Staten Island ferries to use clean fuel
BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Monday, February 18th 2008, 4:00 AM
Even the orange boats of the Staten Island ferry are going "green."
And just to make sure they do, the City Council has passed a bill mandating that the city-run ferries - which make some 33,000 trips yearly between Staten Island and Manhattan - switch to less-polluting, ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel by July 1.
The bill, which is expected to be signed into law soon by Mayor Bloomberg, also requires the Staten Island ferry to make other environmentally friendly upgrades in coming years.
Total costs of the required improvements have been estimated at $15.4 million, of which $3.8million would come out of the city treasury. The rest is to be funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as part of its obligation to do environmental mitigation work.
Also, because ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel is more costly than regular marine diesel, officials estimate the cleaner fuel will add $249,400 more a year to the ferries' fuel costs.
The greening of the Staten Island ferry is long overdue, according to Councilman Alan Gerson, a Democrat whose lower Manhattan district includes the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, where the ferries dock before their 5.2-mile trip to the St. George Terminal on Staten Island.
"The Staten Island ferry has been one of our city's worst polluters," Gerson said Wednesday before the Council voted 50-0 for the bill.
"With this bill, gone will be the odors, and more importantly gone will be the poisons which got into our lungs, both while we're on the ferry and when we're on land," Gerson added.
The bill, which does not apply to private ferry services, also requires the Staten Island ferry to meet other current and future federal anti-pollution standards for marine vessels - either by installing diesel oxidation catalysts on ferry exhausts, making engine upgrades or buying new boats - which can cost upward of $40 million each. A deadline schedule is in the bill.
Staten Island ferry officials said they were already well underway in making such upgrades. They said none of their current eight boats are in immediate danger of having to be mothballed because of the mandates.
That includes the John F. Kennedy, the granddaddy of the Staten Island ferry fleet, which went into service in 1965. But any ferry older than 30 years will have to be scrapped if it doesn't meet tougher federal standards by 2011.
The Kennedy began using ultralow-sulfur diesel in mid-2007, and the remaining boats are expected to be in compliance by the July 1 deadline.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I'm really happy to hear of this news (see The Daily News article below). I like to sit at the back of the ferry and the diesel occasionally bothers me. I have also been informed that the Staten island ferry terminal fish tanks are now up and running. I'll try to get a photograph for Prodigal Borough soon. --CvB