March 29, 2023
New Vessel for Governors Island Will Be First Public Hybrid Ferry of its Kind in New York Harbor, Reducing Emissions by 600 Tons per Year and Ultimately Nearly Eliminating Them
Citywide Naming Competition Launches Online Today
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Trust for Governors Island President and CEO Clare Newman today introduced New York City’s first public, hybrid-electric ferry. The first vessel of its kind to provide public transportation within New York Harbor, the new ferry will be equipped with a hybrid propulsion system that will reduce air pollution by allowing it to toggle between zero-emission battery-only power and battery-assisted hybrid with diesel backup. The battery-assist mode will allow the new ferry to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 600 tons annually. Future plans for rapid vessel charging installation will enable the ferry to operate with zero-emission battery-only propulsion, at which point emissions will drop to nearly zero.
Ahead of the ferry’s launch, Mayor Adams and the Trust launched a citywide competition to name the new vessel. All New Yorkers are invited to participate by suggesting names on the Governors Island website from today until May 25, 2023, with the final name expected to be announced in summer of 2023. The new ferry will begin transporting passengers to Governors Island in summer of 2024.
“Visiting Governors Island is a great way to support cutting-edge climate solutions, and soon, visitors will be able to go one step further just by traveling there,” said Mayor Adams. “As New Yorkers transition to greener forms of transportation, the city and our partners are leading the way with cleaner, more efficient ways to go just about anywhere. The next generation deserves a green city and a vibrant Governors Island, and this first-of-its-kind ferry will help us deliver both.”
“Governors Island continues its commitment to a more accessible and environmentally friendly future, exemplified in today’s announcement of the first hybrid-electric ferry in its fleet for public transportation,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “I encourage all New Yorkers to use this new, cleaner ferry to visit the island in New York Harbor beginning next summer.”
“This hybrid ferry marks a historic step forward in expanding access to Governors Island while promoting state-of-the-art and sustainable technology to power our ferry fleet,” said Trust for Governors Island President and CEO Newman. “Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors board our vessels and journey to Governors Island to experience our rich recreational, cultural, and educational resources. We are thrilled to make the journey easier for our visitors while helping to lead the charge in electrifying the vessels of New York Harbor.”
External rendering of the new, hybrid Governors Island Ferry. Credit: Elliott Bay Design Group
Internal rendering of the new, hybrid Governors Island Ferry. Credit: Elliott Bay Design Group
The new ferry will have capacity to serve up to 1,200 passengers at a time. It has a cruising speed of 10 knots and features modern passenger amenities, including a lower-level ADA-accessible lounge and restrooms on each level.
It will replace the diesel-powered Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, the Trust’s current vehicle and passenger ferry, which was commissioned by the U.S. Army in 1956 and has been in continuous use since.
Elliott Bay Design Group designed the hybrid-electric ferry and will provide technical support services to the Trust as the ferry progresses through construction. The ferry is under construction at Conrad Shipyard’s facility in Morgan City, Louisiana.
“All aboard for healthier air and a reduction in the emissions that are causing climate change,” said Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “In order to slow the changes in our climate that we are already seeing, such as record-breaking and deadly storms, we must have all hands on deck, and we applaud today’s announcement from Mayor Adams and the Trust for Governors Island.”
“I can’t wait to ride my city’s first public, hybrid-electric ferry, which will offer a scenic ride to Governors Island’s future Center for Climate Solutions, as we enjoy cleaner air and our city’s greatest physical asset: its water,” said Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Director Kizzy Charles-Guzman. “This is a shining example of New York City leading by example.”
“Ferries are a vital part of transportation infrastructure, lasting 40 to 60 years or more. At Elliott Bay Design Group we work closely with our clients and their teams to ensure the vessel is fit for purpose and engineered to match a long life,” said John W. Waterhouse, principal in charge, Elliott Bay Design Group. “The best clients are those that truly collaborate, so the resulting vessel shows the best of designer and client. Working with the Trust for Governors Island has been a real pleasure. We believe the vessel will be a reliable component in delivering the Governors Island experience to visitors.”
“We are excited to build and deliver this ferry to the people of New York City,” said Johnny Conrad, chairman and CEO, Conrad Shipyard. “Since Governors Island is accessible only by ferry, we are proud that the Trust for Governors Island has selected us to play such a vital role in its growth and progress. This ferry will be the first-ever hybrid vehicle and passenger ferry in New York Harbor. Conrad is proud to be at the forefront of alternate energy solutions in the marine industry.”
“In the over 20 years since I worked to secure the sale of Governors Island to New York state from the federal government for only $1, the island has continued to transform into a dynamic escape where New Yorkers can learn, work, and play,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “Today’s introduction of hybrid-electric ferry service marks another step in this transformation and underscores the island’s part in combatting the climate crisis. I look forward to the ferry’s inaugural launch in 2024 and seeing New Yorkers take advantage of all Governors Island has to offer.”
“I commend Mayor Eric Adams, the Trust for Governors Island, and Clare Newman for introducing New York City’s first public, hybrid-electric ferry,” said New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “This new cleaner, greener way of getting to and from the island will bring New York one step closer to meeting our ambitious goals to address climate change. Electrifying our watercrafts and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels must be an essential part of our strategy. My legislation, bill S2966, to fully electrify our fleet of ferries and other forms of public transit, advanced through the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee earlier this year. I look forward to working with my colleagues in government, our maritime industries and transportation providers, and other key stakeholders to promote development of these green technologies that will help establish New York as a leader in climate change, environmental conservation, and pollution reduction.”
“As we move our trains and buses into the 21st century, it is imperative we do the same for our ferry service,” said New York State Senator Nathalia Fernandez. “I applaud this initiative by the city as we are improving conditions for riders as well as reducing emissions by nearly 600 tons per year. I look forward to its maiden voyage in 2024 and the winner of the naming competition!”
“We need to combat climate change now to improve everyone’s health and save our planet. New York City is leading the charge through innovative electrification methods to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “I applaud Mayor Eric Adams and the Trust for Governors Island for implementing our city’s first hybrid ferry, which will cut down emissions — and eventually eliminate them entirely — while also modernizing and improving our public transit system that millions of New Yorkers rely on.”
“With today’s launch of New York City’s first hybrid-electric ferry, Mayor Adams is leading our city to a sustainable, zero-emissions future,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Deploying this first-of-its-kind ferry will get New Yorkers where we need to go with 600 fewer tons of carbon emissions annually and less air pollution. Before long, we will install infrastructure that will bring emissions and air pollution down to almost zero. I am pleased to partner with Mayor Adams and my Albany colleagues to promote the phasing in of zero-emission vehicles and renewable energy. Together, we will reach our goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 60 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 and ultimately down to zero.”
“New York City’s need for sustainable transportation is not just limited to its roads — our waterways need green investment too,” said New York State Assemblymember Grace Lee. “As a member of the Assembly’s committee on Environmental Conservation, I welcome the announcement of the city’s first hybrid-electric ferry, and I encourage further development of projects that will make our city livable for future generations.”
“It is great to see the expansion of the ferry service in an environmentally conscious way,” said New York State Assemblymember Michael Novakhov. “I look forward to seeing further expansion of service coverage deeper into my district in Brooklyn as well as year-round service to Coney Island.”
“All New Yorkers deserve to breathe clean air,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Greening New York’s vessels and vehicles will reduce emissions and benefit communities citywide. I thank the administration for their focus on the city’s footprint as we continue to work toward a carbon-neutral New York.”
“This new hybrid ferry is not only creating greater access to one of our city’s gems, but reducing carbon emissions at the same time,” said New York City Councilmember Amanda Farías. “Its ability to serve up to 1,200 passengers at a time is another win for our local economy, allowing native New Yorkers and tourists alike to enjoy one of our city’s most unique destinations. Thank you to Mayor Eric Adams and the Trust for Governors Island for this innovative solution that I hope inspires more hybrid ferries in New York City.”
“As we continue our mission to create a more sustainable future for New York City, the introduction of this groundbreaking hybrid ferry marks a major milestone in our efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph. “With this new vessel, we are setting a new standard for public transportation in the city and demonstrating that we can prioritize both environmental responsibility and reliable service for our communities.”
“I congratulate Mayor Adams and the Trust for Governors Island on introducing New York City’s first-of-its-kind hybrid ferry,” said New York City Councilmember James F. Gennaro, chair, Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency, and Waterfronts. “This new hybrid ferry will not only bridge the gap between sustainability and efficiency, but also open up a new horizon of possibilities for transportation, where both the environment and passengers can benefit from reduced carbon emissions.”
“There is no going back,” said Tammy Meltzer, chair, Manhattan Community Board 1. “The people of Lower Manhattan have been calling for clean, quiet ferries for as long as I can remember, and the Trust for Governors Island is set to deliver. The bar has been raised, and we now look to our partners in government to help the Trust secure the funding needed to install a charging element to their Manhattan slip to realize the full benefits of this vessel. This may be the first hybrid vessel in service in our harbor, but it won’t be the last. We hope that every operator will follow the Trust’s lead for all future purchases and major overhauls.”
“RPA applauds the Trust for Governors Island for taking the lead on greener transportation modes with the city’s first hybrid-electric ferry,” said Tom Wright, president and CEO, Regional Plan Association (RPA). “Easy public access to Governors Island is vital and an issue RPA has staunchly advocated for more than three decades. We look forward to continuing to work with the Trust to advance the city and region’s environmental goals through this initiative and the forthcoming Climate Solutions Center proposal.”
“We applaud New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Trust for Governors Island President and CEO Clare Newman for introducing the first public, hybrid-electric ferry in New York Harbor,” said Julie Tighe, president, New York League of Conservation Voters. “As we move to clean up our transportation sector, this exciting new vessel will not only reduce emissions by approximately 600 tons annually compared to its predecessor — and that’s just for starters — it will also allow passengers to breathe cleaner air while serving as a green and gorgeous reminder that we’re putting fossil fuels behind us.”
“The new hybrid ferry to serve Governors Island, the first of its kind in the New York Harbor, is a sign of all that is possible for New York City and our region’s water-based transit network,” said Cortney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO, Waterfront Alliance. “Low-emissions ferries are a boon for hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists, especially children, who will benefit from clean air when riding on the water. We are excited about the island’s Center for Climate Solutions and that the Trust for Governors Island is setting an example of sustainability for other ferry systems around the harbor.”
“Trust for Public Land applauds Governors Island for adopting more sustainable access to this unique public space, which includes a TPL-invested community climbing boulder to introduce more New Yorkers to the outdoors,” said Carter Strickland, vice president, Mid-Atlantic region and New York state director, Trust for Public Land (TPL). “We know parks make cities more resilient and that access for all is essential, and that is why the Trust for Governors Island’s forward-thinking leadership today is so important in showing that transportation and access to parks can be greener and more sustainable.”
“Governors Island is an oasis and Lower Manhattan’s backyard,” said Jessica Lappin, president, Alliance for Downtown New York. “Nothing beats spending a day on the island any time of year. Whether you are going to an event, enjoying a spa experience, or taking a bike ride with friends and family, getting there is easier than ever, and we’re excited that an environmentally friendly and innovative solution has been found to increase public access.”
“The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School community is excited to learn that our new daily commute is heading in the direction of zero emissions with the introduction of this new hybrid-ferry,” said Jeffrey Chetirko, principal, Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. “Governors Island is continuing its mission to be at the forefront of climate solutions and is teaching our students, firsthand, the importance of making positive changes today for a cleaner tomorrow.”
“Billion Oyster Project and I welcome this exciting announcement by Mayor Adams and the Trust for Governors Island and what it means for our Governors Island community,” said Pete Malinowski, executive director, Billion Oyster Project. “As long-term tenants working towards a more sustainable city and harbor front, improvements like the hybrid ferry demonstrate a practical approach to bringing sustainability to all areas of our waterfront lives.”
“The new hybrid ferry is visionary, taking our city to another level of public engagement and deepening New York City’s contribution to the global conversation of climate justice and urban resilience,” said Craig T. Peterson, president, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and The Arts Center at Governors Island. “The Trust’s initiative provides more visitors with access to the rich variety of arts, educational, and recreational experiences available on the island. More importantly, it embodies a commitment to sustainable climate solutions in practice.”
“The Governors Island ferry is an essential part of the transportation infrastructure connecting the Institute for Public Architecture’s Block House and our fellows, staff, and visitors with the vibrant urban communities of New York City,” said Jonathan Kirschenfeld AIA, founder and president, Institute for Public Architecture; and Janet Fink AIA LEED AP, interim executive director, Institute for Public Architecture. “We are delighted that the city and Trust for Governors Island are leading the way towards a decarbonized, sustainable, multi-modal future with the announcement of this first public, hybrid-electric ferry.”
“We can’t wait to welcome our visitors to Governors Island aboard New York Harbor’s first public hybrid ferry,” said Patti Davis, interim executive director, Friends of Governors Island. “It’s fitting that this new, environmentally friendly ferry will be serving Governors Island, New York City’s top destination for nature lovers and climate solutions. This new ferry is a game-changer and a giant leap forward in our ongoing effort to reduce our carbon footprint.”