STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (WABC) — The Staten Island Ferry is undergoing “significant changes” after officials say a flurry of workers are calling in sick, and they are now advising the public to avoid non-essential ferry trips.
The New York Department of Transportation said Thursday morning that “the vast majority of the captains, mates and mates scheduled to operate the Staten Island Ferry vessels that day have called in sick.”
That, combined with the nation’s shortage of maritime workers, has led to “significant changes” to Staten Island Ferry service, they said, and the same is expected to happen Friday.
“These changes are extremely disruptive to the tens of thousands of people who ride the ferry every day, Staten Islanders who commute to work or home to their families, and U.S. military personnel who attend Fleet Week,” the DOT said in a statement.
Officials say the captains and both assistant captains called the midnight runs on Wednesday night, and another standby captain also called on Thursday morning. They say all non-duty-eligible personnel were called in to work overtime, but did not pick up the phones or return calls.
According to the NYC DOT, the full crew required to operate a boat includes one captain, one assistant captain and three assistants.
NYC DOT says it had enough staff to operate hourly service Thursday afternoon and evening.
They are urging the public to “avoid non-essential ferry journeys and use alternative modes of transport where possible”.
“The City is focused on ensuring that ferry passengers can get to their destinations safely, and we will continue to keep New Yorkers informed,” the NYC DOT said.
It’s unclear if this is a coordinated job action, but the DOT is now trying to fill in the changes.
A similar personnel problem played out in August 2022.
In response, NYC Ferry offers a free overnight ferry service until 6:15 a.m. on Fridays, but these are much smaller boats.
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