Southeast Alaska ferries serve New York City commuters

Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- When the owners of NY Waterway were in the market for new ferries to serve New York City commuters, they went to Allen Marine in Sitka.

The Southeast Alaska company has supplied five ferries to the New York company and plans to deliver four more. And NY Waterway expects to place an order for another three or four vessels, said President Arthur Imperatore Jr.

''New York and Alaska don't have that much in common, but one thing we share is an extensive system of waterways and a need to get across quickly and comfortably. And ferries fit the bill,'' Imperatore said.

The commuter ferry company has a fleet of 25 and carries 34,000 passengers on an average weekday, Imperatore said. With limited bridge and tunnel capacity in New York City and a big price tag for new roads, business at NY Waterway is expanding, he said.

NY Waterway representatives traveled to Sitka to test Allen Marine's vessels.

''We were impressed with the product,'' Imperatore said. ''It's a family business, like ours.''

Allen Marine has about 40 employees in its shipbuilding division and operates a tour company.

Many NY Waterway commuters live in New Jersey or New York's Rockland and Westchester counties, although customers also include visitors and business people who drive to New Jersey and take the ferry into Manhattan. Most of the trips are relatively short, between five and 10 minutes.

NY Waterway is using Allen Marine's ferries for longer trips between 15 and 30 minutes. Allen Marine's 85-foot catamarans now operating in New York carry about 150 passengers and travel at 28 knots.

The vessels' hull design throws a low wake, making them desirable for the market, Allen Marine Vice President Tom Scheidt said. They cost about $2 million apiece.

Allen Marine used United Yacht Transport to take the ships through the Panama Canal and sent a crew to Florida to take the vessels up the East Coast, Scheidt said.

Allen Marine plans to start work soon on four single-hull, 65-foot ferries for East River service on NY Waterway. The vessels will carry about 100 people each and be able to travel at 30 knots. They cost about $1 million each.

An additional order for at least three 105-foot, 150-passenger catamarans would serve a new route between Monmouth County, N.J., and Manhattan.

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