Letter: Our federal elected officials should address noise pollution of ferry boats

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October 4, 2013- Letter from Dean, resident of River Terrace

Dear Editor:

This an opportune time to discuss the “green” aspects of Battery Park City as they relate to the air quality outside of the Solaire residential building. The Port Authority Ferry Terminal is producing a massive amount of noise pollution in Battery Park City.

There are federal laws to silence train horns in quiet zones that logically should apply to New York Waterway ferry horns. Rep. Nadler attended a CB1 meeting recently and, thanks to your effort, is finally aware of this problem.

I urge all community leaders, including Rep. Nadler, to discuss this major matter of noise pollution that affects thousands of people who live in or visit the community every day. It is important to fight against noise pollution that often leads to others problems including crime.

William H. Stewart, former US Surgeon General, stated, “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”

Since 2005, American communities have been able to establish Quiet Zones, designated stretches of track where the routine sounding of train horns near public crossings is not required under federal laws. Logically, the laws that silence train horns should be an example to silence ferry horns. The Federal Railroad Administration’s requirements for quiet zones include safety standards that must be met to establish a quiet zone. As freight rail traffic increased in urban areas, there were more proposals to establish quiet zones.

The Noise Control Act of 1972 was the first federal law to regulate noise pollution and found 1) the major sources of noise include transportation vehicles, and 2) while primary responsibility for control of noise rests with state and local governments, federal action is essential to deal with major noise sources in commerce control of which require national uniformity.

It’s time for community leaders to step up and address noise pollution and take actions similar to those used against train horns.

Letter to Rep. Nadler about ferry boat horn problem

Rep. Nadler might change Coast Guard horn laws

New Yorker Magazine covers our story on kayak activists

Coast Guard responds to letter about boat horn noise


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6 Responses to Letter: Our federal elected officials should address noise pollution of ferry boats

  1. JFC says:

    Yes, please put an end to this madness. The boat captains are registering their protest over this misguided “rule” forced on us by “smartest people in the room” busy-bodies by sounding their horns louder and longer than they need to. I wish that every time one of the horns blow, we could make a phone call to the people who started this whole thing.

  2. Editor says:

    People in your building need to form a group, and partner with people in Gateway and Solaire, then pressure the federal officials to tell the coast guard to make changes to the law


  3. larry says:

    There are no federal noise regulations for ferry boats, but there are for heavy trucks and motorcycles. Congress defunded the EPA Office of Noise Abatement and Control way back in 1982 which effectively ended the federal government’s involvement in regulating other noise sources like ferry boats.

    Rep. Nadler could be of great help in submitting a bill to fund the EPA ONAC and get it back in the business of developing federal noise regulations. Noise pollution is a growing problem and there is a serious need for action at the federal level since the states have not addressed this issue adequately, and that is an understatement. The funding for the ONAC would only require a measly 20 million dollars a year and would pay big dividends in bringing some peace and quiet to the public.

  4. Dean says:

    Supporters of ferry horns (seemingly only a group of noisy kayakers) make many highly objectionable comments like: “deal with it, cities are noisy” or nimbyish: “if you live there, you are privileged and you deserve it”. They show an obvious lack of sensibility to a community of residents and visitors. Do only Battery Park City residents occupy its schools, libraries, parks, restaurants, hotel, stores, movie theater, museums, etc. on a daily basis? Thousands that pass through on the esplanade are treated to noise pollution. It is actually quieter in midtown avenues on a daily basis than Battery Park City. Most civilized people can agree that extremely loud horns from trucks in other neighborhoods are as offensive as relentless noise in their own neighborhood.

    Recently, a Montessori school opened on the waterfront in Battery Park City near the terminal. There is a park, esplanade, playground, hotel, restaurants, and two public libraries opposite the terminal. Any community that cares about quality of life issues should be free of this overwhelming amount of noise pollution.

    Many know about the tireless effort to compel New York Waterway to reduce pollution from their engines. Noise polluters tend to advertise their lawlessness. To learn more about noise pollution and train horn laws please look here:


    It will open your eyes and your ears. It is not acceptable for ferry Captains to shrug and say “Coast Guard says we have to” and then lay on the horn with a fat finger at 6am until 10pm every 10 minutes. They certainly aren’t saying look at all of the kayakers we’re saving.

    A 2005 federal regulation that for the first time set standards for quiet zones is prompting communities to create them. The rule says whistles must sound at any intersection not protected by both gates and flashing lights. People got angry about the horns with pajama protests and cities changed the crossings. They found other ways to alert people. They created quiet zones and used common sense solutions. Maybe a massive Port Authority Ferry Terminal is one gigantic and sufficient clue for a kayaker to beware?

    Making excessive noise indicates a lack of respect for others and leads to community deterioration. The Census Bureau reports that noise is the number one complaint people have about their neighborhoods, and the major reason why they wish to move.

  5. Kris says:

    Please sign our online petition against honking ferries. It’s easy and free!

    Eight emails will be automatically send out after your signature!

    Stop Honking Ferries in New York City

  6. pbmissions says:

    Collectively you can make the change..join hands and you will get results. best wishes.

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