TRENTON – A bill, sponsored by Senator Joseph V. Doria and Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny, Jr. which would allow the New Jersey Transit Authority to acquire and operate passenger ferries was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today.
“Considering the financial collapse of the New York Waterway ferry company, which has jeopardized mass transit for hundreds, if not thousands of commuters in northern New Jersey, we need to allow the Transit Authority to step in where needed and pick up the slack,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson. “The Transit Authority has a great track record in maintaining and improving the mass transit opportunities for the people of New Jersey. We need to let them do their jobs when it comes to the ferries run from the New Jersey coast to Manhattan.”
“New York Waterway is a vital pipeline to allow New Jersey commuters easy access to and from their jobs in New York City,” said Senator Kenny, D-Hudson. “Without a thriving ferry system to take pressure off the roadways and railways, northern New Jersey could face a transit crisis. We need to take whatever steps are necessary to keep New York Waterway from going under, and if that means a New Jersey Transit takeover of operations, than so be it.”
The bill, S-2228, would amend current law to authorize New Jersey Transit to acquire and operate passenger ferry services. The bill would allow the Transit Authority to spend funds on ferry-related capital improvement projects, including ferry terminals, approach roadways, pedestrian accommodation, parking, docks, ramps and other necessary improvements. This bill is designed to address the fiscal crisis surround New York Waterway, which has lost $10 million in 2004 and $3.5 million in 2003, and has raised fares twice in the past year and a half.
“New York Waterway is sliding down a slippery slope, losing riders, raising fares, and as a result, losing still more riders,” said Senator Doria. “If action isn’t taken soon to keep the organization fiscally solvent, the real victims will be the estimated 32,000 Waterway riders who travel back and forth to the City each day.”
“New Jersey Transit has brought a winning formula to make our State’s train systems top notch, and they can bring that formula to save New York Waterway from the brink of fiscal catastrophe,” said Senator Kenny. “We need to give them the opportunity, because the alternative is a transit nightmare on the already congested roadways and railways in northern New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.