MOTBY ferry terminal to open in September

The Bayonne City Council introduced an ordinance that approved the lease

The ferry terminal slated for construction at the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY) will open in September.

The Bayonne City Council introduced an ordinance that authorizes a 10-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) for a ferry terminal along the Hudson.

President of the Bayonne City Council, Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, said that the city expects the ferry to begin service in September.

The new ferry system will provide an alternative for commuters and encourage more drivers to take public transportation. There’s been ferry service to Manhattan intermittently for decades, but it’s been about a decade since one operated in Bayonne.

Ashe-Nadrowski said that she personally understands the traffic problem in and around Bayonne because she drives on the turnpike almost daily.

“We are always looking for ways to get people to work more conveniently,” Ashe-Nadrowski said of the city’s efforts to relieve traffic in Bayonne. “Now drivers in Bayonne will have the option to get on the light rail or catch a ferry.”

Competitive fares and free parking

Passenger fares to use the ferry will be comparable to the rates in Jersey City. Ashe-Nadrowski said that the city will make the rates competitive with other Hudson River ferries in order to encourage residents to use the new service.

For the first year of operation, the ferry terminal will offer free parking.

The new ferry service lease will reportedly cost the city of Bayonne approximately $220,000 each year. In the agreement with PANYNJ, Bayonne will pay the lease of the ferry terminal until the service breaks even. After that, the city will split the profits with the ferry service.

Ashe-Nadrowski estimates that the service will break even once it reaches an average of 350 passengers per day. It is expected to take around a year for the ferry service to reach that daily passenger load.

Bayonne committed a federal grant of $650,000 toward the project’s construction. A number of developers have also contributed to the ferry terminal’s funding.

Ashe-Nadrowski confirmed that the nearby developers have agreed to pay toward the build-out of the ferry terminal. It’s estimated that the terminal’s total construction cost will be around $1.6 million.

Former Military Ocean Terminal Base where a ferry terminal is planned. Photo by Rory Pasquariello.

The ferry terminal will be on the south side of MOTBY. According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the land sits near Costco, about a mile past the shopping center.

The ferry terminal is in a prime location with a number of developments nearby. Ashe-Nadrowski said the goal is to attract potential residents to the numerous new apartments in the city.

SeaStreak tapped as operator

According to Ashe-Nadrowski, SeaStreak, LLC will operate the ferry service. However the deal has yet to be signed.

In 2019, the city council adopted an agreement with a ferry service from Bayonne to Manhattan. The city authorized a lease and license agreement with SeaStreak, which will oversee and operate the future ferry service.

While committing a lease and license agreement to one ferry service provider is a major milestone, negotiations between SeaStreak and the city still need to be worked out.

SeaStreak is a private company that currently provides ferry transportation from points in New York City; New Jersey including Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, and Sandy Hook Beach; and a number of locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

According to SeaStreak’s original bid, the company proposed 13 round trips at intervals of about 30 to 40 minutes on weekdays between Bayonne and downtown Manhattan. In the original proposal, the price of a one-way ticket would be $13. A round-trip ticket would cost $25. A monthly package of 40 trips would cost $415.50.

The size of the vessels would depend on customer demand once the service is operating.

The ferry service drop-off location will be somewhere in lower Manhattan. Ashe-Nadrowski said the drop-off site hasn’t been finalized but speculated it could be Pier 17 or a location on the East River.

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