I have sad news to report. Amid the depressed regional and national economy, another bright spot in Haverstraw is no more. The New York Water Taxi service, that ferries commuters between Haverstraw, Yonkers, and Lower Manhattan, is facing the budgetary chopping block. Unless the State Legislature can find funds to support the ferry’s dwindling on-board revenues (the bad economy is sucking jobs out of Manhattan), the ferry will be terminated on May 1, 2009. Rockland County has worked very diligently to supply Rockland commuters with a “one-seat” ride to Manhattan via ferry. The County is choosing their words carefully when they say the service will be “suspended,” hinting that they may reinstate the services when the economy rebounds. This suspension does not affect the wildly successful New York Waterway ferry services that operates from Haverstraw to Ossining. Unfortunately, by the time the economy does rebound, we will be facing $5.00 gasoline once again, and this time, we’ll be LESS prepared. Thank you New York State!
Here’s a clip from the Water Taxi’s recent Press Release:
New York, NY – New York Water Taxi (NYWT) will suspend commuter service on its Hudson River Line between Haverstraw (Rockland County) and the World Financial Center and Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Lower Manhattan effective Friday, May 1, 2009 while additional funding sources are being explored.
The service was originally launched as a pilot program in September 2007 to test the viability of direct waterborne transportation service between Haverstraw and Lower Manhattan. Between 2008 and 2009 there has been a 30% increase in ridership on the route.
”This ferry service has been providing our commuters with a valuable one-seat-ride to Lower Manhattan – a travel option Rockland County has worked diligently to establish,” said C. Scott Vanderhoef, County Executive. “We have made tremendous efforts to secure operating funds to sustain and grow this service, but to date, have been unable to secure additional funding.
This service is a pilot project, and has successfully demonstrated that with regional cooperation, the logistics of a Hudson Valley to Manhattan ferry service are achievable. In the future, with a revitalized employment market in Lower Manhattan and increased availability of funding, we hope to be able to resume service.”
New York Water Taxi will continue to run service between Yonkers and Lower Manhattan. Frequency of service is currently being examined. Also, please see another, more optimistic quote from riders and officials:
“I don’t think it was doomed to fail,” Water Taxi President Tom Fox said. “Everybody thought we would be able to continue it by getting additional funding, but the (economic) climate changed.”
David Simpson, a spokesman for Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, said ridership had been growing steadily in the city, and with peak season approaching, it was important to keep the ferries running.
“To be a brand-new service, we’re right where we expected to be in terms of ridership,” he said.
Yonkers is looking for $3.5 million, which will cover operating costs for another three years. It is working with Westchester County to secure federal stimulus dollars.
There is still some money left to keep service going in Yonkers, but officials are looking for ways to stretch those dollars, which might lead to fewer ferry runs.
Vinnie Wilson, who catches the ferry from Yonkers, was hopeful not only that all of the Yonkers runs would survive, but also that service to Rockland eventually would return.
“We need to look a little past what’s going on right now,” said Wilson, a marketing project manager for American Express. “If we don’t invest in the future, we’ll be facing the same problems again.”