Superstorm Sandy

Riding the Last Day of Statue Cruises Free Ferries from the Battery to Liberty State Park to the HBLR Home

Today, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was a completely free day for me. Tomorrow I leave to drive up to Syracuse with my family but I am taking the train back via Port Henry on the Adirondack to ride the VIA Rail Canada equipment that will be operating on it. My more immediate decision was on where to railfan. I considered trying to do both my projects, riding the last day of the free Statue Cruises Ferries between Battery Park and Liberty Landing Marina and heading out to the Rockaways (A train to Shuttle bus to the H train one way, the shuttle back) but decided that is overly ambitions and did just the Statue Cruises ride instead.

I leave the house slightly after noon, walking down the hill since I have a library book to pick up at my local branch that just arrived after I reserved it months ago. I go to 181st Street on the 1 train and realize I have to buy yet another MetroCard (those $10 cards with just 4 rides and $1.70 leftover really don’t last long, I’ll buy another monthly after Thanksgiving) and have an uneventful ride sitting on the local reading, not bothering to switch to the express from 181 Street down to Rector Street. The train leaves 181 Street at 12:25pm and gets me to the present terminus of Rector Street at 1:10pm, there I don’t have to pass through any high turnstiles to leave fare control, they have all been removed as the downtown platform is an awkward terminating platform, as my 1 train leaves (with a few passengers, the train isn’t checked) to go around the South Ferry loop (something I realize I’ll have to do at some point).

I stop by Rector Street on the R as well.

Next I start walking south towards South Ferry and Battery Park. I stop at the South Ferry-Whitehall Street station to get photos of now plywooded up entrances. The station is definitely closed for the long-haul.

I then follow the pictures with arrows of Lady Liberty by the construction around Castle Clinton, pass the lines of tourists taking overpriced tour boats to simply see the Statue, which is still closed because of damage at the docks. I see a simple sign mounted on foam board for the Ferry to New Jersey where a deck hand clicks a clicker and I board the Miss Gateway. There are no signs on the boat that this is the last day of service but I pick up a schedule that says the ferries are operating all day making ten minute crossings with two boats during rush hours (every 20 minutes) and two boats (every 40 minutes) during middays. I board the next ferry at 1:40 and am sitting on the nearly empty sun deck of this boat normally used to ferry tourists to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We head towards the old CNJ Communipaw Terminal where I think the ferry will dock, its where Jersey trips to the Statue of Liberty leave from, but we continue up the inlet between Liberty State Park and Jersey City beyond the old railroad station to the bland dock at Liberty Landing Marina. There I get off at 1:50 and ask the deckhand if its the last day for the ferry. He doesn’t know but another passenger tells me it is.

We all walk off the boat and reach a line of buses, that are the emergency shuttles. Most are Coach of America of Orlando Coaches that have Wyoming license plates (like how all Greyhound buses have Texas License plates). I then notice 3 SEPTA buses and walk into the line of buses along the cobblestone plaza. I want to also wander into the old CNJ Terminal but it’s completely closed. I don’t get quite as many pictures as I like of SEPTA buses out of place with the NYC Skyline behind them hearing someone yelling. It turns out its the dispatcher yelling at another bus driver when I walk back over who tells me “Take as many pictures as you want.” I’m also told its last day for SEPTA “There done” and Coach America will run the only emergency shuttles that will be left next Monday running in simple shuttle service along the closed Gladstone Branch.

I ask about the next shuttle bus to the Liberty State Park Light Rail station but am told it won’t be until the next ferry arrives in 30 minutes. Its a beautiful Fall Day and I decide to just walk the slightly over a mile to the Light Rail. I have to pass trough a road closed checkpoint since the PATH I’m on is technically closed. The police have luckily no qualms with me walking when I say “I’m coming from the ferry.” I get to the light rail and get a few photos.

Next I need to figure out how to buy the right light rail to bus ticket which should cost $3.05 like my southbound trip on Monday. I can’t buy a two-zone light rail with transfer ticket, just a one way zone 1 transfer and pay $2.80 getting an itemized receipt for my single ticket. A One-Way Light Rail ride ($2.10) and a one-way transfer (70ยข).

A train to Hoboken Terminal comes in and I decide to take that. I remember how bad HBLR Weekday midday service is now after NJ Transit Service cuts with trains running on each of the 3 branches only every 20 minutes. I take this to Hoboken Terminal which has a timed connection to a Tonnelle Avenue train but realize that spending 20 minutes wandering around would be good. I get photos of the closed off PATH station and crowded line of people going to one of the 5 births that have been built in their historic location where two-level Eire Lackawanna Ferries left from until 1967. I get on the next Tonelle Avenue train after 3 (HBLR gives you 90 minutes of unlimited travel per ticket) and take it to the underground Bergenline Avenue Station.

I get off at Bergenline Avenue at 3:18 in plenty of time for a few photos before taking the elevator up to the street for my 3:35 bus ride on Route 181 that originates at the station heading for the GWB Bus Terminal. I’m the only one who boards the bus at the station bus loop and I hand over my light rail transfer which confuses the driver a bit. He tells me I technically owe 70 cents but I assume just 25 cents the difference between $2.80 and $3.05, the price of a southbound trip. He just tells me not to worry about it.

The bus leaves the light rail station and is a long slow ride north up Bergenline Avenue making plenty of local stops with local travelers. One women gets on and even asks what the fare is in Spanish. She clearly normally uses the private minibuses that go along Bergenline Avenue to the GWB Bus Station. The driver says the fare in Spanish. The Edgewater bus I took on Monday is definitely much faster. I get off in Fort Lee at 4:15 and have a nice walk home with the sun setting and a nice view south to the Manhattan Skyline to get home. I’m very happy I managed to get a ride in on Statue Cruses on their last day as well as SEPTA buses with the NYC Skyline behind them.