New York fast ferry will begin weekend service tomorrow
Building on the success of a trial run over the July fourth holiday weekend, SeaStreak fast ferry company will begin providing round-trip service Friday between New York City and Martha's Vineyard.
The fast passenger ferry service offers high-speed catamaran services to points in Manhattan from Highlands, N.J., with a fleet of four vessels. One year ago the New England Fast Ferry (NEFF), which now operates between New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard under a license issued by the Steamship Authority (SSA), acquired SeaStreak.
Because SeaStreak service originates outside of Massachusetts, the carrier does not require a licensing agreement with the Steamship Authority. However, on Tuesday SeaStreak representatives asked for and received permission to use the Oak Bluffs SSA terminal.
Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said the company would utilize NEFF's existing infrastructure and pay the boatline $2 per passenger per trip.
This spring NEEF president Mike Glasfeld told The Times that the company was looking for ways to keep people traveling to the Vineyard during the slow economy. He said the July fourth weekend round-trip was intended to gauge the level of interest among travelers based in New York and New Jersey.
In a telephone call Monday, James Barker, SeaStreak president and NEFF vice president, said the July fourth trip was a success and boded well for the future. He said the company limited seating to 300 passengers on the vessel, which is capable of carrying 400.
Mr. Barker said SeaStreak carried approximately 290 people to the Vineyard and 260 back. He said the majority of the passengers originated in Manhattan and had Vineyard connections.
Many of the passengers said they would like to visit the Vineyard more often but for the difficulty of getting to the Island. SeaStreak hopes to change that, Mr. Barker said.
The schedule calls for the ferry to leave Conner's Highlands in New Jersey at 3:30 pm. First stop is to Pier 11 near Manhattan's Wall Street section, from where it departs at 4:20 pm. After a quick passenger pick-up a East 35th Street, it is scheduled to leave New York City at 4:45 pm and arrive in Oak Bluffs at 10 pm Friday night. The turn-around trip is scheduled to leave Oak Bluffs at 4 pm on Sunday.
The ferry's route takes it through Long Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, and Vineyard Sound (a route map is available here).
Mr. Barker said the company would arrange for bus service in the event that weather prevented a return. But for now the company anticipates smooth sailing.