If you've ever commuted via the Staten Island Ferry during rush hour, you know that it can be a pretty hellish experience. Both of the ferry's terminals can get packed during rush hour—so crowded that Staten Island borough president James Oddo compared the experience to an episode of Walking Dead on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a simple solution to reduce crowding on both ends of the ferry: expanded, lower-level boarding. Boarding was permitted on the lower levels of both the Whitehall and St. George terminals until 2002 when the Maritime Transportation Security Act was passed in the aftermath of 9/11. The ferry serves roughly 70,000 daily passengers, all of whom are forced to bottleneck into the upper levels of each terminal in order to board during busy times of the day.
In a statement, de Blasio noted that ridership on the ferry is expected to grow in the coming years with the construction of a massive marketplace and the world's largest ferris wheel on Staten Island.
The expanded boarding will begin this September. Passengers hopping on the ferry at Whitehall will have access to day-long lower-level boarding, and those getting on at St. George will be permitted to board via the lower-level platform during morning rush from 7am to 9am.
“Each morning and evening, Staten Islanders face huge crowds pushing their way onto the ferry," de Blasio said in a statement. “They spoke up, and we listened. With ridership breaking records, we’re taking steps to reducing crowding while keeping passengers safe. Lower-level boarding means more ways onto the boat, which means a more pleasant ride and fewer delays in the terminal.”
The announcement comes during a week in which de Blasio spent extensive time on the island attending town hall meetings and engaging with residents across the borough. The tour of the borough has widely been seen as an attempt by the mayor to curry favor among a group of voters who widely rejected his 2013 candidacy and voted heavily in favor of President Trump during the 2016 presidential election.