Ferries prepared to take on sea of frustrated NJ Transit riders
No traffic. Next to no delays. An awesome view. And, during the summer, some bonus time to take in a few rays and a cool breeze off the water.
Thousands of New Jersey-to-New York commuters could be trading the rails for the seas in the months ahead as ferries take care of NJ Transit passengers affected by extensive repair work at New York Penn Station.
Plagued by a pair of recent derailments and other failures, select tracks owned by Amtrak will be off-limits to riders during peak travel times from July 10 to Sept. 1.
So almost all Morris & Essex Line passengers, who would normally take the rails straight to the Empire State, are getting diverted to Hoboken, where buses, ferries and PATH rides will be cross-honoring tickets. NJ Transit is offering significantly discounted ticket prices.
NY Waterway, a private company, said its ferries are ready for the anticipated rush of additional customers over the summer.
"We're probably running at about 30 percent capacity right now, so we have the room," NY Waterway spokeswoman Jennifer Schuck told New Jersey 101.5.
The company is cross-honoring only to/from Hoboken Terminal, which offers two downtown routes and a specially-created midtown route that will be devoted only to NJ Transit riders.
"We hope they love their ferry experience," Schuck said. "It's just a great alternative to the train and the buses and all the delays."
According to Schuck, NY Waterway has already seen an increase in ridership on a number of its routes over the past couple of months — the same time frame in which Amtrak, NJ Transit and the state have engaged in a blame game over who's at fault for the equipment's disrepair. The exact reasons for the uptick in riders, however, are unknown.
SeaStreak, which offers 38-minute rides to NYC from Monmouth County, has also experienced a spike in ridership, and additional increases are expected, according to marketing director Brett Chamberlain.
"The delays that are happening now with NJ Transit drive more customers to Sea Streak; we think we'll keep most of them," Chamberlain said. "Once customers have tried the ferry, they tend to come back."
Chamberlain said all SeaStreak vessels are certified for a certain number of passengers, but they are rarely at full capacity.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.