NY Waterway statement about UDD (update)

[We feel that abusing eminent domain for what amounts to “luxury recreation” is wrong on all levels. They’re essentially using eminent domain purely for political purposes. Remember, WANTS are a whole lot different than NEEDS. The politicians that support these proposed parks are acting like spoiled children, and not level-headed adults.]

A Message from Arthur E. Imperatore
To the Hoboken City Council

On behalf of the thousands of New Jersey commuters who ride NY Waterway ferries every day, and on behalf of the thousands of additional commuters who take our ferries when other mass transit systems are disrupted, I urge the leaders of Hoboken:

Do not try to take our property at Union Dry Dock away from us.

NY Waterway must have this facility to maintain our ferry fleet, our +99 percent on-time performance record and our ability to respond in an emergency.

We must and we will fight to protect our right to operate a ferry maintenance facility on this property, which we purchased last year for $11.5 million. We conducted a comprehensive 10-year search and this is the right location for this vitally-needed facility.

The Union Dry Dock site has been used as a marine repair facility for more than a century. It is the only available site with the zoning required for NY Waterway to operate. There is no other available and suitable facility than Union Dry Dock with deep water, piers and heavy electrical power.

It is right in the middle of NY Waterway’s core operating area, with commuter ferry routes operating from eight ferry terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City. This central location helps us control our operating costs.

More important, it means our ferries are in the right place in an emergency, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the 2003 blackout, the 2005 transit strike, Superstorm Sandy and countless disruptions to other transit systems. When these systems go down, NY Waterway must deploy extra ferries to carry more people on an emergency basis. We are part of the public mass transit system.

Because of recent track problems which disrupted other public transit, NY Waterway ferries have carried hundreds of thousands of additional passengers in the last year. In the latest example of a weather emergency, our ferries were pressed into additional service March 7 when a winter storm forced NJ TRANSIT to suspend all bus operations.

NY Waterway can’t provide that type of emergency service if our ferries are docked more than eight miles away in Bayonne. That’s 45 minutes running time. And that doesn’t count the time it would take to get our crews to Bayonne.

No passenger ferry service in the New York area has a maintenance facility more than two miles away from its core service area.

Moving our ferry docking and maintenance facility to the remote Bayonne site would add more than $3 million per year to the cost of our operations. Since NY Waterway receives no operating subsidy from the government, we must pass on this $3 million cost to our customers in the form of higher fares.

No viable site for this maintenance facility has been identified and no one has addressed the actual cost of preparing a site and forcing us to move there – a cost which would be tens and tens of millions of dollars beyond what you are authorizing. And it would require years to prepare another site as well equipped as Union Dry Dock.

Who will pay these costs?

Hoboken taxpayers?

All New Jersey taxpayers in the form of state funding?

And who will pay the further costs of converting this site to parkland?

You should answer these questions and consider the consequences before you proceed.

Once more, I urge the Hoboken Mayor and City Council: Let NY Waterway keep its property at the Union Dry Dock site and use this property to give our customers, and all the people of the region, the best ferry service possible.

NY Waterway statement about UDD Hoboken NJ

See the previous message from late last year below.

NY Waterway statement about UDD

12/13/2017:

While outgoing “mayor” Zimmer and incoming “mayor” Ravi “Pay to Play” Bhalla put on a show griping about parks (for more people to jump into the Hudson), smart business people talk about societal impacts of regional transportation. Read the NY Waterway statement about UDD (Union Dry Dock) below.

Statement by Arthur E. Imperatore

President & Founder, NY Waterway
Before the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors
December 13, 2017

I started the ferry in 1986 when no one thought it would work; it was known as Arthur’s Folly.

In spite of no operating subsidies from NJ, our service caught on because of the certainty of departure and arrival and being the key.

Our system has caught on up and down the river from Fort Lee throughout East Bergen, North Hudson and South Hudson, including Jersey City. We now have 17 terminals through which we move over 30,000 people a day. People will pay a small premium over the thru-costs of subsidized public transit for our service. We have loyal ridership dating back from the first week 31 years ago.
Our ferry system has become a public asset because of its history of reliable service, safety and careful attention to detail by our people. We are the best in our field!

Our system has created enormous value and accretion to property values in surrounding areas to each ferry terminal simply because of access to the ferry.

Our people are the key to our success; highly trained, highly disciplined – operated almost as a military organization with all its disciplines. Training for safety goes on almost constantly, considering our burden of responsibility to protect life and safety. Our people are chosen carefully and inculcated in meticulous detail to follow our stringent rules in every way for customer safety and enjoyable travel. This is the key to our success: competence, commitment and the loyalty of our employees.
We have moved several hundred million people without a fatality. I estimate we get 1,000 compliments to every complaint and every complaint is examined to the full for possible employee or corporate failure.

We have handled countless emergencies, including evacuation after the 1993 bombing of the WTC, the 9/11 terrorist attack, the 2003 blackout, the US Airways Flight 1549 rescue and countless breakdowns of the PATH system. This week we were called on once again by NJT when a terrorist event took place at the PABT subway tunnel.

We operate in close partnership with NJT, serving every ancillary need, especially in emergency conditions. The positioning and berthing of a central ferry base with fueling, dockage and maintenance is essential to its efficiency and its timeliness to respond to any emergency and perform our daily routine. Boat maintenance is highly demanding and refined. We have developed one of the finest maintenance staffs in the business. Our relations with our team of people and their Union representatives is excellent. The morale, cooperation and support are superb because of the feeling of communal involvement in our work of making 2,000 or more trips per day in commuter service and we are thankful for the support and loyalty of our customers.

The UDD location had long been viewed by us and various leaders of NJT as the only logical, ideally positioned geographic location that is available to us. There are no other alternatives possible between Nyack, NY, and Bayonne, NJ. Boat maintenance, dispatch, crew control, fueling and all aspects of seamanship must be from a central location and the UDD location is in the center of our operating map, equidistant to the north and south areas which we serve. Efficiency and control are essential for orderly dispatch on daily assignments. Moving boats into position for service can be very costly, time-consuming and disruptive to the quality of our service, hence, we strive to create the most efficient conditions possible. UDD will afford us the opportunity to create a paradigm of a ferry maintenance base for decades to come. Should ownership change by reason of the takeover of the property by NJT and the State of NJ, this will always serve as the most ideal and logical base between the Weehawken ferry terminal and the Hoboken train station. This location will protect the long-term interests of the public, regardless of who the ferry operator is, thereby protecting the enormous public investment already having been made in those two trans-Hudson locations and the future of the trans-Hudson system. With the old Pennsylvania Railroad tunnels requiring repair and renovation, the need for new rail tunnels to be constructed and the need to rehabilitate and to increase the capacity of the PABT pose highly uncertain potential disruptions to the constantly increasing need to service the growing demand for trans-Hudson commutation capacity. Ferries are the only alternative to provide a safety valve and this factor has been recognized by NJT for many years, along with the PANYNJ.

At this time, we are strongly confirmed as a regional public asset, essential to the public interest, supplementing the public mass transit systems in place presently and as they may be later expanded. We have a team of perfectionists that come to work daily to do their best to uphold the highest traditions of customer service and safety and our record so speaks. UDD is essential to its continuance.

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