April 9th 2020

The men and women who are keeping the Staten Island Ferry running in the midst of the global pandemic are front line responders who are providing an essential public service to all New Yorkers, says New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“Keeping the ferries running, especially so that healthcare professionals and other essential workers can continue to commute, is an important lifeline,” she wrote in an April 6 letter expressing the city’s gratitude.

“In ways we know you may have never expected, you are on the front lines, and I know that you are proud to be serving your City… We are grateful to you all.”

In the letter, Trottenberg said the department is working closely with the unions that represent ferry crews to add on-board and shoreside protections to make the working environment safer.

“We are working hard, along with your union leadership, to address your concerns and make the ferry operation safe and sustainable for you and the traveling public,” she wrote.

“We are continuing to strengthen our coordination and are appreciative of their partnership,” she added.

“I can assure you all that they have been strong and effective advocates for you.”

Trottenberg gave a special shout out to MM&P Staten Island Ferry Representatives Rich Russo, Ray Hennessey and Frank Lamiquiz.

Among the changes that the city and the unions have implemented to increase safety:

— reducing the ferry schedule to hourly to help reduce the strain on workers and allow for more cleaning of the boats;

— acquiring and distributing masks and gloves;

— closing bathrooms at different times to reduce cleaning needs and installing portable toilets shoreside.

“We are also working closely with you and our colleagues at NYPD to enforce social distancing in the terminals and on the boats,” Trottenberg wrote, adding that the city has launched an aggressive social media and press campaign to get the word out.

She said Staten Islanders “are used to rushing onto and off the boats,” an old habit that dies hard.

“But we are making headway in keeping the crowds apart,” she told crewmembers. “We will need your help to keep reinforcing that message.”

“We will continue to keep monitoring our workforce as the crisis continues and looking to find any other ways we can help protect their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of

our passengers,” she wrote.

“Once again, the leadership of both DOT and Ferries appreciate your support and hard work during this unprecedented crisis,” she wrote.

“We are very proud of the work being done to keep the ferry running for our fellow New Yorkers.”

“Please continue to stay safe and healthy and if you need anything, please reach out to us!”