ferry-routes-state-of-city-speech-sources) that the decision to subsidize the waterborne transportation method comes from a need to expand beyond the subways as New York's population grows. In addition to routes from Rockaway, service will expand to include Astoria, Long Island City, Red Hook, Brooklyn Army Terminal, the Lower East Side and Soundview in the Bronx. While the expanded service is exciting, its also really, really exciting that rides will cost as much as a trip on the subway.

Not everyone is pro-ferry though. StreetsBlog, which thinks about transportation pretty much all day, thinks increasing bus rapid transit (http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/02/03/bus-rapid-transit-not-ferry-subsidies-would-help-struggling-new-yorkers/) would be a lot more beneficial to the city than expanded ferry service.

Proposed Routes for NYC's Expanded Ferry Service. (https://www.scribd.com/doc/254611698/Proposed-Routes-for-NYC-s-Expanded-Ferry-Service) by DNAinfoNewYork (https://www.scribd.com/DNAinfoNewYork)

New Ferries Coming to Rockaway, Astoria, The Bronx, LES and Brooklyn (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150203/rockaway-beach/mayor-announce-new-ferry-routes-state-of-city-speech-sources) [DNA]
$200 Million From the City to Develop...New Ferries... (http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/wordpress/2015/02/03/200-million-from-city-to-develop-special-harlem-river-waterfront-district-new-ferries-priced-as-same-as-a-subway-fare-gentrification/) [W2tB]
Bus Rapid Transit, Not Ferry Subsidies, Would Help Struggling New Yorkers (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/03/Bus%20Rapid%20Transit,%20Not%20Ferry%20Subsidies,% 20Would%20Help%20Struggling%20New%20Yorkers) [SB]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/03/all_five_boroughs_may_get_affordable_ferry_service .php

February 5th, 2015, 12:23 AM
Ferry service only works for people who live and work near the waterfront. I do, and let me tell you it's the only way to chose to get to Greenpoint from Manhattan. Still it will require quite a subsidy, especially if they want it to cost the same as a MetroCard (though by 2017 it might be closer to $4 anyway). It's just one of those Catch 22s of urban transportation.

February 5th, 2015, 08:25 AM
Even with a hefty subsidy, a metrocard fare for ferry service has to be doubled for a passenger not commuting within walking distance of the ferry stop. They need to pay for the ferry and then for the bus/subway. The dream for commuters is free transfers from ferries to buses & subways, which also happens to be the nightmare for taxpayers

March 17th, 2015, 10:13 AM
Venice on the East River

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's upstream battle for citywide ferry service.

by Henry Melcher

Juha Uitto / Flickr

Before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his second State of the City address, it was widely expected that he would focus the address almost entirely on housing policy. He did speak at length about his ambitious plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade. But it was a major transportation policy unveiled near the end of the address that surprised onlookers and made headlines.

“Transportation is central to the mission of providing affordable housing and services—connecting neighborhoods in the five boroughs to New York’s largest job centers,” said the mayor. Building these connections, he continued, could be achieved by taking advantage of the water with a five-borough ferry system.

This system would launch in 2017 with routes that connect Manhattan to Queens, South Brooklyn, and the Rockaways. The following year, ferries would run along Manhattan’s Lower East Side and between Manhattan and Soundview in the Bronx. Another route connecting Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Financial District is still in the planning stages. The administration has said that work is slated to begin this year on the $55 million process of designing and building the system’s docks; the city will also select private ferry operators to run the service. When completed, the ferries will accommodate 4.6 million trips a year, according to the mayor’s office.

Like many of de Blasio’s urbanism proposals, this one was born under his predecessor. In 2008, Michael Bloomberg worked with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to create a framework for a citywide ferry network that includes many of the sites seen in de Blasio’s plan. The Bloomberg administration ultimately only moved forward with the East River Ferry. That service launched in 2011 as a pilot program and has been providing service between Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City for $4 a ride ever since. The ferry has been hugely popular, but still requires a significant subsidy—$2.22 per trip, according to a 2013 study commissioned by the EDC. (For comparison, there is a $0.62 subsidy for each subway ride.)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/Ferry-Map.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/Ferry-Map.jpg)

The proposed system could launch in 2017 with routes connecting Manhattan to Queens, South Brooklyn, and the Rockaways.
Courtesy Office of the Mayor of New York City

The de Blasio administration has said the new system would require between $10 million and $20 million in annual subsidies and that a ferry ride would cost as much as taking the subway or bus. Critics of the mayor’s plan say that the city’s money would be better spent on other transit programs like bus rapid transit that could reach lower-income New Yorkers who do not live near the water. (In his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio also pledged to complete an additional 13 BRT lines.)

Creating and sustaining a viable city-wide ferry system—even with considerable subsidies baked in—will not be easy to pull off, said Jeff Zupan, a senior fellow at the Regional Planning Association who has been studying New York City ferries for decades. In that time, he has seen plenty of ferry attempts fail. Just last fall, the de Blasio administration discontinued ferry service to the Rockaways that was set up after Superstorm Sandy because it was costing the city about $30 a passenger.

Zupan is skeptical that the new Rockaway iteration—or any of de Blasio’s planned routes for that matter—will fare much better. To be successful, he explained, ferries must provide a quick and efficient ride between people’s home and office. This is most feasible when ferries run between densely populated areas (think Hoboken to Lower Manhattan) where it is easy to get to and from a dock and then onto a final destination. Short distances also make matters easier because riders are enticed with a faster trip and ferry operators can run fewer boats while still maintaining frequent and reliable service. Many of de Blasio’s proposed routes do not have this built-in advantage.

“They are not all going to be dogs,” said Zupan referring to de Blaiso’s planned routes, “but they do not have all the features you want to look for. If they had all the features, these would have been done long ago because these ideas have been around for a long time.”

But Zupan noted that the resurgent waterfront, with apartment towers sprouting up one after the other, has buoyed the mayor’s plan. The glossy buildings may offer great views, but are typically a hike from transit options. Citywide ferries could be a major boon to developers already eager to build near the water. The mayor’s office did not respond to AN’s question about whether it would ask developers to contribute funds for the ferry system.

Ultimately, the mayor’s five-borough plan is a kit of parts with only some routes seeming positioned to succeed. But what will happen to some, or all, of the ferries cannot be known until the boats hit the water. “You can never really know until you try it,” said Zupan.