Hundreds of ferries operated on New York’s rivers in the late 1800s. Most of these disappeared after the opening of several East Side bridges. Now, ferries have become popular once again. After the attack on the World Trade Center, when there were some temporary problems with subways and commuter rail trains, many New Yorkers turned to the ferries as a reliable means of transportation. The rail problems have since been fixed; still many New York commuters enjoy spending their rush hours on deck in the fresh air.
The Staten Island Ferry, which takes commuters from Staten Island to Manhattan and back, is the only method of public transportation between Staten Island and the other boroughs. The Staten Island Ferry and the Verrazano Bridge, which links Staten Island and Brooklyn, are the only direct connections between Staten Island and the rest of the city.
Staten Island joined New York City in 1898. In 1905, Ferry Service was transferred to the city Department of Docks and Ferries. The Staten Island Ferry is now operated by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT). NYC DOT maintains a fleet of eight vessels as well as the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, the City Island and Hart Island Facilities, the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and all floating dock building equipment.
The Staten Island Ferry makes over 33,000 trips each year. On weekdays, five boats are used to transfer about 70,000 passengers daily during 104 daily trips. On weekends, three boats are used, with 64 trips made each weekend day.
While most of the people who use the Staten Island Ferry are commuters traveling to and from jobs in Manhattan, a Staten Island Ferry ride is a great experience for tourists as well. From the ferry, one can see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, as well as the Lower Manhattan skyline.
New York Waterways offers ferry service for commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey, with ports in various parts of lower and midtown Manhattan, and in a number of New Jersey cities and towns. It also operates sightseeing cruises around New York Harbor, as well as cruises up the Hudson River from New York City to upstate New York.
New York Water Taxi takes commuters from Hunters Point, Queens, Red Hook, Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Jersey City, New Jersey to Manhattan. Manhattan stops include the Fulton Ferry landing, Battery Park, the South Street Seaport, the World Financial Center, Wall Street, Greenwich Village, Chelsea Piers, and West 44th Street in Midtown. New York Water Taxi also offers sightseeing tours of New York Harbor.
The Circle Line ferry company conducts a number of sightseeing cruises around the city. It also maintains a ferry that takes visitors from Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island. These attractions are only accessible by ferry.