The Staten Island Ferry will run less frequently in the coming days amid a shortage of workers that city officials have blamed on the uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The Department of Transportation announced the modified schedule online, noting cuts would impact service between 6 and 9 am and 4 to 8 pm through July 26th. During those times, the bright orange boats will be available every 20 minutes – as opposed to every 15 minutes.
Headways are set to remain at 30 minutes at all other times, though the Department of Transportation warned that some overnight boats may be canceled. Lower level boarding on the subway will also be limited to those with wheelchairs or bicycles.
COVID cases have been growing in New York in recent weeks, an uptick that experts have blamed on the rise of the highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5.
But while the city cast blame for the cutbacks on the virus, an official with the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, the union that represents ferry workers, told the Times that “woefully low wages and high competition in maritime jobs” were also to blame for the staff shortage.
For months, industry leaders have also warned of a looming maritime labor shortage.
Since the ferry officially returned to its pre-COVID schedule last summer, the city has been forced to make repeated service cuts as a result of staffing shortages.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio previously acknowledged last August that the city has struggled to hire staff – though he said at the time that additional staff members were in the “pipeline.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to questions about the ferry’s staffing issues.