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Most NY Waterway Service Restored After Ferries Suspended Due To Safety Inspections

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New York Waterway is facing questions Monday after a majority of its ferries were pulled for failing safety inspections by the Coast Guard.

The waterway says nearly all of the ferries are back in the water Monday night. But what safety issues grounded them in the first place?

Everything was moving smoothly Monday night at New York Waterway, which was a stark contrast to what CBS2 saw in the morning. Only one route was still experiencing delays. A spokesperson told CBS2 the company promises nothing like this will happen anymore but wouldn't go into specifics about the violations.

It was an unusual Monday morning rush for commuters in Weehawken, who had to wait in a long line for the ferry which stretched from the dock where the boat pulls up, through the inside of the building, all the way to the front doors.

"Thirty minute delays. I got to work late, very inconvenienced," said one commuter.

But even more concerning for some is the reason behind the shortage of ferries. The Coast Guard suspended 23 of New York Waterway's 32 vessels last week after routine inspections found them operationally unfit.

A spokesperson for the company told CBS2 Monday she was caught by surprise too.

"We do have procedures in place that, I guess, apparently weren't followed completely, so they are going to look at that internally," said New York Waterway spokesperson Jennifer Schuck.

But when CBS2's Christina Fan pushed the company on what those specific problems were, they refusted to elaborate.

"Is there a reason why you guys can't tell us what exactly the violations were?" Fan asked.

"Well, that's more a question for the Coast Guard, you know. I would really ask them," Schuck said.

CBS2 reached out to the Coast Guard, who told us inspectors found issues with fire safety and other vital emergency systems. We were told they weren't immediate life-threatening dangers to passengers but enough to warrant suspension of service. But when Fan pushed them on specifics, they wouldn't answer either.

"It's a little bit of an alarming percentage of their boats not up to standard. Maybe they should have more frequent inspections," said Tenafly resident Matt Lilling.

"I was kind of surprised hearing it, but now that attention is drawn to it, I feel that it'll be properly handled," one commuter said.

All but one ferry line was restored back to normal service for the Monday evening commute.

New York Waterway said three routes will be operated with minor changes Tuesday morning:

• Liberty Harbor to Pier 11/Wall Street will operate every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
• Paulus Hook to Harborside to West 39th Street/Midtown will operate every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes from 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
• Customer who use Harborside to Brookfield Place/Battery Park City will be directed two blocks to Paulus Hook.

Call 1-800-53-FERRY or click here for more information.

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