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NYC Ferries Will Likely to Have to Run on More Efficient Fuels, Following Passage of Council Bill

(Photo: Courtesy of NYC Ferry/Hornblower)

Dec. 28, 2017 By Tara Law

The Department of Transportation will soon have to assess whether city ferries should run on alternative fuels as opposed to diesel, following the passage of a City Council bill Dec. 19 and the likely signature of the mayor.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), is a step toward requiring city ferries to use more efficient, environmentally-friendly fuels as opposed to the standard petroleum diesel fuels.

The legislation, which Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign into law, would mandate a two-year study to consider the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, hybrid electric and fuel-cell electric.

The study would look into availability of these fuels as well as storage, ferry compatibility, potential limitations, regulations and other issues.

The city would convert the ferries to these energy sources if the study determines that using renewable fuels is feasible and practical.

The law would apply to city owned ferries, such as the Staten Island Ferry, as well as ferries operated on behalf of the city, such as the NYC Ferry system.

The council voted unanimously to approve the bill.

Constantinides thanked his fellow councilmembers for backing the bill, describing the ferries as one of the city’s “most sustainable transit options.”

“As use of our citywide ferry system has grown exponentially, we must innovate the type of energy we use to fuel the boats,” said Constantinides.

In August, a new ferry line opened connecting Astoria, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City and Manhattan. NYC Ferry ridership has exceeded expectations.

“This bill will ensure that our ferries use renewable fuels rather than the standard petroleum diesel fuel that dominates currently,” Constantinides said in a statement.

“Studies by the National Institutes of Health have shown that petroleum diesel exhaust is a major source of air pollution, which causes adverse health effects. Standard petroleum diesel fuel exhaust emits greenhouse gases which are contributors to climate change.”

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