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Mayor de Blasio Announces Start of Lower-Level Boarding at Staten Island Ferry

September 18, 2017

Returning today for the first time since 2004, lower-level boarding will speed departures and add convenience; Mayor promised change when City Hall in Your Borough came to Staten Island in April

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that effective this morning, lower-level boarding had returned to the Staten Island Ferry. The change, in effect for the morning rush hours at St George Terminal on Staten Island and during afternoons and evenings at Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan, comes as the Staten Island Ferry has seen record ridership – with expected further growth with Staten Island North Shore development.

“Earlier this year, we announced that lower-level boarding would return to the Staten Island Ferry for the first time in thirteen years and today, DOT has delivered,” said Mayor de Blasio.  “These changes will get ferries from the docks a bit faster and reduce congestion at the ferry terminals during the busiest times of the day.  Thanks to Borough President Jimmy Oddo for his strong advocacy of this change, which Staten Islanders and its growing number of visitors can expect will make the trip across the harbor a bit more relaxed.”

Mayor de Blasio had promised the change when City Hall in Your Borough came to Staten Island this past April. As of this morning, passengers entering the kiss-and-ride entrance to the St. George Terminal will be able to board the ferry on the lower level, a change now in effect from 6:40 to 9 a.m. on weekdays only. At the Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan, lower-level boarding will be allowed from 12 to 8 p.m. on both weekdays and weekends.

“A ride on the Staten Island Ferry is now an indispensable part of the New York City tourist experience, but for Staten Islanders, the ferry itself is simply indispensable, and every minute saved commuting on it really counts,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “We are happy to be able to bring improvements that will speed departures and relieve crowding.  We offer our thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Oddo for their leadership -- and to our hard-working Ferries team who put these changes into action.”

With over 65,000 daily commuters, Staten Island Ferry ridership has reached record levels.  Lower-level boarding on the ferry was discontinued in 2004 when new Federal regulations passed after 9/11 required new protocols, including security screening and mandates that embarking and disembarking passengers be kept separate at all times. The change implemented today maintains all those safety protocols, and was officially approved by the U.S. Coast Guard last month.  DOT noted that the new boarding configuration could go through changes and adjustments in the months ahead – and asks regular commuters to sign up for email updates and alerts on ferry service changes.  Ferry alerts are also posted on DOT's Twitter and Facebook pages.

“In January I ruined the Mayor’s appetizers at our dinner at Aunt Butchies when I harangued him again about this issue,” said Borough President Oddo.  “This is great news and will make a challenging commute a bit more manageable for Ferry riders.”

"Thank you to Borough President Jimmy Oddo for his advocacy on bringing lower-level boarding back to the ferry," said State Senator Diane Savino. "Commuting daily can often be a tedious and grueling task; any minute that Staten Islanders can save to reduce their trip time is crucial. These changes, along with the half-hour service around the clock, are steps to ensure Staten Island ferry riders will arrive at their destination on time." 

“The increase in ferry ridership is a sign of the economic renaissance of Staten Island. I’m heartened that Mayor de Blasio is listening and being responsive to the ferry riders’ needs and quality of life,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone.

“As both the population and popularity of the North Shore continues to grow, so too is ferry ridership. Lower level boarding will help reduce congestion and speed the boarding process during the weekday rush hours. Similar to the more frequent ferry service we implemented three years ago and the three new ferry boats under construction, my hope is that the step we are taking today makes the ride to and from Manhattan a little easier for our commuters,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

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