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Thread: New York Water Taxi Ferries

  1. #31
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    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.

  2. #32


    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."

  3. #33


    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

  4. #34


    New York Daily News -
    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."

  5. #35


    4 to 6 dollars isnt bad, Id rather take the water cab othe rthan the subway, but it may be slow ? :?

  6. #36


    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

  7. #37


    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

  8. #38


    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 will be complete soon. A major flaw is that the nearest subway is on 8th Ave.

  9. #39


    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

  10. #40


    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

  11. #41


    New York Waterway Begins Eliminating Ferry Routes

    DECEMBER 01ST, 2004


    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.

  12. #42
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Any word of whether Seastreak or NY Water Taxi will take over those routes?
    Last edited by TLOZ Link5; February 15th, 2005 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Spelling.

  13. #43


    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

  14. #44


    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.

  15. #45


    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

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