In the midst of an ongoing, bitter feud with New York Waterway, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is alluding the possibility of the city putting ferry service out to bid.
“This afternoon, I had a very productive conversation with the leadership of one of the region’s leading ferry operators,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“They assured me that if New York Waterway chose to no longer operate in Hoboken as they have threatened to do on numerous occasions, this ferry company would be willing to go through the process of becoming Hoboken’s ferry operator. This conversation is the latest proof that a ‘transportation crisis,’ as manufactured by New York Waterway, is nothing more than a blatant lie and intimidation tactic.”
The mayor continued that he is still committed to providing safe, reliable ferry service while still advocating to preserve Union Dry Dock for a waterfront park.
In his own statement, NY Waterway President and Founder Arthur E. Imperatore said that his company never threatened to halt service.
“We never threatened and never intended to withdraw from Hoboken, where we have the highest regard for our passengers. We intend to be in Hoboken serving the public for many years, long after Mayor Bhalla will have left office,” he said.
“This is just the latest example of Mayor Bhalla’s total disregard for the truth.”
In response, city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri said that it was Imperatore who was lying, since he had previously stated multiple times that NY Waterway cannot operate without Union Dry Dock.
While Bhalla declined to mention which ferry operator he met with, his announcement comes six days after the Bayonne City Council approved a 10-year, $250,000 lease with the Port Authority to move their ferry service project with SeaStreak forward.
Earlier this month, NJ Transit released two studies that indicated that Union Dry Dock was the optimal location for a ferry maintenance and refueling station, writing off the Hoboken Terminal as a homeland security risk and the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne as too expensive.
Then last week, the Boswell Engineering released a study of their own that insisted that Union Dry Dock was not a viable option for NY Waterway, claiming that NJ Transit did not provide enough evidence to support their conclusions and that few facts had changed since the agency’s 2009 study.
The engineering firm had released a report last year that said that Hoboken Terminal was the optimal location for NY Waterway, position that Bhalla and many other city officials supported.
The Hoboken City Council is currently slated to vote on the second reading of executing eminent domain on Union Dry Dock at their September 4th meeting.