October 14, 2003

NY Waterway installs GPS-based tracking system

NY Waterway has completed installation of a $1 million global positioning system (GPS) based system that allows the company to track instantly and continuously the location and speed of all ferries and buses, President Arthur E. Imperatore, Jr., announced today.

"This global positioning system has profound implications for the mass transit industry. It allows NY Waterway to further improve customer service, better coordinating the arrival of ferries and buses, and to better control ferry operations and reduce wake impacts so we can continue to be a good neighbor on the water," Imperatore said.

On the ferry side, the system allows NY Waterway to keep ferries out of wake sensitive areas. Pilots and the command center have computer generated maps showing these areas and the location of all ferries.

If a ferry crosses into a "no-go" area, an alarm sounds in the pilot house and the command center instantly contacts the pilot. The data system also records the incident, including the name of the pilot, so there is real time accountability. The same system helps keep ferries to a prescribed 6 knots in low-wake areas.

Basically, NY Waterway has defined 1,000-foot wide "no-go" areas along the New Jersey and New York shorelines, leaving the ferries to operate in a 1,000-foot wide channel in mid-river. Ferries only move out of mid-river when they must avoid large ships or tugboat/barge combinations.

Narrow corridors leading from mid-river to ferry terminals are marked as "go-slow" areas, with speeds limited to six knots.

Most NY Waterway ferries are custom designed to minimize wake impacts.

After September 11, 2001, NY Waterway was forced to charter several boats for emergency ferry service. These chartered boats do not have the low-wake catamaran hulls and planing hulls utilized in NY Waterway’s own ferries.

With the restoration of full PATH subway service expected in November, NY Waterway can end the use of the charter boats, Imperatore said, leaving it with what it says is "the most modern fleet of low-wake, low-emission, handicapped accessible ferries operating in the U.S."

"This modern fleet, combined with the GPS, represents a substantial commitment by NY Waterway to provide the safest, most convenient, most environmentally-friendly mass transit service in the region," Imperatore added.

The new GPS-based system also feeds arrival and departure times directly to customer service representatives and will be linked to display screens at ferry terminals and to the NY Waterway website so commuters can plan their trip before they leave home or office and receive real time schedule information at all times.

It also tracks engine performance and fuel consumption.

On the bus side, the system allows NY Waterway to more closely coordinate the ferry/bus link at Manhattan’s West 38th Street and other terminals and to more quickly adjust to changing traffic conditions. Because of better control, NY Waterway was able to reduce from 58 to 52 the number of buses serving West 38th Street in morning rush hour with no impact on customer service

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