Emerging From Pandemic-Driven Schedule Cuts, Staten Island Ferry Returns To Full Service

The Staten Island Ferry is returning to full service Sunday, nearly a year and a half after the pandemic curtailed its round-the-clock sailings.

The signature orange ferry boats will return to their 24/7 departure schedule leaving every half hour, starting 11:30 p.m. August 15th.

About 70,000 passengers took the ferry every weekday in 2019, with 22 million passengers each year.

“The Staten Island Ferry knits this city together, and the return of 24/7 half-hour service is a sure sign that a recovery for all of us is underway,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a statement. “No matter when you go to work, visit family and friends, or enjoy a night out in the greatest city in the world, you deserve fast, frequent, and reliable ferry service. That’s what we’re proud to deliver today.”

Ferry service was reduced after ridership plummeted during the early days of the pandemic and crews were short-staffed. De Blasio announced the ferry would run only every hour, which worried Staten Island officials who feared the schedule changes would be made permanent.

“Ferry reductions are tied to massive ridership drops and the [city Department of Transportation’s] ability to staff. Understandable. But the moment ‘Stay Home’ is lifted and ridership increases is the time Ferry service reductions must be rescinded,” Borough President James Oddo told the Staten Island Advance in April 2020. Regular daytime service was restored earlier this year.

On Friday, Oddo cheered the restoration of service and credited legislation he passed while a Council Member in 2013 that mandated 24/7, half-hour ferry service.

“Staten Island lived up to its responsibility during the economic difficulties brought upon by Covid and we accepted the reduction in service,” Oddo said in a statement. “But as the Mayor has made clear, we are in a ‘Recovery for all’ and that means helping all those essential workers and Staten Islanders who work outside of the typical 9-5 schedule.”

The city is also adding three new ferry boats to the fleet, including the SSG Michael H. Ollis, which shipped up from Florida Saturday.

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