TZB Transit Alternative: Expand Ferry Service

Governor Cuomo has worked with the federal government to “fast track” the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement environmental review. Planning will speed along and the project could be ready for groundbreaking by fall 2012. No funding sources have been secured. Rockland County and Westchester County residents were shocked to learn that the originally planned-for mass transit component of the project was dropped from the expedited environment review. Ten years of planning for cross-Hudson rail or bus rapid transit evaporated in a matter of days. Instead, the bridge will contain 8 full lanes of traffic, shoulders, emergency lanes and one pedestrian corridor comprising a bridge that is roughly 200 feet wide on two separate spans. . . There are a lot of angry New Yorkers these days.

What is absent from the current conversation and in calls for including transit on the new span are suggestions for either expanding existing rail service, speeding up existing service, creating new rail service west-of-Hudson, or expanding existing ferry service, most notably the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry. The ferry has been operating since 2000, whisking hundreds of passengers each day across the wide Haverstraw Bay to the Ossining MetroNorth railroad station. There, passengers switch to a Grand Central-bound train. The entire trip to Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan, including the ferry ride, clocks in at under one hour. This is the fastest way to midtown from the northern half of Rockland County and parts of southeastern Orange County.

One of the cheapest and quickly-implemented options for expanded transit from Rockland is expanding the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry route to accommodate midday, late-night, and weekend riders. Better bus connections from Ossining to White Plains and other job centers in Westchester County may prove a boost to ridership on the ferry service. Outside of morning and evening rush hours, the ferry could run every 90 minutes to meet an express train to Grand Central. This would not only boost property values in Haverstraw and Ossining, but would solve part of the problem that a transit-less Tappan Zee Bridge would create.

I, personally, have dreamed for the opportunity to reach Haverstraw from New York and vice versa during late-night hours and on weekends. An afternoon or evening run on Sundays would benefit the hundreds of student-age and young adult travelers that visit Rockland parents on weekends. Those Rocklanders looking for a day in the City would likely opt to take the ferry service as it cuts out costly tolls, gasoline costs, parking costs, and the headache of battling traffic. I have noted previously on HaverstrawLife that there is a market for attracting NYC and Westchester residents to Haverstraw’s emerging culinary, cultural, recreation, and arts scene. Limited ferry service has been an impediment to this opportunity. NYC residents are always looking for unique day trips into the Hudson Valley. With expanded ferry service, Haverstraw could become one of the major hiking meccas within close proximity of Manhattan. The opportunities here are limitless. Just expand the ferry service, and do it soon.

Contact your New York State representatives to demand better cross-Hudson ferry service from Rockland County:

Senator David Carlucci
95 South Middletown Road

Nanuet, NY 10954

Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski
67 North Main Street
New City, NY 10956
Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun
1012 Little Britain Rd.
Suite 900
New Windsor, NY 12553
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
1 Blue Hill Plaza, Ste. 1116
POB 1549
Pearl River, NY 10965

4 thoughts on “TZB Transit Alternative: Expand Ferry Service

  1. Let it be noted that this is NOT the only option. While I’ve advocated for transit on the new TZB as a major step in connecting the region, there are other steps that we can take to improve service. Restoring the West Shore Railroad, the Northern Branch, the Pascack Valley Line, and increasing cross-Hudson Ferry service can do a lot reduce traffic on area roads. These options should be considered as traffic mitigating projects – these projects should be linked with the TZB Project.

  2. I agree. Moreover, look at what Jersey City did with the installation of a light rail solution. Why can’t the former Erie (NY &NJ RR) right of way be reclaimed and used for the same purpose. A light rail system could move passengers all day long from the Village through West Haverstraw, Thiells, Mt. Ivy, Pomona and on to connect with the Pascack Valley line as it once did in the past.

    Most of the right of way is just a path through woods. There are a few places where obstructions would now have to be overcome such as reconstructing a grade crossing over Route 202 and rebuilding a bridge over the creek along Suffern Lane.

    These trains are smooth, efficient and quiet. They would provide a great alternative for commuters.

    1. Absolutely. Check out this post in which I describe the old NY&NJ railroad right-of-way, which is definitely in tact. There are a few homes in the way today in West Haverstraw and elsewhere, and the 9W grade crossing would also be somewhat difficult (dealing with a lot of agencies). I think a light rail connection to the Spring Valley train station is a fantastic idea. No one is thinking like this – we need lots of options, and we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket like waiting on rail over the Tappan Zee Bridge.

  3. As gasoline prices climb – we are going to need these alternatives. If we can’t get something like this in place – our homes are going to worth nothing, if no one can get anywhere from them. I like the idea of being able to catch a ferry at all times from Haverstraw – it would be verry convenient for me to do this since I work odd times.

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