The new, eight-week ferry service from the South Shore of Staten Island to Lower Manhattan started running Monday morning, filling a transit need that stemmed from Hurricane Sandy's damage to the Staten Island Railway.
The ferry boats, operated by New York Water Taxi, are making trips in each direction six times daily, leaving Great Kills between 6:30 and 9 a.m. for Pier 11 at Wall Street and East 35th Street and heading back for Staten Island between 5:40 and 8:10 p.m.
The one-way fare is $2, and it takes about 45 minutes to reach Pier 11 and 55 minutes to reach East 35th Street.
"Sandy threw everything at us, and it's been terrific to see everyone coming together to work to improve the lives of Staten Islanders and in particular making it a little easier to get into and around town," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
"The word has got to get out. There's a lot of people that don't know it existed," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. "The people that went out this morning, if they talk to their friends and tell them how convenient it was, and so forth and so on, I think it'll make a big difference."
Linda Spurrell of Tottenville arrived extra early to ride the first boat from Great Kills. She usually rides the Staten Island Railway to St. George to catch the Staten Island Ferry and then takes to the subway to Midtown.
"Since the storm, the Staten Island train has been running pretty slow and it's not always meeting the boat. So it's been taking two to two-and-a-half hours sometimes. So I figured, let me try this," she said.
"It's another alternative. It's been tough getting into work since the storm," said another passenger. "So we're willing to give it a try."
"I'm really hoping that this makes a difference," said a third passenger.
Some elected officials and residents have called for ferry service to the South Shore for years, and they hoped this temporary ferry will be successful and possibly be made permanent in the future.
"The thing about this, compared to other ways of getting there, is you don't have traffic usually in the water as you do with buses. So this has a lot of opportunity to be a more reliable form of transportation," said a local.
"We would love to see this permanently. If it's quick, why not?" another local said.
A shuttle bus will link the ferry landing at Great Kills with the S78 and SBS S79 bus stop at Buffalo Street and Hylan Boulevard.