STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- Staten Island Ferry service experienced "significant changes" due to a flurry of workers calling out sick, and they advised the public to avoid non-essential travel on the ferry.
On Friday morning, the ferry operated on hourly service with one ferry going back and forth to Lower Manhattan after a "vast majority" of essential staff called out sick as part of an ongoing labor dispute over hiring and pay.
The ferry returned to 30-minute service by Friday afternoon with continuous service planned for overnight and through the weekend.
Under normal circumstances, the ferries run every 15-20 minutes.
"These changes are extremely disruptive to the tens of thousands of people who ride the ferry every day, Staten Islanders commuting to work or home to their families, and U.S. military personnel visiting for Fleet Week," the Department of Transportation said in a statement.
Ferry workers are upset about stagnant pay and years of chronically low staffing.
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella called the "severe disruption ... unacceptable" and said it "hurt thousands of people unnecessarily."
On Friday morning, many commuters said even though they were frustrated, they agreed with the workers.
"I support the workers, I understand being a teacher I understand unions, I understand people earning a fair wage so I respect that," said commuter Marc Rolla.
A similar staffing problem played out in Aug. 2022, and the DOT has repeatedly emphasized that one absence in a major title can disrupt service, with the U.S. Coast Guard mandating that each vessel be staffed with at least one captain, one assistant captain, three mates and various other positions, like chief marine engineers, marine engineers and marine oilers.
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