Council Questions DOT Over Condition Of Ferry Boats
City Council members took the Department of Transportation to task Thursday over the condition of some of the Staten Island ferry boats. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.
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Some City Council members are not pleased with the service record of the Molinari class of Staten Island ferries.
"We want to know if the city was sold a lemon and what if anything we can do about it," said Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
Ignizio charges that the three boats have been plagued with mechanical issues and are often out of service.
Thursday, Ignizio and other council members got to ask their questions to chief operating officer of the Staten Island Ferry Division of the DOT, Captain James De Simone, as part of a hearing at City Hall.
The hearing was scheduled after the John J Marchi ferry lost power on July 1st and slammed into a pier at the St. George Ferry Terminal, injuring 15 people.
Council members say the incident was unacceptable.
"The brakes failed. That is why 15 people were hurt. That is why damage was done to the pier. That is what caused the accident," said Councilman John Liu, chair of the council's Committee on Transportation. "The brakes failed."
Captain De Simone says power failures and other problems are all part of the breaking-in process of the ferries. The Molinari class began service in 2005.
"The fact of the matter is new ships are subject to these types of problem," De Simone said. "It is a fact of life and I wish I could change it."
He says the July 1st crash was caused by a failed transformer and subsequent drop in power to the ferry. He says software modifications have been made to compensate for this and he and his team are dedicated to keeping passengers safe.
"You have my word that we are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that these vessels get to the point where they are suppose to be and operate in a manor in which the city of New York can be happy with," said De Simone. "And you certainly have my word and we don't take any of this lightly."
Commuters at the St. George Terminal say they are glad the issue is being looked into, but for the most part they feel safe.
"I have never had a problem with the ferry," said a passenger. "I think it is pretty safe. I know that they have had their mishaps, but hey, it is safer than flying."
"I always felt quite safe on the ferries," said another. "I still do."