The fare was once a nickel; today it’s a free ride.

28 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Staten Island Ferry”

  1. The Staten Island ferry was a common Sunday outing for me. My parents would take my siblings and I, all four of us. A cheap way to entertain a big family.

    1. Of course, you still have to pay for the bus/subway ride to get to the ferry. (I’m guessing that parking, even on the Staten Island side, is not free).

      1. On a Sunday in Manhattan then, you could drive in and get free street parking with some degree of searching. There were still blue laws, so no general shops were open, and Manhattan, or “the City” as we called it, was a place that people commuted into work during the week. On weekends, much of it, like Midtown, the Bowery, was kind of a ghost town!

      2. From visiting friends in New York and environs, my impression is that much of the residential growth at the tip happened after Battery Park City opened in the 80s and 90s and the renaissance after 9/11. And people outside the city still drive to Manhattan evenings and weekends, at least sometimes.

      3. About 15 years ago, my family and I were in New Jersey with a rental car and were deciding how to get to a Mets game. We did the math and concluded that it would actually be cheaper to drive in than to take the train, but the stars had to align perfectly for driving in to make sense:

        1) This was Queens, not Manhatten, and the Mets stadium is actually surrounded by large amounts of parking. We ended up paying just $10 for a space.
        2) It was a Sunday, so traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as during the week
        3) We had 4 people in the car, which made the transit option 4 times as expensive as it would be for a single person making the trip.
        4) We were able to pay New Jersey prices for gas, which is much less than New York prices
        5) We were in a rental car (which we needed anyway for other trips we were making), so wear and tear on the vehicle was irrelevant.

  2. Like the recent posting on the Washington DC streetcars- by age and experience, the country that remains the bedrock of my own outlook on the world of transit and everything else. But some questions valid ever since:

    1. What is the only visible object made out of metal whose every part was not made and assembled in the United States? Hint: the one whose presence probably generated the most public objection when built.

    2. In downtown New York City fifteen years after World War II- did a hundred percent of ferry-boat passengers really look like their forebears came from northwestern Europe, except for the ones of Slavic ancestry all the way to Siberia?

    3. What would now be the condition of the country depicted had its armed forces not been committed to combat in the Viet Nam war?

    4. What is our next move toward the next fifty-five years to advance the fine things about the country of those films, and to eliminate the worst?

    Mark Dublin

  3. Meanwhile, wsdot continued to raise passenger fares. That said, imagine the fares if transit here had such a high farebox recovery.

    1. IIRC, the Staten Island Ferry is not run by the MTA, so it’s not included in those calculations.

      1. Correct. The ferry is it’s own corporation funded by the city & not tied to the MTA witch is an agency of the state of New York.

    2. Imagine the price of gas if the gas tax paid an equal percentage of the cost of the road system.

  4. Even a boxcar from the Mainstreet of the Northwest, the iconic NP, Northern Pacific Railway.

  5. I have the impression that many bus drivers seem grumpier recently. Any reason for this?

    1. Tell me which route you take and I’ll tell you if and why your drivers are grumpier.

      1. My only guess would be that perhaps the recovery times on those routes have been reduced, so the driver has less of a break at the terminals.

  6. NYC subway history has a couple of interesting examples and perspectives for us.

    In 1869, Alfred Ely Beach took 58 days to build a round 8-foot tunnel and used a giant fan to push, and then pull by reversing the fan, a subway car that looked like an 1869 cowboy movie train car the size and shape of a barrel 312 feet each way underneath New York.

    (Maybe transit would do better if we had guys with names like that, instead of ones like Elon Musk- at least ’til we know what his middle name is.)

    Project had to be completely secret, not over people with names like Casey Corr and The Seattle Times, but mostly Tammany Hall- in those days, even corruption had to sound sort of brass-plated- who’d want in on the huge projected profits, not to mention mandatory 19th Century graft.

    Traction power-wise, one DSTT engineer seriously asked some Metro personnel whether a Bellevue bus tunnel could work with a conveyor belt so diesels could shut down. Also pretty sure somebody checked out a car wash to see if chain of moving hooks would work.

    San Francisco already proved that a releasable grip on a moving cable could pull hills like an elevator- many miles longer than our Tunnel. Think of it. Single wire overhead no problem. Breda-free!

    Giant fan probably considered too. But cloud of rodents, cats, and pigeons blasted ahead of vehicles would have taken down the portal staging booths for the whole two weeks before Metro canned platoon dispatch idea for being too much work.

    Also from The Big Apple, guaranteed way to cut construction time: have so many people in Seattle that people literally can’t walk a single step above ground. Considering income bracket of our future urban mob- job will take four minutes instead of four years.

    Original name here: New York Alki- meaning day after tomorrow. You boids got a PROBLEM wit’ dat?


  7. I saw a unicorn bus yesterday: the 11:51PM route 3 trip from Madrona to downtown was being run using a 60′ coach, numbet 2695. Since i didn’t quite believe what I was seeing, I checked OneBusAway and, sure enough, the vehicle ID matched my poor eyes. Thanks to Zack Heistand, we can see that coach 2695 really is a long one.

    How does that even work? I didn’t think that a 60′ coach would make the turns in Madrona. According to the OBA data, that trip came from route 13 (which is also weird because the 13 always turns into route 2 which also has tight turns), did the “downtown to Madrona” leg and then did “Madrona to downtown.”

  8. What’s the most times you’ve been fare-inspected in a single day?

    Today I was inspected three times — in fact, I was inspected on the first three vehicles I boarded today Link headed to Columbia City, Link headed back downtown, then the D Line to Ballard. Since I walked downtown, and took the 40 back home, those were also the only trip-legs I could have been inspected on, so I basically went 3/3 with a walk.

    1. A couple weeks ago, I took the 76 to Westlake Station, then hopped on Link and, right as the doors were closing, realized that I forgot to tap. So, at the next stop, I frantically ran from the train car to the nearest Orca reader, tapped, and ran back to the train before it took off – all to avoid a ticket that shouldn’t matter anyway because my card has a pass.

      Of course, since I went through all that effort to play by the rules, I was not fare-inspected. If I decided to not bother and take the chance, I probably would have been.

  9. The Staten Island Ferry and associated bus connections provide a real-life example of the challenges in synchronizing the schedules between low-capacity yet frequent local services and high-capacity yet infrequent regional services.

    A bus service along a commercial street supports headways of 10-15 minutes or better as lengthier headways would discourage turn-up-and-go ridership. In contrast, it is acceptable for the regional service to operate with wider headways; from the business side the expense of frequency increases of high-capacity vehicles (commuter/regional rail, ferryboats, even light rail to some extent) is prohibitive, while from the customer side longer-distance journeys are more likely to be planned in advance or are routine enough where the customer incorporates the transit schedule into their routine. The above situation is what occurs on Staten island. The Staten Island Ferry operates every 30 minutes off-peak, 20 minutes shoulder-peak, and 15 minutes during peak hours. MTA Route S48 operates every 10 to 12 minutes during the mid-day, and about 9-10 vehicles per hour in the peak direction during peak hours.

    During the AM peak hours, inbound, the S48 is scheduled with vehicles roughly evenly spaced, assuming proper line management bus bunching and crowding imbalances should be minimal in theory. The con of even spacing is that vehicles may arrive right after a ferry has departed, though customers wait no more than 15 minutes in an enclosed terminal. However during the PM peak hours, outbound, the bus route drops to a 15 minute frequency, but schedules 2-4 vehicles to depart almost at the same time; the con of peaked spacing is that the customers boarding downstream may have a long wait for the next vehicle if they arrive right after the last bunch passed by.

    While it is reasonable to assume that customers arrive at the bus stops randomly inbound, when they are likely leaving their house, in the outbound direction the infrequent yet high-capacity regional service alights customers in sharply defined waves every 15 or 20 minutes. An infrequent yet high-capacity regional route requires that the frequent yet low-capacity local route either be intentionally bunched or the loading imbalances will cause the route to bunch instead.

    1. Compare this to the Vashon Island buses, whose schedules do not coordinate with the ferry at all, and often involve 20+ minute waits for the bus, after the ferry arrives. And one wonders why so few people ride these buses…

    2. There’s also 24 hour service on each end of the ferry on rail routes. Staten Island Railroad has the ferry times written right in to the timetable.
      Naturally, this being a USA transit agency, many of the ferry timings are scheduled so that they leave 3 minutes before a train gets to the terminal.

      1. That doesn’t make much sense to me at all given what I know about SIRT’s ridership, which is that the *vast* majority of it is connecting to the ferry, which is a big part of why they only charge if you’re going to/from the last two stations (pretty much the only transit in New York that charges on exit)–riders going between other stations are negligible. In fact, as it approaches the late evening, the train runs as infrequently as the ferry.

        There is however, a fair bit of layover time at the other end.

  10. How to solve San Francisco (and our) rent problem?

    Build more San Francisco(s) (Seattle(s))!

    So, how do you get existing suburbs to build their share of housing? In the Bay, at least, the Association of Bay Area Governments (there are nine counties and more than a hundred municipalities) has for years set forth a “Regional Housing Need Allocation” that suggests how much housing various counties and towns should build. They rarely cut it: Marin County, where George Lucas is building affordable housing to spite his NIMBY neighbors, didn’t clear 30 percent of its “objective” in 2014. San Mateo was at 42 percent. The region as a whole built half what had been deemed necessary.

    In 2008, with climate change in mind, Sacramento required the state’s metropolitan regions to draw up long-term plans for urban growth. Five years later, ABAG and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (a more powerful regional organization) introduced Plan Bay Area—a proposal to funnel the majority of housing and business growth into just a few key areas.

Comments are closed.