Bayonne ferry terminal lease approved

The city council and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted to approve the lease

SeaStreak was chosen to operate the ferry service in Bayonne.
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SeaStreak was chosen to operate the ferry service in Bayonne.

The ferry terminal slated for construction at the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY) is moving closer to fruition.

The Bayonne City Council voted to adopt an ordinance that authorizes a ten-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 city council introduced the ordinance at its Jan. 15 meeting.

The PANYNJ Board of Commissioners approved the lease with the City of Bayonne on Feb. 13 for the parcel of property at the Port Jersey–Port Authority Marine Terminal.

“Expanding options for the growing population of commuters along the Hudson River waterfront is a critical part of this agency’s commitment to keep the region moving,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “Today’s action will allow us to take an underutilized piece of port property and partner with the City of Bayonne to support much needed trans-Hudson service connecting people to their jobs, families and homes.”

At its monthly meeting, the PANYNJ Board approved a ten-year, $2.6 million lease with the city. The board also approved a ten-year extension option for the property, subject to the PANYNJ’s  consent.

“This lease is in line with our recently completed Port Master Plan, which looks to maximize existing port property to allow for the efficient movement of people and goods over the next 30 years,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey H. Lynford. “This lease will not impact existing or future seaport operations but will allow us to work hand-in-hand with an important host community to improve transportation options for its residents.”

The lease will allow the City of Bayonne to enter into an operating agreement with a passenger ferry operator in support of ferry service between Bayonne and New York City.

The city will operate and maintain the ferry landing.

“We are very excited about the return of ferry service to Bayonne,” said Mayor James Davis. “The ferry will provide a convenient commute between Bayonne and New York City, and will make Bayonne a more attractive location for commuters. The return of ferry service is yet another sign that Bayonne is making great progress.”

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

Ferry fares 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 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’s expected to take around a year for the 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 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.

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.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.