Oct
10

City Council approves more frequent SI Ferry service

By · Published in 2013

Some Staten Island Ferry boats will soon run every 30 minutes throughout the day.

After reading coverage of Wednesday’s City Council vote to increase overnight Staten Island ferry service, I’m beginning to believe that mentioning the potential 59-minute wait for a boat as a Staten Island rite of passage is required by law. So here you go: It is a rite of passage for Staten Islanders to mistime their arrival at Whitehall St., miss a boat and be stuck waiting around for an hour in a rather drab ferry terminal as 1 a.m. slowly turns into 2 a.m. Not any longer.

In what I believe was a unanimous vote, the City Council approved a measure to increase ferry service such that boats will leave no less frequently than every 30 minutes throughout the day. The new law contains phased implementation. Until May 1, 2015, ferries must run at least every 30 minutes until 2 a.m., and after May 1, 2015, service throughout the night must be on half-hour intervals. The law is set to take effect immediately, but the Mayor may not sign it immediately. Though the bill has enough votes to override a Bloomberg veto, it will likely be up to his success to implement — and pay for — the new service.

There is an out as well though in that if DOT and the mayor determine that “it is not economically feasible to fully expand service,” the city can issue a report explaining why they aren’t expanding all service and must reassess the decision every two years. Such a review will have to include ridership figures, economic development and population changes, and plans for future expansion of ferry service. It’s an intriguing loophole that relies on an interpretation of “feasible” that remains hazy. Considering the ferries are subsidized entirely by the city, what does “economically feasible” even mean in this situation?

SI politicians began to praise the move a few days ago when it became clear the measure would pass. “I think it is a very powerful message to send to the residents, the commuters and the potential investors in the North Shore — that it’s open for business and that there is a consistent means of transportation,” Council member James Oddo said.

Debi Rose compared the situation to waiting for a subway. “I am so excited that this long-awaited legislation is moving forward. This bill is about basic fairness — waiting an hour or more for the ferry at night and on weekends is an unacceptable situation which is not tolerated in any other borough,” the North Shore representative said.

Now, it’s all well and good to expand ferry service, and it’s a noble gesture. Does it make sense? City officials estimated that the full overnight service could cost $15 million per year more, bringing the total cost to run the ferry to $115 million. Meanwhile, an Independent Budget Office analysis earlier this year called for an end to overnight ferry service entirely. On a typical weekday, just 2-3 percent of the daily 61,000 riders use the ferry between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and the smallest boats fit over 1100 people with nine crew members. Replacing these ferries with express buses would save the city around $4 million. Economically feasible indeed.

Meanwhile, I still wonder about the wisdom of a free ferry ride. It’s possible to get from a home near St. George to a job on Wall St. without paying a dime whereas anyone traveling via subway between boroughs has to pay a fare. Is there a way to capture some fare revenue on the Staten Island ferry while ensuring that daily commuters don’t suffer through a two-fare trip? It’s an operational challenge that isn’t impossible to overcome, and the revenue from, say, tourists or other non-regular riders could offset the costs of an increasingly expensive service. It’s also a political non-starter amongst a particularly prickly group of politicians.



Categories : Staten Island

121 Responses to “City Council approves more frequent SI Ferry service”

  1. Berk32 says:

    Here’s an easy answer…

    Since the City isn’t collecting any $ from it – install MTA collection at each terminal.

    Daily commuters who regularly use the subway afterwards can just use their regular monthly cards.

    Some others will no longer be getting a free ride to work downtown.

    And tourists will no longer get a free ride around the Harbor…

    Win Win…

    (yes I know there are plenty of bureaucracy BS issues that would have to be worked out….)

  2. Berk32 says:

    o – and Joe Lhota promises a way for the City to contribute more to the MTA…. well here it is!

    • Lady Feliz says:

      The MTA doesn’t run the SI Ferry, the NYC Dept of Transportation does. As far as installing subway turnstiles, most subway/bus riders use unlimited Metrocards, so how exactly will collecting “fares” on the ferry increase revenue?

      • Berk32 says:

        I know the MTA doesnt run the Ferry….

        And.. well.. clearly you didn’t read the whole thing…

        • Lady Feliz says:

          I read your comment. Tourists and most Staten Islanders also use weekly/monthly unlimited cards. So again i ask the question, how will installing turnstiles increase revenue? There are maybe 25 people who live in St. George and work downtown, so maybe the MTA will collect an extra $50-$100 a day more than they do now. Not exactly a windfall, is it?

          • Berk32 says:

            It wouldn’t hurt….

            And it would be much more than $50-100 a day…

          • Phantom says:

            Lady Feliz

            There are only 25 people from St George who work downtown? Really? Where did that number come from? The entire neighborhood is unemployed?

            The financial district is a huge source of employment. There are more than 25 deadbeats commuting for free for life there.

            Come on.

            • Lady Feliz says:

              Ever been to St. George phantom? It’s Staten Island’s administrative center (Borough Hall, Courthouse, etc). Outside of a few condos/rentals on Bay Street and Hamilton Avenue, there’s very few residences within walking distance. I know because I am of them. And almost all my friends/neighbors who work in Manhattan (myself included) don’t work within walking distance of Whitehall Terminal, so we all have unlimited Metrocards.

              If you’re thinking that the DOT/MTA will get some kind of windfall by capturing fares from ferry riders who live and work within walking distance of the ferry, think again.

              • Lady Feliz says:

                FYI, out of a population of 470,000 Islanders, there are approximately 9200 residents of St. George/Tompkinsville/New Brighton (2010 Census). This includes an area as far from the ferry as Jersey Street and Victory Blvd, not exactly a stone’s throw away from the ferry terminal. Of these 9200 residents, approximately 25% work/commute to Manhattan via ferry daily. So we’re talking 1800 residents who work/commute to all parts of Manhattan (not just downtown) via ferry daily. Now I don’t know the exact number of people who live on Jersey Street and work on Wall Street, but my common sense tells me it’s roughly about zero. Take a walk around St. George one day and tell me why a Wall Street banker or Worth Street lawyer would live in St. George. There are maybe 20 people TOTAL who own a nice Victorian house on St. Mark’s Place and work in Manhattan to pay for it. The rest are condos, rentals and in the case of Jersey Street, some pretty nasty projects.

                The majority of Staten Islanders have to take a bus or the Staten Island Railway from as far away as 14 miles just to get to St. George. Nobody out here is “getting a free ride” we’re just transferring from one line to another, something that residents of the other boroughs do a billion times a week.

                • Lady Feliz says:

                  Sorry, 25% of 9200 is 3680. Still a very small number, of which very few live/work within walking distance of BOTH terminals.

                • Andrew says:

                  Take a walk around St. George one day and tell me why a Wall Street banker or Worth Street lawyer would live in St. George. There are maybe 20 people TOTAL who own a nice Victorian house on St. Mark’s Place and work in Manhattan to pay for it. The rest are condos, rentals and in the case of Jersey Street, some pretty nasty projects.

                  I love the assumption that everybody who works in walking distance of South Ferry is a “Wall Street banker or Worth Street lawyer.” News flash: the overwhelming majority of employees in lower Manhattan fit either of those categories.

                  But to answer your question: even if you are not among them, there are some people out there who consider their commute when deciding where to live. For somebody working in lower Manhattan, St. George is a pretty convenient place to live.

                  The majority of Staten Islanders have to take a bus or the Staten Island Railway from as far away as 14 miles just to get to St. George. Nobody out here is “getting a free ride” we’re just transferring from one line to another, something that residents of the other boroughs do a billion times a week.

                  I’m sorry, if you’ve made the conscious decision to live 14 miles away from the ferry that takes you to Manhattan, why are you then turning around and complaining that you live 14 miles away from the ferry that takes you to Manhattan? If you don’t like the long commute, maybe you picked the wrong place to live.

                  • ajedrez says:

                    She’s not complaining about taking the train from 14 miles out. She’s just saying that many people have to pay for a bus or train, and thus aren’t getting a free ride.

                    • Lady Feliz says:

                      Thank You ajedrez. At least somebody here comprehends English. I guess he didn’t understandthe part where i said i lived in St. George, right up the hill from the ferry terminal.

                    • Andrew says:

                      I understand that, but I get the sense that she threw in the “14 miles out” bit to engender sympathy over the long commute.

      • Bolwerk says:

        Find out what portion of unlimited ride fare usage is attributable to the ferry, and share a proportionate amount of unlimited card revenue (less administrative costs) with the ferry. It’s more an accounting issue than technical problem.

        The bigger problem might be fare cards, if you want to preclude counting the ferry as a transfer (I would). You’d need to collect when people are only using the ferry (easy), but allow up to two transfers for ferry-originating trips and ignore bus/SIRT transfers. But, again, the revenue sharing is pretty much just an accounting issue.

        Not sure it’s worth it to bother given the looming MC replacement, but I don’t see why it’s not doable.

        • Jeff says:

          So instead of just making NYCDOT pay for it, you want to take money from MTA coffers to pay for it? And why should the MTA do that?

          • Bolwerk says:

            I don’t want to mess with it at all, for now. Just saying how it could be done if you want to use transit revenue to fund the ferry.

            However, such an arrangement should probably be considered someday, maybe as part of the arrangement that puts the MetroCard to bed. SI is part of NYC, and the ferry is part of our transportation system.

  3. John-2 says:

    Back in 1965, when the Ferry workers briefly went on strike during the summer, two of the smaller boats from the 69th Street Ferry route rendered obsolete by the opening of the Verazano-Narrows Bridge were called into service to run the route between St. George and Whitehall Street. It was stuffed to the gills, but it worked.

    The boats were the same size as the Governor’s Island ferry, and the since (as of now) that ferry doesn’t run overnight to the Island, the city really should look at working out some sort of deal to borrow it to provide the 1-5 a.m. added service to St. George.

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Why? The city already has two smaller boats (the Alice Austen and the John Noble) for overnight service. Why would they need to borrow more boats?

      • John-2 says:

        Because of Bem’s paragraph above:

        On a typical weekday, just 2-3 percent of the daily 61,000 riders use the ferry between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and the smallest boats fit over 1100 people with nine crew members…

        The night boats the Ferry’s using right now are only about 30 percent smaller than the pre-1930s fleet of regular SI Ferry boats — they’re more efficient than what plied the harbor 50-100 years ago, but they’re not “small” compared to the Governor’s Island boat or the ones that used to travel from St. George to Bay Ridge. If the Ferry’s only getting 1,200-1,800 riders during the overnight hours, those sized ferries would be more than enough to handle the traffic.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          The Gov Island ferries are about the same size (maybe slightly smaller) than the Austen/Noble class boats currently in use. The savings in fuel/crew size would be negligible.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          Also, more riders might actually use the ferry, especially on weekends, if service is increased.

  4. Stephen Smith says:

    Nine crew members?!?

    Do you have a link to the IBO report? How long would express bus service take at those hours? I’m inclined to say that buses would probably be preferable, since they could provide service not just from South Ferry to St. George, but from other places in Manhattan (and Brooklyn? perhaps a Bay Ridge stop as well would be in order, since it’s close to being as disconnected from Manhattan as Staten Island is once the R just runs as a shuttle?) to other places in Staten Island. And if there are nine people on each ferry even after midnight, then you could run really frequent service – say, every 10 minutes, which at those hours is twice as frequent as the subway – for the same price with a one-man bus.

    This seems like such an obvious solution…what am I missing?

    • Stephen Smith says:

      …of course, you could also find some way to run a ferry with fewer than nine employees…

    • Larry Littlefield says:

      This is a featherbedding issue. There are small boats available to provide more frequent overnight service — the private boats that are idle during that time. The city wanted to hire them. The union blocked it.

      • Lady Feliz says:

        So we should rent smaller boats from NY Waterway when the DOT already owns smaller boats for overnight servicer? You think NY Waterway will just give the DOT a few boats and say “here, take them, just have them back by 6am”? No. They will charge a few million a year (plus insurance) just so Staten Islanders can spend 25 minutes bouncing across five miles of open water on a tiny floating subway car? The money “saved” by renting one of those choppy little periaugers will be negligible at best.

    • Bolwerk says:

      How many people take the ferry at night? Can nine buses really handle the load?

      • Epson45 says:

        An express bus hold 57 seats. No way Jose.

      • anon says:

        “On a typical weekday, just 2-3 percent of the daily 61,000 riders use the ferry between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m”

        So 1200-1800. Standard local buses have 40 seats each, expresses buses 55 iirc. So maybe not. How many times could they make their run between midnight and 5am?

        • Lady Feliz says:

          And could they get from Whitehall St to St. George in 25 mins like the ferry? Doubt it. Between the Battery Tunnel, the Gowanus/BQE, the Verrazano Bridge and then up Bay Street, you’re talking 40-50 mins on a good day. If there’s construction and/or an accident blocking traffic, forget it. Keep in mind most ferry riders transfer to MTA buses/rail on the SI side, so timing to make connections is very important.

          • anon says:

            So most aren’t heading to St. George? Then maybe some of them would end up with a faster ride. No reason for all of those express buses to go to the ferry terminal instead of all over the island.

            • Lady Feliz says:

              So then what? You have a bus to the North Shore, another to Mid-Island, another to the Mall, and a fourth bus to go to the South Shore? How many buses do you propose? And where will these multiple buses drop people off at 3am? Staten Island isn’t exactly tiny, being 3x the size of Manhattan and only slightly smaller than Brooklyn. That’s a lot of territory to cover.

              Or, they can just increase ferry service and let Islanders transfer to one of 15 buses and the SI Railway to get to the interior of the Island. Much easier and less wasteful than have numerous buses travel from Manhattan to SI all night.

              • Andrew says:

                Currently, very few bus lines across the city run every 30 minutes or better. Are you seriously suggesting that the MTA should run 15 Staten Island bus lines, plus the SIR, on a 30 minute headway all night? Staten Island would have more bus lines on 30 minute headways than all four other boroughs combined!

                • ajedrez says:

                  For what it’s worth, there’s nothing saying that they have to decrease the headways on the bus lines. They could time some bus routes so that if they serve the same general area, they alternate with meeting ferries. For instance, the S46 & S48 are relatively close for most of their route, so you could have the S46 meeting the :00 ferries, while the S48 meets the :30 ferries. For those in areas with just one route, unfortunately they’ll just have to either wait it out or take a cab, but at least they have the option of a cab once they reach SI.

                  As I said before, though, 30 minute overnight headways would be nice to have, but a more pressing issue is the headways on weekend evenings, and general off-peak headways.

                  • Andrew says:

                    That’s not a bad idea at all, but it isn’t what Ms. Feliz was suggesting.

                    I agree with you on the weekend evening issue, but a 30 minute headway all night is a colossal waste.

        • Eric says:

          “So 1200-1800. Standard local buses have 40 seats each, expresses buses 55 iirc. So maybe not. How many times could they make their run between midnight and 5am?”

          1500 riders at 40 riders/bus is 37.5 buses between midnight and 5am. That’s one bus every 8 minutes. According to Google Maps, it’s in theory a 21 minute drive from Battery Park to St George. With current (4am NY time) traffic, it’s 22 minutes. So waiting time would be less than for the ferry, and travel time comparable (at this time of night). The buses would be nonstop and mostly full, therefore reasonably profitable. So this option seems convenient, fast, cheap, and generally worth it.

  5. David Brown says:

    Very interesting that this took place on the same day as the Willets Point vote. Anyone care to take a wager that this is part of Debi Rose’s (D-SI), goodie package that must happen to get Empire Outlets/Staten Island Wheel through the City Council? If I am right, then you accept this as a “cost of doing business” and even though it is wasteful spending, getting these projects completed will justify the expense of it (sort of like the “Ramps” at Willets Point)

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Or maybe Staten Isladers deserve better overnight transit? If you missed a subway connection and had to wait an hour for the next train you’d be shitting bricks and writing every politician in the phone book. This service increase has been a LONG time coming and was in the works well before the city decided to clean up the third-world ghetto of filthy car repair shops that currently pollute Willets Point.

      • David Brown says:

        Lady Feliz, I had heard nothing about this in the SI Advance (which is I use as the best resource to follow the Empire Outlet/Staten Island Ferris Wheel Story). From a Transportation Aspect, this is a positive for Staten Islanders (coupled with getting the South Ferry Station (R) & (1)reopened, improved Bus Service (I bet that is another demand for Rose), and above all reopening the Montague Tunnel (because of the Brooklyn Connection)). But you cannot look at improved Ferry Service in a vacuum, its about getting more people (specifically tourists) to visit Lower Manhattan, and more people to shop in the City instead of New Jersey. One more point, as work on old projects end (PATH Station, Fulton Street Station & 99 Washington Street (the World’s tallest Holiday Inn)), others return from the dead ( SPURA, 50 West Street & 99 Church Street), and others get approved (Pier 17, NYU 2031, & hopefully the SI pair), it also increases the probability that the FULL LENGTH Second Avenue Subway (SAS) gets built, because more traffic means it becomes more needed than ever before. Lets see what happens with the East Side Midtown Rezoning, it is needed for SAS Phase III, and will also help with starting and finishing Projects like 610 Lexington Ave & the 1st Ave “Mud Pit” of Sheldon Solow. Gut feeling, it will go through. As far as Willets Point, they have tried for Decades for do something about it, but until now have not succeeded.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          David, you lost me after you said you use the SI Advance as your best source of news. Most Staten Islanders stopped reading it years ago, and they routinely are late/wrong with STATEN ISLAND news, often getting beaten to the punch by the Manhattan newspapers and TV stations.

      • Andrew says:

        Ah, my favorite word in transit discussions: “deserve.”

        No, Lady Feliz, if you make the conscious decision to live in a low density setting separated by a large body of water from Manhattan, you do not somehow “deserve” the same extent of service to Manhattan as do people who have made the conscious decision to live in transit-rich, high density areas close to Manhattan.

        Staten Island residents already receive greater transportation subsidies, per capita, than residents of any other borough. I’m afraid the word “deserve” does not apply.

        Yes, the City Council has scored political points by spending somebody else’s money to run more frequent ferry service overnight. Congratulations! Where will that money come from? Who will pay for the service?

        By the way: there are plenty of bus lines that run every 60 minutes, in all five boroughs.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          Cry me a river Andrew. The ferry will run every 30 mins all night whether you like it or not. And spare us the “who’s gonna pay for it” schtick. It ain’t all coming out of your pocket sweetie, so stop stressing.

          • Andrew says:

            Then who do you think is paying for it, the tooth fairy? Who do you think funds NYCDOT’s operations?

            Did anybody stop to think whether there might have been a more productive use for $15 million of annual taxpayer funds? No, of course not – this was entirely a political decision.

  6. Roxie says:

    I wonder if they can’t just put both ferry terminals in MTA fare control. That way, people riding the 1 and the R on the Manhattan side can transfer to the ferry without re-swiping, and the same for the Staten Island side and the SIR. It’d effectively bring the ferry “into” the subway system; they could probably work the ferry into the transfer scheme as the same as a subway swipe; bus-to-ferry is free, ferry-to-bus is free, ferry-to-subway from out of system isn’t.

    Of course, that’d require cooperation between the city and the MTA…

    • Lady Feliz says:

      What would be the up side to all that? Revenue wouldn’t increase, so what’s the point?

    • Graham says:

      It works here in Western Australia, you purchase a ticket on a bus, you use it on a train or ferry, provided it is within two hours of purchase.

      http://www.transperth.wa.gov.a.....Fares.aspx

      And if you have a Smartrider (Swipecard) that card can be used outside the City of Perth, I myself have used it in the town of Bunbury located 2 hrs drive south of Perth and the system has been set up in other regional centers.

    • Michael Sherrell says:

      On the Manhahttan side of the ferry, both the #1 train, and the R-train Metrocard turnstyles are located an underground subway station that is physically OUTSIDE of the ferry terminal building. In fact one has to exit the subways to the outdoors, and then enter the ferry terminal building.

      Before the new South Ferry terminal station was built, the old South Ferry #1 station entrance was located physically inside the ferry terminal building. Yes, the old station that could only accommodate the opening of only 5 doors, entrance/exit by a single staircase, no escalators or elevators, and no transfers to/from the R-train without paying another fare at the separate R-train subway station.

      The new South Ferry Terminal was built adjacent to the R-train at Whitehall, but also under the existing old South Ferry station. The new full train-length #1 terminal was basically joined to the old Whitehall Street station with elevators, escalators, allowing the station to hold two full-length trains. This combined station is physically OUTSIDE of the terminal buiding. The planners hoped to provide some kind of circular canopy for in-climate weather, but the implementation simply does not work. It is simple to realize that one has to walk outside of the subway and outside of the ferry building to make any connections to any of the subways.

      I’d really like to see any plan that would place these facilities under a single MYA type fare control scheme, where the riders only have to swipe once.

      ———–

      On the Staten Island side, the space relationship of the SIR and the ferry is might be workable – depending upon the place of turnstyles. The problem is that St. George is the collection point for the majority of the fares collected by the SIR. Fares are collected from the riders as they exit the trains, and as they enter the platforms. Except for the Tompkinsville station, no other station on the SIR collects fares, and the conductors do not collect fares on the trains.

      In turns of not having a fare on the ferry, and only having fare-card swipss on the MTA platforms and buses – seems to work well enough. Best to leave well enough alone.

  7. No way in hell I want the MTA running the ferry. Next thing we know, the ferry is shut down overnight for “water maintenance.”

  8. Chet says:

    Having gone through that rite of passage…waiting 59 minutes for a boat because the 1 train would arrive at Whitehall just in time to miss the last boat…this change is long overdue.

    Running an express bus from the St George terminal to Whitehall would take about 35-40 minutes or so (the ride down Bay St to the VZ Bridge wouldn’t be very fast)- longer than than the 25 minute boat ride…and you’d have run a lot of buses to carry the same number as the boats can handle.

    Finally, few doubt that the wheel and outlet center are not going to be approved…more ferry service is going to be needed to handle the crowds…maybe not over night, but at other times for certain.

    • David Brown says:

      Chet, you are correct on both ends. The Outlet and Wheel will be approved and there is a need for more Ferry Service, its all about making Debi Rose look good (although that is like “putting lipstick on a pig.”). I said it before and I said it again all of these contentious Real Estate (and transportation related) deals are going through. I mentioned yesterday it is no accident that the increased Ferry Service came up on the same day Willets Point was approved. In addition to that, the City Planning Commission had hearings yesterday on the Greenpoint Condo Pair ( Greenpoint Landing, & 77 Commercial Ave)and Kingsbridge Armory (things that got zero coverage in the media). Does anyone care to bet against the Greenpoint Condos being approved?

  9. Spendmore Wastemore says:

    The huge ferries are far too large for overnight service. Instead, provide kayaks with LED lights.

    One could burn off an entire 20oz sugarslurp commuting home.

    Spend not, waste not.

  10. Herb Lehman says:

    Almost all coverage of the Staten Island Ferry service enhancement, including this post, is missing a much larger point. Yes, it’s very likely that there will be boats running at 4 a.m. with as many crew members as passengers. But please realize that on weekend evenings — when the Staten Island Ferry sees some of the highest ridership of the entire week — the ferry runs once an hour. This is happening not at 3 or 4 a.m., but at 7 p.m. Imagine running one No. 4 train per hour in the heart of a Saturday evening?

    Benjamin, if you were a Staten Islander who had to basically deal with a 7 p.m. curfew every Saturday and Sunday, you’d be crying bloody murder — and rightfully so. It is very easy for a Brooklynite to imply that this service is wasteful. Since I started following this blog a few months ago, I haven’t seen a single complaint about A trains being run through the Rockaways every 20 minutes with four people aboard at 3 a.m.

    The current weekend schedule does not work. Period. The single boat that runs after 7 p.m. has such a heavy passenger load that it takes 6-7 minutes to unload all the passengers, then another 6-7 minutes to load the next boat — throwing the boat perpetually behind schedule. This level of crowding persists until at least midnight. I can count the number of times that the 11:30 p.m. boat on Saturday departed before 11:55 p.m. this summer on one hand and have fingers left over.

    That being said, point taken on trying to capture some sort of fare collection. I don’t think there would be many people who are not transferring from a bus or train somehow, but it would be something. An even bigger opportunity for generating revenue would be to open NYC gift shops in the terminals and perhaps even on the boats themselves. I am not a business person, but I never understood why that has never been done.

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Comment of the Day. Thank you Herbert Lehman (didn’t they name a Staten Island Ferry after you?)

      All this talk about how wasteful and expensive the ferry is, as if MTA bus/subway/commuter rail is some cash cow that brings in millions of dollars in profit to the city/state.

      One City, One Fare. Staten Island is a part of NYC and has been since the other boroughs joined in 1898. If folks in the other four boroughs can get from Woodlawn to Rockaway and transfer to a bus paying one fare, Staten Islanders (who don’t have the luxury of an off-Island subway) should be able to do the same. The ferry (for better of worse) is Staten Island’s direct link to Manhattan. Until the city decides to build a subway link to Richmond County, the ferry will have to do, and increased service is needed.

      • Jeff says:

        Exactly. The cost of operating the ferry for free is essentially amortization for a hypothetical subway tunnel that should have been built decades ago.

    • ajedrez says:

      I agree wholeheartedly about the service on weekend evenings. Saturday night is the night when everybody goes out, and even for people working, getting out of work at 8PM on a Saturday night is definitely far from uncommon. I’ve always thought that 30 minute headways until at least 10PM on both nights was a no-brainer.

      The MTA runs double buses on a lot of routes on weekend nights, so obviously those bus riders had to come from somewhere.

      In regards to the increased ferry service, I still liked the city’s idea to bustitute the ferry at night. I do think the run can be done in 25 minutes most of the time. Think about it: At night, the X1 & X10 take about 15 minutes from Bowling Green to Fingerboard Road, and then it’s about a 10 minute ride to get to St. George (the S51 manages to make it in about 10 minutes with stops). Are there the occasional late-night traffic jams on the BQE? Yes, but they’re not that often from experience.

      Doing some back-of-the-napkin calculations, 1,800 riders divided by two directions is 900 each way. Over 5 hours, and that’s 180 per hour. An MCI can hold 57 people, so you’re talking about 15-20 minute headways, on average. Of course, the ferries between 12 & 2 are going to be more crowded than those between 2 & 5. FWIW, it would be awkward to go from 30 minute ferry headways to 10 minute bus headways. (Of course, this is assuming ridership is the same at 15 minute headways vs. 60 minutes)

      With regards to the ferris wheel project, I hope the headways decrease to 15-20 minute headways middays.

      And for those who don’t know, I live on the West Shore of SI and take the ferry regularly.

    • Andrew says:

      A strong argument can definitely be made, based on loadings, for increased evening service on weekends. But all night?!

  11. Alex says:

    Does it make sense? If it is entirely subsidized by the City, and the City can’t find a way to collect about $7.25 a weekday (about what it should cost each of the 61,000 riders to make two trips a day) to cover the total costs, then my answer is no it does not.

    Now here are some fun maths for all of you: Let’s imagine NYC was still charging a 25¢ fare for a ferry ride (this was what it cost to ride back in 1993 when the fare was eliminated). Having the 61,000 riders pay 50¢ every weekday would save the City $7.9 million a year.

    • Jeff says:

      How much would the MTA have saved had they never enacted free bus-to-subway transfers?

      How much would the MTA have saved had they never enacted unlimited Metrocards?

      Heck, how much would the MTA have saved had they never built all those free subway-to-subway transfer tunnels? And charge fares by distance for that matter?

      Who cares about all those types of regional transportation convenience perks? As long as I’m not affected.

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Wrong. The fare was 50 cents and was abolished on July 4, 1997. The fares the city collected were not enough to even cover the maintenance of the turnstiles.

      Please don’t make up dates and numbers to suit your hypothesis. One City, One Fare, end of story.

      • Alex says:

        Yes, I wrote the wrong year. It was 1997 and not ’93. I think it’s funny you made such an accusation of my typo when you blatantly made up numbers jn your previous posts.

        Nevertheless, I clearly stated the fare was 25¢. 50¢ accounted for a round trip. And my point was that the City already operates the ferry at a loss and is increasing that loss by expanding the service for an incredibally small percentage riders.

        Also, you may wan to consider loosing the one fare mantra. You chose to live on an outlier that has limited access due to its placement on the wrong side of the harbor. Unless you can manage to roll the PA, MTA, & DOT into one functioning agancy, it’s not going to happen.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          Blatantly made up numbers? I corrected my own math, and used census data to back up my other figures.

          Staten Island is part of NYC. Just because the city, the MTA, and/or the previous railroads that now comprise NYCT didn’t build a subway to SI doesn’t mean Islanders should be penalized.

          Until the MTA builds a subway to SI, the ferry will remain free. One City, One Fare, end of story.

        • Lady Feliz says:

          Placement on the wrong side of the Harbor? What the hell does that even mean? Is there a right side to NY Harbor? Did Staten Islanders make the decision to plop the Island where it is 4 billion years ago? When Greater NY was created in 1898 after Manhattan sought to annex the other boroughs, did they draw a line in the middle of the Harbor that said “right side/wrong side”? Do Islanders pay less taxes for being on the “wrong side”?

          One City, One Fare. You don’t like it, move to Jersey.

          • Alex says:

            Well, I grew up in NYC and didn’t like it very much as a place of residence, so I did move to NJ. Since doing so the quality of my life has increased considerably. I know you think telling someone to move here is some kind of insult or punishment but as crazy as everyone in my state is, I’ve yet to hear any commuters make such a silly demand similar to that of one city, one fare.

            I’ll admit we do complain about fare hikes & service disruptions, but I guess we’re not as reserved as you New Yorkers, whom are renowned for never complaining.

            But this discussion isn’t about me or nj, it’s about a $115 million ferry service that is completely subsidized by the City and used—especially at night—by a minority of its residents. And yet for some illogical reason, you harp on about how you deserve free access to the rest of a city in which you chose to live in one of its most remote parts.

            Say what you want of me & my state, and I’m sure you will continue to nuance my every word to your content, I honestly don’t care. None of that will change the expense of the ferry service, and it certainly won’t change the fact you’re demanding that you continue receiving a nonsensical hand out. If you don’t like that, then you may consider moving to any of the other four boroughs.

            You’re also welcome to come here to NJ.

            • Lady Feliz says:

              So you don’t even live in NYC yet you’re telling us how to run things here. I think you guys have your own problems vis-à-vis getting to Manhattan. Let us figure this out by ourselves dear.

              • Alex says:

                I never made such suggestions. I made a statement which I’ll repeat one final time just for you: increasing an already expensive ferry service, that is completely subsidized by the City, and only benefits a small percentage of its residents, does not make sense.

                Also, I am certain you will figure it out. You’re doing such a swimming job of it already. Doesn’t it strike you as being a bit too serendipitous the council passed this now, and has it scheduled to be revisited every two years? It’s almost as if it was designed to be used as a hot button issue for Staten Islanders come every election.

                But like you said, I don’t even live in the City.

                • Lady Feliz says:

                  No, you don’t, yet you seem awfully concerned about Staten Island transit and NYC politics. What, not enough graft and corruption on your side of the Arthur Kill? :O

                  • Alex says:

                    It really is not very difficult to take interest in the issues affecting multiple States.

                    I may have move away, but a considerable amount of my family & friends continue to live within the five boroughs, so I am quite concerned about transit & NYC politics. Are you suggesting that because I live elsewhere I can’t be concerned with how they are being affected?

                    • Lady Feliz says:

                      The Staten Island Ferry doesn’t run between “multiple states” so I’m not sure how this affects Jersey.

            • Boris says:

              $115 million is only a small fraction of the NYC DOT budget. The majority of the budget goes towards subsidizing driving. Since only a minority of New Yorkers own cars, I find that much more illogical than subsidizing ferry service.

          • Andrew says:

            Staten Island residents who need to travel to Manhattan wake up on the wrong side of the harbor from where they need to go, just as Manhattan residents who need to travel to Staten Island wake up on the wrong side of the harbor from where they need to go.

            Staten Islanders made the decision to live where they live. I don’t believe that anyone is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to live in Staten Island. If you don’t like the transportation options that are provided for you (at great expense to the rest of the city), you are welcome to move elsewhere.

            • Lady Feliz says:

              Thank you Andrew for the Dumbest comment of the year.

              “So what if you, your family, your friends, and 480,000 people live on Staten Island, some of you for generations. How DARE you actually want better transit options! What do you think Staten Island is, part of NEW YORK CITY?”

              Yes, a whole county’s worth of people who live on an island that’s been an integral part of New York since the Dutch owned the place should just up and move. Real astute of you to make such an asswipe comment.

              • Andrew says:

                Wow, you really don’t get it, do you. There happens to large body of water separating Staten Island and Manhattan. That’s a geographical fact, regardless of municipal boundaries. If you are on one side of that body of water and you need to reach the other side, the city provides a ferry service, free of charge. If you are not satisfied with that operation, then you are welcome to alter either your origin or your destination (i.e., move or change jobs) so that you no longer need to rely on it.

                There are plenty of people, in all five boroughs (and beyond), who are dissatisfied in some way with their commute, and they are likewise entitled to move or to change jobs in search of a better commute.

                When I grew dissatisfied with the need to take a bus to the subway every morning, I decided to move to a new apartment closer to the subway. The rent is higher, but the tradeoff was worthwhile to me. I didn’t blame somebody else for the bad commute – I should have placed a greater priority in living close to the subway in the first place.

                If you don’t like your commute, then find a better one.

  12. Alex says:

    Correction: I originally wrote, “collect about $7.25 a weekday”. I should have written, ‘collect about $442,250 a weekday’.

  13. VLM says:

    I don’t feel like finding the right place to leave this comment, but after reading a few Staten Islanders whining about this all day, I had to ask this: Why should the Staten Island Ferry be free? I pay for my trips on whatever transit system I use, and if I have to use more than two, I pay a second fare. You also choose to live on Staten Island knowing full well that transportation options are limited. It should be part of the cost of that decision. The city is essentially giving a $100 million handout to people because they opted to live in one, less convenient place while commuting to work in another.

    Harumph.

    • Epson45 says:

      Move to Jersey then.

      • Eric says:

        Staten Island should really be part of Jersey. If NY and NJ decided to swap Staten Island for Hudson County (at least east of the Hackensack River), the world would be a better place.

        • Eric says:

          Imagine 7 subway to Secaucus without leaving NYC boundaries…

          • Nyland8 says:

            Imagine the 7 to Secaucus … period.

            Or better yet, imagine the L to Secaucus. It’s a wider train, with wider platforms, that currently pulls into its 8th Ave terminal at 5mph … often after waiting a couple of minutes for a slot to clear. The L to NJ would actually speed up its inbound commute by through-running.

            And you wouldn’t be faced with the nightmare and costs associated with widening the 7’s Manhattan platforms.

    • Lady Feliz says:

      You use two different transit systems to travel within NYC? What is the other system you use besides the MTA?

    • Herb Lehman says:

      For what it’s worth, I really don’t care if there’s a nominal fee to ride the ferry, but either way the level of service desperately needed to be increased.

  14. Anon256 says:

    It seems strange to prioritise overnight service when the ferry only runs half hourly at midday. Surely far more people would benefit from more frequent midday service.

    • Michael Sherrell says:

      Yes, most folks would benefit from frequent mid-day service. The push to make the night and midnight hour service running at 30 minutes a bit more consistent.

      Staten Islanders get penalized anyway. If one misses a boat there is a 30 minute wait for the next boat. Missing a boat is really not that difficult, not is it pleasant. Everybody who takes the ferry has done it. The buses on Staten Island are often enough late to the ferry terminal missing the boat by just minutes. Some buses are even scheduled to miss the ferry, and since bus drivers can not come in early, that is before they are scheduled, if the bus is scheduled to arrive at 3:01, and the ferry leaves at 3:00pm – what do you think are the chances that those bus riders will make that ferry? The bus driver has completed his assigned task, and the ferry riders have missed their boat.

      Getting the subway trains to cooperate with the ferry schedule? The MTA has repeatedly said that just such an effort is not possible. The MTA responds that they provide enough frequent train service on the #1, #5, #4, and R trains. So yes, there are still plenty of folks that have to run for the boat. Getting the SIR to cooperate with the ferry schedule is actually easier, but still ‘stuff happens” – where sometimes SIR riders miss the boat.

      Being on hour late – because of missing the boat – is not pleasant. Not many folks can keep their jobs often being a half-hour or an hour late to work. Reducing the hourly penalty to a half-hour is a worth-while goal.

      Please note that when a ferry is taken out of service on a 30-minute schedule that means riders have to wait and hour for the next boat. When a ferry is taken out of service on an hourly schedule, that means riders have to wait 2 hours for the next ferry. Do you see another reason to reduce the wait times?

      Mike

      • ajedrez says:

        I will say this: Thankfully, not all drivers abide by the rules in terms of not running early, and if the bus is scheduled to miss the ferry by a minute or two, there are drivers who will speed up to try and catch it. And then there’s the times when the ferry is delayed by a few minutes, allowing you to catch it.

        And when the ferry is running on an hourly schedule, that means there’s only one boat in service. Unless the boat stalls out on the harbor or something, chances are that if the boat were taken out of service, they would transfer the crew over to a new boat, so hopefully you don’t get a 2 hour wait.

        • Michael Sherrell says:

          Then you have NEVER rode the ferry when a boat has been cancelled! Where the riders are told that they will have to wait an additional half-hour or an hour for the next boat! They can say that they are “sorry for the inconvenience” on the loud-speaker all they want, but it still means that one is getting home or to Manhattan very, very late. Just speaking the truth! Mike

          • ajedrez says:

            Sure I have. I’ve had boats cancelled when we were running on a 30 minute schedule (and of course, you have the times during rush hour when they pull out a boat and go from a 15 minute schedule to a 20 minute one), but so far, I’ve been fortunate that they haven’t cancelled on me when they were on a 60 minute schedule, and hopefully I never have to find out!

  15. Nyland8 says:

    What proportion of the SI Ferry traffic are visitors vs. residents?

    About 2 months ago, I had occasion to ride the ferry every day for a week … M thru F. What I experienced during the afternoon return from Richmond was that the summer ferry was packed with out-of-towners, literally by the thousands.

    Why is their excursion subsidized by the city?

    How much revenue could be made if only residents of the city rode for free, and tourists had to pay for the ride … say … the equivalent of a subway fare??

    • Lady Feliz says:

      I’ve often thought of that myself, but wonder how the logistics of that would turn out. How to you know who’s a tourist vs who’s a NYC resident? Do people have to line up with photo ID’s showing city/country of residence? How much will they pay, and how (cash, Metrocard)? Who will make change for those paying cash? From the sound of it, the city may spend more $$ collecting fares than it’ll take in from riders.

      • Phantom says:

        The tourists, like many Staten Islanders, just love to have a ” free ride “!!

        • Lady Feliz says:

          Except for NYC residents it’s not “free.” Tax money and all that. It’s those same taxes that keep the East River bridges standing up. How many engineers, inspectors, repairmen, etc does it take to keep the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensborough bridges from falling into the river? Does the DOT spend a few million a year to keep those free bridges from falling down? I bet they do, yet nobody seems to scream and yell about that. It’s those greedy Staten Islanders that always seem to ruin everything LOL.

      • Nyland8 says:

        These are not serious logistical problems. Any city resident who wants one could apply for a ferry card once a year. Their State issued ID should be enough proof of residence. And we already have an infrastructure to provide the card. We do it for Senior Citizen discounts on MetroCard.

        For those who haven’t applied, and need to take the ferry rarely, any MetroCard machine could be programed to provide a pass card based on nothing more than the billing address of a person’s credit or debit card.

        The rest of the public – non-resident tourists, business visitors, etc, – would simply pay the equivalent of a subway trip. Most of them, by far, find the ferry through the Whitehall and South Ferry subway stops already. If they’re in town for awhile, they are already familiar with how that system works. If they just parachuted down to the Battery out of nowhere, and they’re looking to ride the ferry, the fact that they’d have to go to a kiosk and buy a ticket won’t be a deterrent. And at $5.00 a round trip, it would still be too cheap for the excursion riders to balk at. If you’ve flown all the way to NYC from Oslo, Osaka or Omsk, it would still be a bargain for sightseers.

        And once the outlets and ferris wheel are up and running, all the more justification for the tourists.

        The expense of implementing is minimal. The question is, what are the proportions? How many people are we talking about?

        My guess is, over the course of a year, there is easily a million dollars in revenue to be made.

        • Nyland8 says:

          According to the St. George Ferry Terminal website, 1.5 million “tourists” take the trip each year.

          I don’t know how they arrive at those numbers, but it seems safe to assume that million$-of-dollar$ in lost revenue are at stake.

    • Andrew says:

      Why should non-residents pay more than residents? Do non-residents somehow cost more to accommodate on the ferry than residents?

      (On the contrary, it’s only due to the rush hour commuting patterns by residents that the ferry has to run on a 15 minute headway for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. So regular commuters in fact add considerably to the cost of operating the service.)

      Aside from a few (most likely unconstitutional) cases involving toll bridges, instituted in the name of politics rather than sound economics, none of our transportation facilities charge residents and non-residents different prices – nor should they.

      • Nyland8 says:

        “Why should non-residents pay more than residents?”

        Well Andrew … you can’t get the right answers in life if you ask the wrong questions. The better one to be asking is: Why should the residents of NYC, most of whom don’t even ride the ferry, be subsidizing a free boat excursion for tourists?

        “Do non-residents somehow cost more to accommodate on the ferry than residents?”

        Is that a trick question? Yes. If you’re running 4,400 passenger ferries instead of 1,100 passenger ferries during non-rush hours, just to take up the extra load of sight-seers, then of course they cost more.

        “( … )”

        A specious and laughable argument. You’re not suggesting that the city would be running a free ferry to an uninhabited island, are you? If not for the residents, there would be no ferry service.

        As for the constitutionality, feel free to petition our government with that grievance. I promise I won’t stop you.

        ” … – nor should they.”

        Clearly a difference of opinion. But it’s hard for me to imagine why you would argue in favor of our tax dollars subsidizing sight-seeing cruises. Should we all be buying them tickets for the Circle Line, too? If not, then feel free to explain the difference?

        • Andrew says:

          Well Andrew … you can’t get the right answers in life if you ask the wrong questions. The better one to be asking is: Why should the residents of NYC, most of whom don’t even ride the ferry, be subsidizing a free boat excursion for tourists?

          Why should the residents of NYC, most of whom don’t even ride the ferry, be subsidizing a free boat excursion for anyone? Why should the residents of NYC, most of whom don’t even ride the ferry, all be pitching in $15 million per year to double the frequency of overnight ferry service?

          I don’t want to be subsidizing anyone’s ferry trips between Staten Island and Manhattan. But once I’m told that I have to subsidize the ferry, then I really don’t care who takes advantage of it. I can see stronger arguments for promoting tourism than for promoting long commutes.

          “Do non-residents somehow cost more to accommodate on the ferry than residents?”
          Is that a trick question? Yes. If you’re running 4,400 passenger ferries instead of 1,100 passenger ferries during non-rush hours, just to take up the extra load of sight-seers, then of course they cost more.

          Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I was referring to the per-rider cost. Does it cost any less to accommodate an individual who lives in NYC than one who does not?

          If not for the Staten Island residents riding the boats, a 30 minute headway would be adequate (or excessive) at all times of day. The rush hour increase to 15 minutes – which requires two additional boats – would be unnecessary. The capital and operating costs of those two additional boats fall entirely on the shoulders of the commuters.

          “( … )”
          A specious and laughable argument. You’re not suggesting that the city would be running a free ferry to an uninhabited island, are you? If not for the residents, there would be no ferry service.

          I’m sorry, did I say something about an uninhabited island? I must have missed it.

          As for the constitutionality, feel free to petition our government with that grievance. I promise I won’t stop you.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04......html?_r=0

          ” … – nor should they.”
          Clearly a difference of opinion. But it’s hard for me to imagine why you would argue in favor of our tax dollars subsidizing sight-seeing cruises. Should we all be buying them tickets for the Circle Line, too? If not, then feel free to explain the difference?

          What difference? I wasn’t aware that the Circle Line charges different fares for residents and nonresidents.

          • Nyland8 says:

            “Why should the residents of NYC, most of whom don’t even ride the ferry, be subsidizing a free boat excursion for anyone?”

            Funding the cost of operating the ferry is no different than funding the operation of the 145th Street Bridge. Most residents don’t use that either, yet in some way we all collectively subsidize the cost of its continued operation. Just like the ferry, it spans water and connects two boroughs.

            “But once I’m told that I have to subsidize the ferry, then I really don’t care who takes advantage of it.”

            I don’t think you’ve thought this through. You’re bitching about increased frequency and, as I have pointed out, it is exactly the increased frequency during the day – the frequency of 4,400 vs. 1,100 passenger ferries – that could be changed during non-peak hours. That would cut the cost of subsidy – which you claim to be concerned with. ??!!??

            “I can see stronger arguments for promoting tourism than for promoting long commutes.”

            HUH ?? First of all, it’s not “promoting long commutes”. Secondly, are you suggesting that a free ferry to SI promotes tourism? Are you suggesting that someone from Oslo or Omsk will fly into town to take a free ferry – but that they’d balk at $5 ??!!?? Don’t embarrass yourself any further defending that issue. When compared to ANY travel costs – including simple gas, parking and toll costs, no tourist on the planet would demur at a $5 round trip – not even if they were from NEW JERSEY!

            “I’m sorry, did I say something about an uninhabited island? I must have missed it.”

            Your claim is that SI residents are to blame for increased ferry frequency – and I’m pointing out that without SI residents – in other words, and uninhabited island – there wouldn’t even be a ferry to discuss. Don’t be obtuse.

            Regarding the constitutionality argument, feel free to let me know how that challenge turns out. Until that time, thanks for making MY point. From your article:

            “Many states have given discounts to residents living near tolls — even in the days before electronic transponders — to ease the financial burden of crossings that may be necessary DAILY, … ”

            And then:
            “Toll operators have recognized their presence in a community and their need to economically support that community,” Mr. Crawford said. He has seen no similar suits in which discounts were challenged on state discrimination grounds, he said, aside from a 2007 case in Massachusetts ‘THAT WAS DISMISSED’ !! (emphasis mine)

            “What difference? I wasn’t aware that the Circle Line charges different fares for residents and nonresidents.”

            Being obtuse again? The difference I’m referring to is not the difference between residents and non-residents – it’s the difference between subsidizing some excursions for tourists – the SI Ferry – but not subsidizing other excursions for tourists – the Circle Line.

            You have failed to come up with any good reason NOT to charge tourists for their SI Ferry trip. The fact that it hasn’t been done yet is not sufficient reason. Try again?

            • Andrew says:

              Funding the cost of operating the ferry is no different than funding the operation of the 145th Street Bridge. Most residents don’t use that either, yet in some way we all collectively subsidize the cost of its continued operation. Just like the ferry, it spans water and connects two boroughs.

              You are exactly right, and I’ve long been in favor of tolling the bridges.

              “But once I’m told that I have to subsidize the ferry, then I really don’t care who takes advantage of it.”
              I don’t think you’ve thought this through. You’re bitching about increased frequency and, as I have pointed out, it is exactly the increased frequency during the day – the frequency of 4,400 vs. 1,100 passenger ferries – that could be changed during non-peak hours. That would cut the cost of subsidy – which you claim to be concerned with. ??!!??

              You’re using the term “frequency” strangely. The midday frequency is 2 boats per hour, and I don’t think you’re proposing to change that. You’re suggesting that the capacity of each boat be reduced.

              How much would it cost to swap out the two Kennedy/Barberi/Molinari class boats for the two Austen class boats between the rush hours? Are both Austen class boats even available on the typical day? And would they be large enough to handle the commuters?

              I’m not convinced that there’s any savings to be had.

              On the flip side, without rush hour commuters, there could be serious savings, by running on a 30 minute headway all day, two boats at a time, never three or four. The greatest costs to transit agencies come at the peaks.

              “I can see stronger arguments for promoting tourism than for promoting long commutes.”
              HUH ?? First of all, it’s not “promoting long commutes”. Secondly, are you suggesting that a free ferry to SI promotes tourism? Are you suggesting that someone from Oslo or Omsk will fly into town to take a free ferry – but that they’d balk at $5 ??!!?? Don’t embarrass yourself any further defending that issue. When compared to ANY travel costs – including simple gas, parking and toll costs, no tourist on the planet would demur at a $5 round trip – not even if they were from NEW JERSEY!

              Providing a transportation service free of charge promotes its use. Staten Island is a more popular place to live with its many transportation subsidies, including the ferry, than it would be without them. I don’t see why my tax dollars should be used to generate a discount for somebody else’s commute.

              I’d rather not subsidize anyone’s ferry ride. But if I absolutely had to pick someone to subsidize, I’d rather it be a one-time visitor than an everyday commuter.

              Remember, the new law doesn’t generate $15 million annually out of thin air. Rather, it obligates city taxpayers in all five boroughs to spend $15 million on a political gesture that, aside from weekend evenings, will be very lightly used. If the $15 million were to be raised from only Staten Island residents, or only Staten Island Ferry riders, or only late night Staten Island Ferry riders, I think we might have seen a different outcome.

              “I’m sorry, did I say something about an uninhabited island? I must have missed it.”
              Your claim is that SI residents are to blame for increased ferry frequency – and I’m pointing out that without SI residents – in other words, and uninhabited island – there wouldn’t even be a ferry to discuss. Don’t be obtuse.

              No, I’m saying that the number of rush hour commuters on the ferry directly impacts the cost of providing the service. If rush hour ridership goes up significantly, another boat will need to be added to the cycle. If rush hour ridership drops significantly, one boat can be dropped from the cycle. The number of boats in the fleet must be adequate to support peak service, which is determined by rush hour ridership, and SI residents make up the vast majority of rush hour ridership in the morning.

              If a fare were charged, SI wouldn’t suddenly become uninhabited.

              Regarding the constitutionality argument, feel free to let me know how that challenge turns out. Until that time, thanks for making MY point. From your article:
              “Many states have given discounts to residents living near tolls — even in the days before electronic transponders — to ease the financial burden of crossings that may be necessary DAILY, … ”
              And then:
              “Toll operators have recognized their presence in a community and their need to economically support that community,” Mr. Crawford said. He has seen no similar suits in which discounts were challenged on state discrimination grounds, he said, aside from a 2007 case in Massachusetts ‘THAT WAS DISMISSED’ !! (emphasis mine)

              Thank you, I know how to read. My point is simply that this sort of toll scheme has begun to be challenged in recent years. I am not an expert in law, but I expect the challenges to continue, and the resulting decisions may not all be to your liking.

              “What difference? I wasn’t aware that the Circle Line charges different fares for residents and nonresidents.”
              Being obtuse again? The difference I’m referring to is not the difference between residents and non-residents – it’s the difference between subsidizing some excursions for tourists – the SI Ferry – but not subsidizing other excursions for tourists – the Circle Line.

              Do you propose that scenic bus lines impose a surcharge on tourists? That Central Park charge an admission fee for tourists? That the Brooklyn Bridge charge a pedestrian toll for tourists?

              Whatever you think, the fact remains that, currently, these facilities – like the Staten Island Ferry, like the Circle Line – charge the exact same price for tourists and residents alike. There is very little precedent in this city for tourist surcharges, and I’d like to see it stay that way. If tourists should pay, then everyone should pay.

              You have failed to come up with any good reason NOT to charge tourists for their SI Ferry trip. The fact that it hasn’t been done yet is not sufficient reason. Try again?

              I have no objection, in the slightest, to charging tourists for their SI Ferry trip – as long as residents are charged equally.

              If we’re going to install the infrastructure to impose a fare for the ferry, I see absolutely no reason to exempt residents. If you choose to live in Staten Island and commute via ferry, you should pay the full cost of that decision.

              • Lady Feliz says:

                Jesus, what a blowhard you are. What happened, the Tea Party get tired of your silly rants so now you’re crying about Staten Islanders on SAS?

                • Andrew says:

                  I love it – I share absolutely no ideology whatsoever with the Tea Party.

                  Cool it with the ad hominem attacks. I’ve been polite throughout.

              • Nyland8 says:

                Hey … it was your article. If you don’t like the content, or disagree with the premises espoused in it, then don’t post it.

                “Do you propose that scenic bus lines impose a surcharge on tourists? That Central Park charge an admission fee for tourists? That the Brooklyn Bridge charge a pedestrian toll for tourists?”

                We don’t incur the cost of maintaining Central Park for the sake of people who commute through it. We didn’t build Central Park as a means to promote growth in outlying areas. Central Park doesn’t serve as a concession to a borough for failing to connect a subway to it. In a comparison with ferry service to Staten Island, it is a less-than flimsy example.

                Commuters are the lifeblood of this city. If you don’t think your commute is subsidized by the taxpayers, then you have your head way too far up your ass for me to bother continuing with this exchange. If you don’t even have a commute, then I’m not interested in the view from your bubble.

                Feel free to grace us with your last screed on this subject … however feeble that may be.

                • Andrew says:

                  Hey … it was your article. If you don’t like the content, or disagree with the premises espoused in it, then don’t post it.

                  You suggested that I “petition our government with that grievance” – and I simply pointed out that others have and will continue to do so.

                  “Do you propose that scenic bus lines impose a surcharge on tourists? That Central Park charge an admission fee for tourists? That the Brooklyn Bridge charge a pedestrian toll for tourists?”
                  We don’t incur the cost of maintaining Central Park for the sake of people who commute through it. We didn’t build Central Park as a means to promote growth in outlying areas. Central Park doesn’t serve as a concession to a borough for failing to connect a subway to it. In a comparison with ferry service to Staten Island, it is a less-than flimsy example.

                  And my other example, the Brooklyn Bridge?

                  I am not aware of a single public facility in New York City that is open to all but charges access fees only to nonresidents. Are you? Your proposal to charge a Staten Island Ferry fare to only nonresidents is largely if not entirely unprecedented. How is the Staten Island Ferry different from every other New York City public facility, that charges the same price to residents and nonresidents alike?

                  Your “concession” argument is strange (or flimsy, if I may adopt your terminology). There have been proposals to extend the subway to Staten Island in 1912 and 1939, and I suppose that, if you moved to Staten Island in response to one of those proposals, you could make an argument that you’re entitled to a concession. But if, like most Staten Island residents, you arrived more recently, it’s hard to argue that you’re entitled to any form of concession – if you made the conscious decision to live in a part of the city without subway service (and probably pay lower housing costs as a result), how are you in any way entitled to a concession from others who made the conscious decision to live near the subway?

                  Commuters are the lifeblood of this city. If you don’t think your commute is subsidized by the taxpayers, then you have your head way too far up your ass for me to bother continuing with this exchange. If you don’t even have a commute, then I’m not interested in the view from your bubble.
                  Feel free to grace us with your last screed on this subject … however feeble that may be.

                  Every subsidy has net givers and net takers. At the local level, a lot of New Yorkers are net givers – in other words, they pay more toward the subsidy than they receive. They have every reason and right to question whether the subsidy makes sense.

                  It’s pretty well known that the U.S. is facing a transportation funding crisis. Current transportation subsidies are primarily politically motivated, but we simply can’t afford the political approach anymore.

  16. Michael Sherrell says:

    Just a few things to add about the question of increased ferry service to/from Staten Island, at all hours.

    1) Staten Islanders unlike residents of the other four boroughs (until the free ferry in 1997) had NO FREE access to ANY of the other boroughs. There are NO bridges or pedestrian crossings that are free, unlike the connections between the other boroughs.

    2) Staten Islanders are CITY RESIDENTS, and like city residents can petition their city government for city services, and the Staten Island Ferry IS a city service. It would be one thing if it were Hoboken – a separate city petitioning for NYC services – but Staten Island is a part of NYC, even if it is the often forgotten borough.

    3) When it comes to mass transit in the NYC Region, the majority was opened or operated by private companies prior to the 1930/40’s that went bankrupt and are now run by public authorities. Meaning that if a transit pathway was not built by then, there is little chance of it being built today. The plans to connect Staten Island to the rest of NYC by rail transit died due to bankruptcy. A transit situation similar to the rest of the region. The Staten Island Ferry used to be run by a private company, and was taken over by NYC, shortly after Greater NYC was established in 1898. Sounds familiar with the majority of subway and transit history in NYC.

    4) At all hours of the day by subway, the longest one has to wait for scheduled service is 20 minutes even to the distant Far Rockaway area. Until 1974 under then Mayor Koch – the midnight hour ferry schedule was a boat every 30 minutes, with boats running at 20 minutes apart for most of the day and evening. The city’s fiscal crisis brought about the basics of the current schedule of 30 minute and hourly boats brought to us by Mayor Koch. So this schedule change is a kind of restoration that is VERY LONG OVERDUE. and

    5) On weekend nights, Mayor Bloomberg could have easily adjusted the schedule having a 30 minute wait time until 11pm or so, and then hourly until the early morning 5 or 6am – and most riders would have accepted the schedule. However keeping the early hourly wait time – just increased the push to change the schedule.

    6) The budget impact of such a ferry schedule change, according to NYC-DOT estimates of 3.5 million in 2004, is a tiny fraction of a city budget that is several billion. The fare collection of 50 cents in 1997 came no-where near close to paying for the rides. Nor did such a fare collection have any impact on the schedule. When riders paid 10 cents there were more boats on the schedule (20 day-time and 30 minute midnight hour waits for boats). When the ferry riders paid 25 cents there were fewer boats on the schedule with 30 and 60 minute waits for the boats, when the ferry fare was increased to 50 cents circa 1990 it was the same schedule with 30 and 60 minute waits for boats. Having a fare for the ferry says nothing about the amount of service. The ferry ride was subsidized then, and is still subsidized – the charged fare barely accounted for collecting the charged fare, as admitted by NYC-DOT.

    7) Mayor Rudy G.’s “one-city one-fare” along with the MTA Gold MetroCard allowed the MTA to provide a series of subway and bus transfers that eased the commutes of millions of subway and bus riders. Ending for plenty of riders two-fare, and for some three-fare travel zones. Most Staten Islanders who ride the ferry must take a city bus or subway, or SIR to complete their journey, meaning few additional fares would be collected. At the same broadening the appeal of using the subways and buses for more than just work trips.

    8) This was not the first veto-proof vote that the NYC City Council held on the ferry schedule, and their demand for 30 minute 24/7/365 as the longest wait time. So it is not as if this issue blind-sided anyone! Pressure has been building for the schedule change for a long time.

    • Lady Feliz says:

      Thank you for a very detailed, measured and intelligent comment. The amount of anti-Staten Island BS on this thread is astounding, especially from Crybaby Andrew.

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