JUMPING SHIP: Bhalla Claims to Find New Ferry Operator, Should NY Waterway Stop Serving Hoboken
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla sent out a somewhat cryptic press release Tuesday evening claiming that he had spoken with the directors of one of “the tristate area’s leading ferry operators” about potential service for Hoboken.
“This afternoon, I had a very productive conversation with the leadership of one of the region’s leading ferry operators,” said Mayor Bhalla. “They assured me that if New York Waterway chose to no longer operate in Hoboken as they have threatened to do on numerous occasions, this ferry company would be willing to go through the process of becoming Hoboken’s ferry operator. This conversation is the latest proof that a ‘transportation crisis,’ as manufactured by New York Waterway, is nothing more than a blatant lie and intimidation tactic. I remain committed to both preserving the Union Dry Dock site for a public park, while also working with a ferry operator to provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation for our residents.”
BREAKING: I had productive convos w/ 1 of the region’s leading ferry operators today. They’re interested in offering service in Hoboken & if NYWW picked up & left, we have other options. NYWW claims a “transportation crisis” but it is nothing more than a lie & intimidation tactic
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) August 27, 2019
NY Waterway and the City of Hoboken are embroiled in a heated conflict over the use of Union Dry Dock—a 3.15-acre parcel of land on the Hudson River’s west bank that was purchased by NY Waterway in November 2017. The ferry company wants to use it as a fueling depot, while Hoboken wants the land to complete its contiguous public waterfront.
Bhalla’s alternative service claim comes as Hoboken signals it will move ahead on eminent domain proceedings should New York Waterway refuse to sell Union Dry Dock to the City. Meanwhile, NJ Transit has released reports that point out prohibitive flaws for other locations. The City then produced another report by Boswell Engineering that refutes those claims.
NY Waterway had sued Hoboken over the City’s imposition of a stop work order on the property. Ruling on behalf of the City in July, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Jeffery Jablonski stated that New York Waterway’s claim of a pending regional transportation crisis would occur, as “unsubstantiated.”
The regional ferry service provider faces what many claim is a self-inflicted need to vacate its current 25-acre ferry maintenance property in Weehawken. That land is being repurposed for residential properties, and was owned by Arthur Imperatore, Sr.—owner of New York Waterway.
Operating since 1986, New York Waterway has run regional ferry service on the Hudson River—serving passengers in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken and beyond. One-way tickets currently cost in the vicinity of $10 per passenger, per ride.
In addition to Hoboken political entities, other Hudson County Elected Officials—including Senator Brian Stack, Senator Nick Sacco, County Executive Tom DeGise, and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop—wrote a letter to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy supporting Hoboken Terminal as a more suitable location than Union Dry Dock.
Furthermore, a group of 15 environmental organizations recently signed a letter asking Governor Murphy to take into account a recently law (S-1074) strengthening public access to beaches in his decisions on Union Dry Dock.
“We the undersigned, on behalf of the citizens and elected officials of Hudson County, urge you to show the people of NJ that not only did you sign the S-1074 legislation you are enforcing it and putting it into action in protecting Hoboken Cove allowing the City of Hoboken to finalize a 30 year vision of giving the waterfront back to the people,” reads the letter, penned by Fund For A Better Waterfront.