Daily, 24 hours
R at Whitehall St.-South Ferry; 1 at South Ferry; J, Z at Broad St.; 4, 5 at Bowling Green
Since 1905, the Staten Island Ferry has functioned as both public transportation and a sightseeing bargain. Although the ride is used primarily as a service for commuters—shuttling 19 million passengers a year between Staten Island and lower Manhattan for free—it's also a means for tourists and locals to get a sweeping view of the downtown skyline, the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Long regarded as a dependable means of conveyance—running every half hour (15 to 20 minutes during rush hour) and taking 25 minutes each way—the storied ferry was the subject of a freak accident in October 2003 when one of the five vessels slammed into a pier while docking amidst high winds. Eleven commuters were killed; a criminal investigation revealed that the pilot had passed out at the controls. Since then, precautions and protocols have been adopted and the ship in question was returned to service with a permanent memorial plaque. Now on weekdays, five boats make 109 daily round trips while on weekends, three boats are employed for a scaled-back schedule. Bring a jacket or at least a windbreaker, even in the summer. The winds on the water can be surprisingly brisk.Terminals
On the Manhattan side, the glass-clad, airy Whitehall Ferry Terminal reopened in February 2005, replacing a cramped terminal damaged by fire in 1991. In Staten Island, the once-dingy St. George Terminal was also overhauled in 2005, adding retail shops and other ammenities—to keep tourists from ferrying right back to Manhattan.
Beer, soft drinks, sandwiches, hotdogs, and pretzels are available for purchase on board, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.