Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

All aboard: Ferry service from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to Liberty and Ellis Islands has resumed.

The ship-to-shore transport, which shut down Jan. 3, was restored on March 12, announced Josh Knoller, a media representative for Statue City Cruises, the ferry operator.

“The reopening comes as visitation to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island continues to rebound from pre-pandemic levels,” Knoller said. “Visitors can enjoy the great outdoors, trace their family history on Ellis Island, visit the iconic Statue of Liberty Museum, take a hard-hat tour of Ellis Island’s hospital complex, and so much more.”

“Statue City Cruises” has replaced “Statue Cruises” as the moniker for the service. “It’s the same company, just rebranded,” Knoller explained. The company also offers ferry service to the historic destinations departing from Battery Park in Manhattan.

Passengers should expect no changes in trip scheduling or pricing, Knoller said. Riders can continue to purchase tickets for ferry trips either in-person at the ticket booth at the park or online.

The ferry runs from Liberty State Park had been suspended January 3 due to budgetary considerations, according to the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over Liberty and Ellis Islands.

At the time of the temporary closure, John Piltzecker, superintendent of the State of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said it would be too costly this winter for the Parks Service to pay for the added security needed to patrol the ferry boarding site and to keep the site clear of snow and ice.

Piltzecker didn’t say how much more money the service would need to provide the extra personnel and equipment.

Sam Pesin, president of The Friends of Liberty State Park, said: “It’s great they’re resuming the service from Liberty. As the warmer weather approaches, I hope that everyone, from out-of-state tourists to local school groups, will join the five million annual visitors to Liberty State Park and take advantage of easy ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.”

Meanwhile, the Parks Service continues to await restoration of the ferry docking site in Liberty State Park where passengers entered a security shed before boarding a barge leading to the ferry. In the winter of 2020, that barge partially sank. When that happened, the service moved the ferry slip to a position opposite  the former historic Central Railroad terminal.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Highway Administration have earmarked grant money, supplemented by the N.J. State Parks Service’s capital reserve fund, for a covered docking slip and barge capable of accommodating a Statue City Cruises ferry and two other boats for possible emergency contingencies.

Last summer, the state Department of Environmental Protection presented a design concept for the new facility but, since then, there’s been no further word on when construction bids would be sought or when work might begin.

Ron Leir

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...