NY Waterway Founder & President Arthur E. Imperatore marked his 93rd birthday Sunday, July 8, and was back at his desk Monday, July 9, his hand firmly on the wheel of the largest privately operated commuter ferry system in the nation.
From his glass-fronted office in the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken, Mr. Imperatore is in plain sight of many of the 32,000 passengers who ride his 34 ferries each work day.
A U.S. Army Air Corps veteran of WWII, Mr. Imperatore and his brothers started APA Trucking after the war and built it into one of the most successful trucking businesses in the nation. In 1986, he turned his transportation skills and his interest to the Hudson River and started NY Waterway, an enterprise dubbed “Arthur’s Folly” because most transportation experts considered passenger ferries outmoded.
Imperatore invented the modern commuter ferry system and proved his critics wrong. His ferry fleet, supported by a fleet of 70 buses to move passengers inland from the water’s edge, has become a critical part of the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area mass transit network.
Imperatore’s vision has played an important role in the development of waterfront communities throughout the region.
NY Waterway ferries carried more than 150,000 people out of Manhattan on 9/11 and were key to the recovery effort when other mass transit systems were shut down.
With 34 ferries operated by highly-trained mariners, inspired by Imperatore with a sense of duty, NY Waterway operates what is in effect the largest evacuation and rescue fleet in New York Harbor. Ferry crews have rescued almost 300 people from local waters in the last 31 years, including 143 people rescued from U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in “The Miracle on the Hudson,” the most successful marine rescue in aviation history.
Throughout the years, Imperatore has received many awards for his corporate and humanitarian contributions, including three honorary doctoral degrees, the prestigious Horatio Alger Award and the first U.S. Senate Productivity Award, which was presented to him by New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. In 2017, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Today, at 93, Mr. Imperatore is still hard at work, overseeing daily operations, the construction of new ferries and the further expansion of ferry service throughout the region.
He did take a few minutes to accept the heartfelt birthday wishes of his 500 dedicated employees and to thank them once again for their service.