ST. GEORGE — Staten Island Ferry riders who take the boat at night often find themselves stuck waiting an hour for the next one to depart, but a new City Council bill is seeking to shorten the wait.
Council members James Oddo, Vincent Ignizio and Debi Rose announced in front of Borough Hall their plan to introduce a bill into the City Council next week to make the ferry run every half-hour at all times to ease the wait of some night time commuters.
“We talk about this city as being the city that doesn’t sleep,” Ignizio said. “The problem here is you got plenty of time to take a nap between the hour that you have for the ferry terminal waiting over there.”
Currently, Staten Island-bound ferries switch from every half hour to every hour after 2 a.m. during the week and after 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Manhattan-bound ferries end at 1 a.m. weekdays and 7 p.m. weekends.
The long delay between boats can make for a hellish commute for people who work night shifts, Rose said.
“They act as if everyone works 9 to 5,” Rose said. “Well I have family members who work the night shift on Wards Island, and at night they have to leave 2 hours early just to get to work on a Monday through Friday.”
Under the new bill, the ferry service would keep the ferries running every half-hour 24/7. They did not say how much the additional service would cost or where the funding would come from. A spokesman for the Department of Transportation, which runs the Staten Island Ferry, said he could not comment on pending legislation, and could not give an estimate of costs.
Members of the St. George Civic Association's Ferry Riders committee said that the number one complaint people lodge to them is the long wait for night-time boats.
Nicholas Zvegintzov, chair of the Ferry Riders committee, said there are 1,600,000 trips a year after the ferry service reduces to every hour, which he estimated adds up to 800,000 hours of people waiting during those times.
The bill will be introduced during the council’s next meeting on Wednesday. A prior attempt to boost ferry service in 2005 was unsuccessful, but Oddo said they’re trying again this year to appeal to the mayoral candidates vying for office.
Also, with the votes from the next council speaker on the line, Oddo said Ignizio and Rose are leaning on candidates who want Staten Island votes to commit to boosting ferry service.
“They are going to be hot commodities in the next speakers race,” Oddo said.
And while many tourist ride the ferry every day, Oddo said that the boat is the borough’s most vital transportation method for residents and the increased service should be in place.
“It’s not the love boat,” Oddo said. “It’s a vital transportation link.”