ST. GEORGE, Staten Island (PIX11) — Severe disruptions to Staten Island Ferry service continued into Thursday with trips expected to run just once an hour, as the city Department of Transportation urged commuters to seek alternative ways of getting around.
Service was reduced to hourly trips at 3 p.m. Wednesday and ceased altogether between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday due to significant staffing shortages, apparently connected to ongoing union negotiations. The overnight closure marked the first total suspension of service since Superstorm Sandy, according to New York City Emergency Management. When service did resume Thursday morning, ferries were running every hour rather than every 15 minutes as usual, a slashed schedule expected to continue at least through Thursday, Emergency Management said.
Disruptions had hampered service for weeks due to the dispute, but came to a head Wednesday. Mayor Eric Adams had hoped that service would resume at regular 15-minute intervals starting at 5 a.m. Thursday, but the DOT warned in an overnight tweet to expect the effects to continue into the morning commute.
“There will be continued limited service on the #StatenIslandFerry into [Thursday] morning’s (8/4) rush hour,” the agency wrote, not specifying exactly how limited the service was expected to be. “We strongly recommend New Yorkers seek alternate modes of public transit, such as @nycferryand @nyctbus. The #SIFerry should be used for essential travel only.”
To help mitigate the disruption, NYC Ferry is offering free direct trips between Battery Maritime Building Slip 5 in Manhattan to the NYC Ferry St. George Terminal landing on Staten Island, starting at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Those ferries will run every 15 minutes directly to Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan, according to Emergency Management.
Additionally, the MTA is increasing bus service to Staten Island on the SIM1/SIM1C (Hylan Boulevard), SIM3/SIM3C (Port Richmond) and SIM4/SIM4C (Richmond Avenue) routes.
Staten Island-bound customers can also take a Brooklyn-bound R train from Whitehall Street-South Ferry to 86th Street and 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. From there, they can go to Staten Island by taking the S79 SBS, S53 or S93 bus.
“We are prepared to help customers get to and from Staten Island safely and efficiently during this Staten Island Ferry service disruption,” MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer Shanifah Rieara said in a statement. “The MTA will be communicating our bolstered service through social media, across digital screens, our website, along with additional staff present at the ferry terminal to direct riders to the route that’s best for them.”
Ferry workers have been locked in negotiations for 11 years, Adams said Wednesday, nevertheless calling on them to get back on the job.
“If you are not sick, New Yorkers need you to come back to work,” the mayor said. “We will continue to engage with these ferry workers’ union to reach a voluntary, pattern-conforming agreement in the same way that we have done with virtually all other city unions for these rounds of bargaining.”
PIX11 News previously reached out to the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association trade union for comment.