Volume 23, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 21 - 27, 2010
Photo courtesy of Statue Cruises
Statue Cruise’s ferry “Miss Freedom” can carry up to 564 passengers.
Ferries may provide solution when 9/11 memorial opens
BY Aline Reynolds
Two ferries connecting New York and New Jersey might help accommodate the surge of tourists visiting the new 9/11 Museum and Memorial when it opens next year.
Private ferry operator Statue Cruises plans to expand service once there is an increased demand, the purpose being to decrease congestion around the World Trade Center site.
“Miss Gateway” will transport 500 passengers every half hour and “Freedom” will carry 430 passengers every half hour. The two new services will be an addition to the existing ferry ride, “Little Lady 2,” which shuttles 150 or so passengers every half hour to and from Liberty State Park in New Jersey and the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. The under 5-minute ride will be primarily set up for regional tour bus passengers from around the tri-state area.
Ferry riders have scenic views of the New York and New Jersey harbors from the boat’s upper deck.
“This may be a more attractive and enjoyable route than the PATH or bus in traffic in the Holland Tunnel,” said Michael Burke, chief operating officer and vice president of Statue Cruises.
Burke presented the plans to the Community Board 1 W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee meeting last week.
Statue Cruise’s mission is “to propose practical, effective and hospitality-focused tour services appropriate to the venue,” according to the presentation. The company will soon be touching base with its affiliates, the American Bus Tour Association and the National Tour Association, among others, to propose packaged deals for tourists.
Once the three ferries are up and running, Statue Cruise’s total fleet will be able to transport upwards of 9,600 passengers, a capacity second only to the Staten Island Ferry.
Tour buses can drop off passengers heading to New York at Liberty State Park, which has parking capacity for hundreds of cars and more than 120 buses. Ferry passengers will kick off their tour of the W.T.C. on the boat ride itself, where they will be offered video and audio guides about the history of the site and 9/11 as they traverse the Hudson River. “If there is enough volume, we’d consider a tour operator,” Burke said at the C.B. 1 meeting.
The ferries will arrive at the Port Authority World Financial Center Terminal, where visitors will have a three-minute stroll to the W.T.C site. The trip will cost $5.50 one-way and $11 round trip.
Catherine McVay Hughes, co-chair of the committee, supported the proposal.
“On a gorgeous day, when the windows are clean and you can see the Manhattan skyline, it’s an amazing ride,” she said, having traversed the Hudson by ferry in the past.
That being said, Hughes and other committee members are eager to see the alternative travel options to the future W.T.C. site.
“The community board wants a comprehensive plan on how they’re going to address the traffic and pedestrian flow when the memorial opens at the 10-year anniversary,” she said, particularly since the site’s Vehicle Security Center, which will help oversee traffic at the site, is not expected to be open in time for the memorial.
“We can’t leave any stone unturned in putting the proposal together,” Hughes added. “Every viable component has to be looked at.”
The Committee will soon be meeting with the Port Authority and the Department of Transportation. They will work together to come up with various transportation methods to and from the site.
Committee members inquired about alternative methods to the site, to which Burke replied that there will be bus tours regularly dropping off visitors at the site itself. The new ferry service will be “one way to mitigate bus congestion in Lower Manhattan,” he said, which the committee was pleased to hear.
Statue Cruises, founded in 2008, carries around 4.2 million passengers annually across the New York Harbor. It operates boats that carry passengers to and from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It is a subsidiary of Hornblower Cruises and Events, the largest passenger vessel operator on the East Coast.