Bayonne ferry terminal construction could resume soon

COVID-19 delayed the project

SeaStreak will be the operator of the Bayonne ferry.
×
SeaStreak will be the operator of the Bayonne ferry.

Construction of the ferry terminal at the former Marine Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY), which has been delayed due to COVID-19, may begin soon, according to the city’s Public Information Officer Joe Ryan.

Ryan said the city was waiting for approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The NJDEP was delayed in the approval process due to the shutdown.

As the NJDEP copes with the backlog, Ryan said the city expects it to sign off on the ferry project sometime in October.

Once that happens, any construction relating to the ferry terminal can get underway.

Pre-pandemic plans

The Bayonne City Council voted to adopt an ordinance at its Jan. 15 meeting that authorized a ten-year lease with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) for a ferry terminal along the Hudson.

The city will operate and maintain the landing.

In January, Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski said that the city expected the ferry to begin service in September. Now it’s not clear when construction will end and service can begin.

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 the city will make the rates competitive with other Hudson River ferries to encourage residents to use the new service.

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

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

Breaking even

The new ferry service lease will 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.

In January, Ashe-Nadrowski estimated that the service will break even once it reaches an average of 350 passengers per day. It’s expected to take around a year to reach that daily passenger load.

In 2019, the city authorized a lease and license agreement with SeaStreak, which will oversee and operate the future ferry service.

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

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

The 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.

It’s 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.

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