FERRY OPERATORS IN A
by John Snyder (Senior Editor)
Just before Christmas, Congress approved an $11 billion aid package to help New York City recover from the World Trade Center attacks. It includes $100 million for "critical expansion of interstate ferry services necessitated by the attacks of
Even before the possibility of this extra fiscal stimulus, the New York ferry scene was red hot.
Things are percolating. Thats how John Koenig describes the post-9/11 passenger ferry market in New York City. Koenig should know. Hes the president of New York Fast Ferry, one of several metropolitan area operators that have either added new routes, boats or both since the attacks on the World Trade Center.
This winters flurry of activity by the citys public and private operators will result in the construction of possibly a dozen new boats, ranging from the traditional (three steel-hulled, double-ender ferries for New York Citys Department of Transportation) to the technological (a sleek 42-knot, all-aluminum waterjet-propelled catamaran for Seastreak America).
While plans for most of these ferries were in the pipeline prior to 9/11, the timing for new capacity couldnt be better. With restrictions still in place on some roadways, bridges and tunnels, Manhattan commuters have sought out friendlier travel alternatives. One of those has been the ferry. More than 130,000 commuters travel by ferry daily. The citys largest private ferry operator, Weehawken, N.J.-based NY Waterway, for instance, has seen the biggest passenger surge, with daily ridership jumping from 34,000 to more than 60,000. At one time, NY Waterway had chartered 11 additional boats, from Cape Cod whale watchers to Fire Island ferries to handle the surge. This month, NY Waterway will take delivery of last three of four speedy 64 ft catamarans from Allen Marine, Sitka, Alaska, to bolster its North Jersey fleet (see sidebar on p. 27).
Central New Jersey-based operators, like Koenigs New York Fast Ferry (NYFF), Highlands, N.J., have seen increases of as much as 20% in ridership. Weve seen some real fluctuations in passenger traffic, he says.
Weve chartered two boats, the Voyager III and Friendship IV, for our new Keyport (N.J.) commuter run. NYFF is using the 30-knot Friendship IV, chartered from Bay State Cruises, and the Voyager III, chartered from New England Aquarium, for the 50-minute commuter run to Manhattan. Both cats were built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, Mass.
NYFF teamed with Derecktor Shipyard to complete the specs for a new high-speed ferry for the Keyport service. Koenig expects to order the 275-passenger boat early this year.