Now, the borough of Carteret, NJ, a town of 22,000 across the water from Staten Island, is hoping that soon, it too will have a ferry to New York. New York Waterway, the operator of several Hudson River ferries, ran a test boat between Carteret’s municipal dock at Waterfront Park and Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street.
“The purpose of the test runs is to gather information on the water route and to determine commuter travel times to and from Manhattan for the future Borough ferry service,” the officials said in the statement.
“While a full-service commuter ferry is still some years away from being completely operational, Wednesday’s tests are an important step towards that goal,” the statement said.
Ferries are a popular concept for politicians. They don’t cause extra traffic, they don’t run close to anyone’s home, and the up-front infrastructure costs for a ferry pier are much lower than say, a light rail line. There’s also a certain glamor to boat travel.
A potential Carteret ferry would not serve a large market. Carteret is already served commuter trains from nearby Woodbridge and by NJ Transit’s 116 bus, which runs express to the Port Authority in 30-40 minutes. The ferry would only be an attractive option for commuters going downtown.
The route would probably require public subsidy. Similar express ferries to Belford and Highlands in Monmouth County, NJ are run by private companies, but their terminals have large park-and-ride facilities and they serve a much wider territory than just one town.
Ferry service from this part of New Jersey to New York is not a new idea. An express ferry from Elizabeth to New York has been proposed many times, but is still a non-starter. The project even received a $10 million dollar grant, which dried up without ever being used.
It’s always a exciting when a new ferry service is proposed. The hard part comes after that.