Boat People: NY Waterway Fails On Dry Land

The first week of reduced service after 7:00 am on the Morris-Essex train line, with its cascading domino-effect of unpredictable after effects.

One item that should be clear: the highly touted New York Waterway service is hardly a cure for a decades-long regional infrastructure failure.

NY Waterway’s idyllic boat rides are nice. In the summer. And relatively quick, as long as you’re on the water.
The ferry, tapping into the utopian fantasies of European centralized urban planners, uses the best infrastructure: natural waterways.However, the ferry boats themselves are not environmentally friendly. They burn diesel and belch acrid black smoke.

As for “convenience”?

The problem is getting to and from the ferry. The boat ride itself might be ten minutes on the water. There are few delays but the wake from larger ships or barges on the Hudson can hold a boat back for a minute or so.

So it should be a quicker commute, right?Not at all, is the surprising answer. The ferry ride is $9 one way (midtown Manhattan; downtown is $13), but the problem is the part of NY waterway’s free service: the connecting buses on both sides of the Hudson.

The problem is you get what you pay for. And when you pay nothing, you get — nothing.
Bus service is sporadic and poorly spaced out. A 10-20 minute wait for a bus under any conditions in rush hour means it can be 30-45 minutes from your front door until you actually get on the boat.
The other problem is the other side.  In Manhattan, all surface transit must cope with crosstown traffic, again resulting in an agonizingly slow commute. Worse, the few NY Waterway buses can get scrunched together, again causing 10-20 minute waits for “free” buses. In rush hour.
The net result?Commuters face a three-seat commute from Hudson and Bergen counties that can easily run 75-90 minutes.

These are commutes one would expect to face traveling from faraway western or central New Jersey, Putnam County, Connecticut or Suffolk County.

They are not the commutes that residents living in nearby Hudson and Bergen counties bargained for, less than ten miles from midtown Manhattan.
Our verdict?
If you really need to get into Manhattan at a certain time, you are either driving in (yes, tolls and parking add up) or giving yourself at least 90 minutes to get to your destination.
Ninety minutes? That’s the driving time from Newark Airport — to Philadelphia!
Who would’ve imagined that?
What do you think?
Below is a video from the Ferry Program with NJ Transit (youtube)

About The Author

Related posts