Hudson County Division on Planning discusses possibility of Bayonne ferry locations

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The Hudson County Division of Planning held their latest in a series of virtual forums about potential ferry service, this time discussing the possibilities in Bayonne.

Photo via hudcoferrystudy.com.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Project manager Kevin Force led the forum and noted that the City of Bayonne had initiated an earlier study of a possible ferry departing from the Military Ocean Terminal.

“They were a real inspiration for us. It made us want to explore different transportation options for Hudson County and the surrounding region,” Force said.

Force explained they are looking at Bayonne as one of the possible locations for a new ferry stop, especially on the city’s west side.

The dense population of Hudson County and the great waterfront access as a peninsula make a ferry a viable option.

“We wanted to look at the potential for service on the west bayside of Bayonne,” Force explained.

He also said they have identified a few sites including Bergen Point Redevelopment Area which is the old Texaco Site, at West 5th St which is the Bayonne Luxury Redevelopment Area, the Bayview old A &P Redevelopment Area, and City Park on West 16th Street.

The main public transportation options in the Peninsula City are NJ Transit Bus Routes 10 and 119, which run on John F. Kennedy Boulevard and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stop on 8th Street, which come close to the sites but would still require walking.

He noted the ferries would have to navigate the heavily trafficked Newark Bay which while difficult is possible.

Traver Roper said the area around the 16th Street Park “is one of the most largely underserved areas by public transportation. Personally, I commute to the Upper West Side in Manhattan for work. It requires I get to the light rail and transfer three times.”

“It’s quite extensive. I live in the vicinity of the 16th Street park just a few blocks away. So for me having a ferry in walking distance that made my route more direct would be extremely beneficial, to somewhere like one of the Midtown ferry ports in Manhattan,” Roper continued.

Force was also open to exploring different destinations such as the newly redeveloped Kearny Point in Kearny and the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth.

Ehab Gamal thought there should be two ferry stops instead of one in Bayonne.

He noted that if there will be such great redevelopment near the old A&P then it makes sense since some of that development will be residential. Specifically, he was interested in stops at the 16th Street Park or 33rd St Park at Bergen Point to create more customers.

Gary DeBode, of Gallium Real Estate, explained they are developing the former A&P site now zoned for residential and retail buildings. He argued in favor of a ferry stop at the site.

“There’s an old set of bulkheads that go into Bay that were then when the New Jersey Central Railroad used to go the bay. So there’s a potential to build out in the bay,” De Bode said.

“The location in general … is good from a multi-modal standpoint,” he added, noting there are nearby light rail and bus route stops. De Bode said it’s also near Bergen Point.

De Bode noted that a potential movie studio is also under construction in the area which would create a lot of jobs and subsequently demand for a ferry stop from workers commuting from elsewhere.

“We are happy to work with the county if they’re interested in that … “We’re going to look at the different levels of ridership coming from different fare levels,” he added.

Force said regarding existing fare structures in Hudson County is one of the more expensive travel modes. Force noted since it is operated by private companies with no subsidies. In contrast to the NYC ferry far of $2.75 which is heavily subsidized by the MTA.

Shavonn Mainor, a Bayonne resident, spoke in favor of increasing the ferry service.

“I prefer the ferry to the PATH train. My daily commute involves taking the light rail to Essex and then transferring at Paulus Hook to get over to the city,” she explained.

“Anything that could shorten that would be welcomed … Miss one train you miss two boats. Then you’re late for your 9 a.m.”

Mainor noted this would involve quite a bit of coordination, as well as that a bus shuttle would be good to connect people to the ferry.

Furthermore, Mike Rusicgno of the Bayonne Nature Club, said the old ferry from Bayonne to Sandy Hook in Monmouth County, was a great destination during vacation season and could be revived.

“Going to Manhattan in the non-commute hours, the ferry can take a lot of people over there,” he added.

This is a conceptual study with no funding for implementation yet attached.

The study began last July, with collecting data and doing public outreach. Hudson County is in the process of analyzing data and determining public interest, expected to release a report should be completed by June.