A couple of weeks ago, a headhunter called me into the city for an interview. The interview is another story because, well, it was truly a story unto itself; a lot can happen in an hour.
The most expedient way into and out of the city without too much stress at all is via ferry. The ferry is about a 15-minute drive from our house and it's a pleasant way to get into the city and back. Plus, it takes about 30-45 minutes total from our garage to midtown, as long as the time line is honored to a "T". I hadn't really paid that close attention to the cost of getting into the city until about, well, this trip for the interview.
When I got to the ferry terminal and parked the car, the automated gate wasn't working. They had a guy out there hand-writing parking stubs (these always get paid for and validated when the ferry tickets are purchased). I thought, "Oh, yeah, they're building the new parking garage and are probably bringing the whole system up online together." I parked the car about a mile from the terminal and had a leisurely walk to the terminal.
I walked happily into the terminal and up to the window for tickets to midtown and parking validation. The parking validation now was a separate line and the two were no longer combined onto the same charge. INCONVENIENT! I scoffed.
I said, "One round trip, midtown, please."
The attendant said, "Eighteen dollars."
In my head, I screamed, "Eighteen dollars??!!
" I scoffed and gave the attendant my credit card.
Then I stepped over about 3 feet to the other line for parking validation. The attendant took my hand-written parking stub and said, "That's twelve dollars."
I spoke at the attendant loudly and said, "TWELVE dollars??!!" She nodded. I scoffed and gave the attendant my credit card; it had been $9 about 6 months ago.
I walked away thinking, "OK. Inconvenience. Higher cost. More time consumption. Not a good means of travel into the city on a whim."
New time assessment for the ferry into Manhattan:
- 15 mins = driving to the ferry terminal.
- 5 mins = parking
- 15 mins = paying for ferry tickets & parking - separately
- 10 mins = trip across the river once you get on the boat takes
- TOTAL = 45 minutes (not during rush hour)
New cost assessment for the ferry into Manhattan:
- $18 round trip to midtown
- $12 parking
- TOTAL = $30 for one person - add $18 per person added to your trip... consider a family of 2 parents and two teenagers - that's $84!!
For Matthew and me to take the ferry into Manhattan now, it would cost us $48 on parking and ferry. If we buy one Diet Pepsi for us at the ferry terminal, that's $2; i.e. we would spend FIFTY DOLLARS
before we get to Manhattan. AND, the ferries stop running at 1AM, which would mean we would not be able to get a relaxing nightcap, if we wanted. So, we will most likely not be taking the ferry across to Manhattan ever again, unless time-wise, there is no other efficient way there; then and only then we'll just have to suck it up.
Our most frequent means of getting into the city is by tunnel or bridge. We have E-ZPass (stuck on our windshields), which makes it easy (yes, it's E-Z); plus, where we live, we get into the Lincoln Tunnel or onto the George Washington Bridge right at the front. We don't have to battle the other NJ traffic. Still that costs $13 now. in 2007, it still cost about $5-6. With E-ZPass, there's a discount because of the convenience and expediency of it, so it costs us $9.50 to cross - $0.50 cheaper than a one-way ferry ticket!! When we park on the street in Manhattan, there's sometimes a $1-5 dollar charge depending on how long we'll be there; otherwise, we can find free parking or park in a garage for upwards of $25. STILL cheaper for two people to drive into the city with E-ZPass and park in a garage than take the ferry across!!
I checked into the MTA for subway rates within the city and they're now $2.25 per trip (in 2007 one-way was about $1.25). If we cross the street from our place to a NJ Transit bus and take the bus to Port Authority on 42nd and 8th, one-way per person costs $4.25 (2007 = $3.25), but can take about an hour and fifteen minutes. So, taking public transport round trip into the city for the almost 90-minute trek costs $8.50 - $15 (if we take the subway or PATH anywhere). There's also a convenient light rail that goes by the ferry station and crosses our road about 2-3 miles from here. We could take combos of bus, train, and PATH into the city for a little more money and possibly a little less time, but it would be totally less hassle to stay on the bus.
The cost of living in this area is certainly going up - not only in food at grocery stores, but also in public transportation. And where is the extra money going for the bridges, the ferries, and the ferry parking, I wonder?! There don't seem to be any visible improvements anywhere, but I know that the Holland Tunnel is being renovated, but I'm not sure if rates have gone up solely because of that. Whatever the case, I do remember Bloomberg mentioning that he was hoping to lessen traffic into Manhattan by raising the Hudson River crossing fares, which can't happen. It only angers people because it's still not fully cost-prohibitive. It's also sad for people who don't make that much and how much these added costs cut into what they're bringing home; their salaries certainly aren't getting better!
Some things HAVE to change.