The city cut Staten Island Ferry service to just once an hour through at least Thursday morning amid a mass worker no-show Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams said.
“A significant share of our Staten Island Ferry workforce did not report to work today. As a result, Staten Island Ferry service will run hourly from 3 p.m. today until at least 5 a.m. tomorrow.” Mayor Adams said in a statement. “We hope Staten Island Ferry service will return to regular operations with 15-minute service beginning at 5:00 AM tomorrow.”
The big orange boats will leave St. George Terminal on Staten island on the hour and Whitehall in Lower Manhattan on the half hour, according to City Hall.
Hizzoner strongly encouraged New Yorkers and visitors to use other modes of transportation, especially if they are making non-essential trips.
The city waved fares on its NYC Ferry system for trips to and from the borough, running roughly every 15 minutes between Battery Park City and St. George starting at 3:30 p.m. through the end of its schedule at 10 p.m., and resuming again at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
MTA’s New York City Transit upped express bus service to Staten Island on the SIM1/SIM1C, the SIM3/SIM3C, and the SIM4/SIM4C, and added staff to direct riders to alternative routes.
Transit officials also recommended commuters take the R train to 86th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and catch a connecting bus to Staten Island, such as the S79 SBS, S53 or S93.
The agency suspended limited service on all its Staten Island local bus routes except for the S93 and S89.
“We recognize the fluid nature of the situation and the MTA is doing what it can to assist commuters who might otherwise become stranded due to reduced ferry options,” said NYCT Chief Operating Officer Craig Cipriano.
Mayor Adams appeared to cast blame for the disruptive “event” on a dispute with the union representing ferry workers and a larger shortage of nautical staff across the country.
“Amidst a national marine workers shortage and ongoing labor challenges, we have already been making regular adjustments to Staten Island Ferry service. Now with this event, we are saying to the workers who did not come in today: If you are not sick, New Yorkers need you to come to work,” Adams said.
“We will continue to engage with these ferry workers’ union to reach a voluntary, pattern-conforming agreement in the same way that we have done with virtually all other city unions for these rounds of bargaining,” the mayor added.
There have been ongoing service reductions of the iconic ferry’s schedule in recent weeks, which the Department of Transportation initially chalked up to on a rise in COVID-19 infections among workers.
But labor leaders with the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the union representing the ferry’s workers, disputed those claims, saying the outages were due to the boats being chronically shorthanded because the city has not raised members’ wages since the Mayor Bloomberg administration 2010 amid choppy contract negotiations — making it harder to attract new employees.
“Today’s work shortage on the Staten Island ferry is completely due to severely overworked and understaffed crews,” said MEBA’s Secretary and Treasurer Roland Rexha in a statement Wednesday evening.
The labor leader added that MEBA officials were not aware of, and would not endorse, deliberate disruptions by its members, but he called on the mayor to offer a fair contract.
“The union has no knowledge of any deliberate disruptions of service nor would we endorse any action to slow down this essential service for our beloved Staten Islanders,” Rexha said. “The only thing ‘sick’ is OLR’s [Office of Labor Relations] refusal to offer a contract that reflects the highly-skilled and essential work of the ferry officers and mariners.”