Hoboken’s Mayor has temporarily rescinded his threat of using eminent domain to take over NY Waterway’s recently purchased Union Dry Dock (UDD) land and on April 4th the City Council approved a first reading of an ordinance to repeal the ordinance authorizing this use of eminent domain because otherwise NJ Transit would have stepped in to purchase the land and lease it back to NY Waterway to ensure that the ferries continue to run and serve its 30,000 commuters. Hoboken cannot legally eminent domain property owned by a state agency such as NJ Transit.
The Mayor and Council do not want NY Waterway to come to Hoboken to use the UDD property they bought last November 3, 2017 for their ferry maintenance and refueling; they want UDD to be used as a public waterfront park. But NY Waterway bought the site because there are no other docks to use. The closest dry dock is Bayonne’s former Military Ocean Terminal (MOT), which has dry docks for large military ships. The Bayonne MOT is 8 miles away from NY Waterway’s commuter hubs. NY Waterway’s ferries would have to travel 16 miles just to get back to the Hoboken/Weehawken area to maintain their commuter schedules. NY Waterway has no intention of moving their operations to Bayonne because they will not be able to function or survive. It is illogical. That would be an incredible waste of fuel, time, and money and anyone who cares about the environment should not want a ferry to expend fuel in such a wasteful way.
Mayor Bhalla wants NY Waterway to go to Bayonne, but they cannot move there without investigating its feasibility for the necessary ferry operations, which NJ Transit claims it is doing and which takes time. In the meantime, NY Waterway is proceeding to move in to the UDD property and begin to operate there before June 1. The reality is that the future of 30,000 commuters and over 400 employees of NY Waterway is at stake.
Currently Bayonne is investigating the possibility of ferry service from a proposed future ferry terminal at the MOT site in to Manhattan. Bayonne wants to lease land from the Port Authority to do so. In the Jersey Journal article of April 4, it was stated: “Per statistics from the Census Transportation Planning Products, the study found there are 1,161 people daily coming from Bayonne to Manhattan. The study also estimated that a ferry service would take roughly 20 minutes and would cost approximately $13 for a one-way fare.” Transportation to and from the Bayonne shoreline to access a ferry would have to be established because it is a long walk from route 440 to the MOT site. This indicates just how far Bayonne is from everything since it takes NY Waterway 10 minutes to cross the Hudson from Hoboken to Manhattan.
Bayonne is not an answer. It is best that everyone looks at the future of coexisting with NY Waterway in Hoboken.