NY Waterway and NJ TRANSIT retrofit ferry to cut fuel use and emissions

Five more ferries are in the process of being retrofitted

NY Waterway and NJ TRANSIT have completed a ferry retrofit that cuts its emissions, with five more ferries to be upgraded in the future.

The fully refitted “Hoboken” has brand new engines, new propulsion systems, and greater passenger capacity, while using less fuel and emitting less engine exhaust, according to NY Waterway.

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After the retrofit, the ferry’s four 600-horsepower EPA Tier 1 engines were replaced by two 900-horsepower EPT Tier 3 engines. Capacity also increased from 149 to 247 passengers, a 60 percent margin.

The retrofit resulted in a fuel use reduction by 25 percent, according to NY Waterway. The ferry operator also touted that NOx emissions were reduced by 80 percent. That totals out to a “70 percent passenger emissions reduction,” while maintaining the same speed, according to Armand Pohan, President, CEO and Chairman of NY Waterway.

Pohan said the retrofit was possible on account of a very large grant that was secured by NY Waterway, NJ TRANSIT, Rep. Albio Sires of the 8th Congressional District, and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, from the Federal Transit Administration.

More en route

Five more NY Waterway ferries will be retrofitted under the program, made possible by NJ TRANSIT through a $12-million grant from the Federal Transportation Administration. This will occur over the next two years, eventually bringing the total number of retrofitted ferries to six.

At an event at Port Imperial in Weehawken on July 26, NY Waterway and NJ TRANSIT unveiled the first refitted ferry with Mayor Richard Turner and took media and guests on a ride across the Hudson River.

The retrofitted ferry known as the “Hoboken.”

“Every ferry takes dozens, sometimes hundreds, of cars off the region’s roadways,” said Pohan. The ferry operator saw over 18,000 passengers just last week, he said and called its services a “green, sustainable way of transporting people in the region.”

“They’re already a clean and sustainable way to commute, and now they’ll be even greener,” Pohan said. “It’s our mission to be a good steward of the harbor, and we’re so thrilled to see the Hoboken reenter service with cleaner engines, room for more passengers and lower fuel use on every trip. We are so grateful to our partners at NJ TRANSIT, the FTA as well as Senator Bob Menendez for this program.”

“NJ TRANSIT is proud to have helped facilitate the funding for NY Waterway’s upgrade to its ferries, which will substantially lower carbon emissions and improve our environment,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “We look forward to continuing to work with environmental advocates, elected officials, and other stakeholders to promote a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly New Jersey.”

Making ferry travel greener

Pohan touted the partnership between NJ TRANSIT and NY Waterway, which both aim to “take cars off the road” and provide “safe, convenient, low emissions mass transit.” He hopes to continue making ferry travel greener, he said.

“We hope to keep on continuing to move in that direction,” Pohan said. “We know in the future, we’re going to have to be cleaner than we are today, as we move down the road to hybrid boats, maybe fully electric boats.”

Pohan noted that if efforts were to continue, more federal funding would be needed to support the project, as had been the case for this project.

The ferry captain steers the boat on its inaugural voyage after being retrofitted.

“This is all going to come at a large cost and is going to need support of the government, just as these boats wouldn’t have happened without the support of the government,” Pohan said. “I’m grateful for that support, and grateful for our connection with NJ TRANSIT.”

Earlier in the year, the Weehawken Township Council voted to approve a resolution opposing the planned expansion of the current New York Waterway ferry refueling and maintenance facility in the township. The move followed residents and a local group entitled “Weehawken Residents Against Ferry Pollution” opposing the expansion in part due to noise and air pollution among other complaints. It seems residents may have some reprieve as the company works to reduce fuel use and emissions.

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.

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