Ferry Frozen! Winter Brings New Obstacle to Rockaway Route


The ferry is operating! The ferry isn’t operating! Nevermind, it’s back up again! That was the scenario on Tuesday, January 2 as the NYC Ferry faced a new obstacle for the new year—an icy Jamaica Bay.

As temperatures continued to reach below freezing, Jamaica Bay started to succumb to the effects with icy patches forming throughout. The Rockaway ferry started the day off operating as normal, but by late Tuesday morning, the ice has surrounded the waters by the ferry landing at Beach 108th Street and NYC Ferry announced that the service would be suspended until further notice.

Following the service disruption., NYC Ferry reached out to The Rockaway Times (RT) to provide an update. “Because of significant ice conditions around the Rockaway ferry landing, NYC Ferry service to and from Rockaway was temporarily suspended as of 11:30am today,” a spokesperson said. “In response, NYC Ferry has deployed a tug boat to attempt to break the ice. If NYC Ferry determines that conditions are safe, ferry service will resume.”

The Rockaway Times observed the ferry dock to see the tugboat going to work to clear the ice around the landing and by 2 p.m., NYC Ferry issued another update saying the ferry would resume normal operations with the 2:15 p.m. ferry leaving from Pier 11 in Manhattan. Normal service continued throughout the day.

NYC Ferry says they are doing what they can to keep riders informed about such changes.

“If service is ever changed or suspended, our dispatch team will make announcements at the landings being affected and a service alert will be posted on our website, app and social media platforms. If there is no change in our service and you see no alert has been issued, you can rest assured we are operating normally on either a weekday or weekend schedule,” a spokesperson told The Rockaway Times.  We inquired about how the city knows about the conditions at the Rockaway landing to determine if schedule changes need to occur. “Our crew can send us pictures of the landings and also, we work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC)  to monitor the conditions. We use cameras as well that help us determine whether it is safe to continue to operate at the landing.”

The Rockaway ferry wasn’t the only route affected by the deep freeze. Starting on New Year’s Day, Seastreak ferry, operating between Highlands, NJ and Manhattan, announced that service was suspended due to icy conditions. With the below freezing temperatures expected to continue into the weekend, ferry riders all around should brace themselves for further disruptions due to ice. “Keep in mind, because this is a natural inconvenience, there is very little we can do about it other than to keep the safety of our riders in mind when dealing with the situation,” an NYC Ferry spokesperson said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience moving forward.”

NYC Ferry seems to be doing the best it can with the circumstances. Before the RT went to press, the Rockaway ferry was spotted being led by a tugboat breaking through the ice ahead as the ferry continued its regular schedule on Wednesday morning.

Photo by Kevin Boyle.

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