FERRY OPERATORS IN A
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

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
September 11."

Even before the possibility of this extra fiscal stimulus, the New York ferry scene was red hot.

““Things are percolating.” That’s how John Koenig describes the post-9/11 passenger ferry market in New York City. Koenig should know. He’s 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 winter’s flurry of activity by the city’s 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 City’s Department of Transportation) to the technological (a sleek 42-knot, all-aluminum waterjet-propelled catamaran for Seastreak America).

Operator Route Type Pax Shipyard Del.
Fire Island Ferries Bayshore-Fire Island 85 ft aluminum monohull 12 (cert. 149) Derecktor Connecticut 5/02
NY Fast Ferry N. J.-Manhattan aluminum catamaran ~275 Derecktor Shipyard 2002
NY Waterway N. J.-Manhattan 64 ft aluminum catamaran 97 Allen Marine 12/01
NY Waterway N. J.-Manhattan 64 ft aluminum catamaran 97 Allen Marine 1/02
NY Waterway N. J.-Manhattan 64 ft aluminum catamaran 97 Allen Marine 1/02
NY Waterway N. J.-Manhattan 64 ft aluminum catamaran 97 Allen Marine 2/02
NYDoT Staten Isl.-Manhattan (3) 310 ft pax car ferries 4,400 Marinette Marine 2003
Seastreak America N. J.-Manhattan 141 ft aluminum catamaran 405 Gladding-Hearn 12/01
Seastreak America N. J.-Manhattan 141 ft aluminum catamaran 405 Gladding-Hearn 2002
South Ferry North Haven-Shelter Isl. 101 ft steel double ender 149 Blount Barker Shipyard 6/02

While plans for most of these ferries were in the pipeline prior to 9/11, the timing for new capacity couldn’t 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 city’s 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 Koenig’s New York Fast Ferry (NYFF), Highlands, N.J., have seen increases of as much as 20% in ridership. “We’ve seen some real fluctuations in passenger traffic,” he says.

“We’ve 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.
Between its Highland and Keyport services, NYFF now transports 2,000 commuters daily.
Also in the works are new fast ferry routes from Perth Amboy, N.J., and Stamford, Conn. However, plans for the Stamford service, with stops at LaGuardia Airport and Manhattan, are currently tied up by litigation.

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