Billybey replacing noisy ferries with quieter models


Quieter ferries are coming to Battery Park City, after Gateway Plaza residents complained about the noise.

The residents said the vibration from the ferries pulling into the World Financial Center terminal rattled their apartments and prevented them from sleeping. They first noticed a problem at the beginning of November, when Billybey Ferry Company doubled its service between the W.F.C. and Jersey City in anticipation of the new Goldman Sachs headquarters opening.

At the same time, Billybey started using a different type of boat on that route: a series of catamarans acquired in 1998. The reason the catamarans are so noisy is that the exhaust is expelled into the empty space between the boats’ two hulls, which creates the rumbling noise residents heard, said Pat Smith, Billybey spokesperson.

By the end of this week, Billybey will swap the 1998 catamarans for a newer set acquired in 2002 and 2003, which have a different exhaust system, Smith said. The change should reduce the amount of low-frequency noise by 50 percent, based on Billybey’s acoustical consultant’s estimates, Smith said.

“Billybey wants to be a good neighbor,” Billybey President Paul Goodman said in a statement. “Billybey wants to be responsive to community issues.”

Beth Dornhofer, a Gateway resident for 26 years who has been upset about the noise, said she would not be happy until she heard the difference.

“We’ll have to see if this change is livable,” she said. “We shouldn’t be able to hear [the ferries], period.”

— Julie Shapiro