High-speed, turbine-powered hydrofoils will be whisking New York City gamblers to Atlantic City next year under a plan proposed by the New Jersey resort.
The hydrofoils, which cruise at 52 knots, could cut 50 miles and nearly two hours off the trip, thereby allowing gamblers to leave New York harbor in the afternoon, gamble and dine in Atlantic City and return to Manhattan the same evening.
"We don't have all the answers yet, but this could be the most scenic and pleasurable way to get here. Atlantic City is going to be the hottest spot in the country, and what better way to get here than by a fast boat," Edmund Colanzi, commissioner of parks and public transportation for the New Jersey city, said in a telephone interview.
The Grumman Corp., the Long Island aircraft firm, has already completed a conceptual design of a hydrofoil to make the Atlantic City run in an hour and 15 minutes, compared to the approximately three hours it takes to drive.
A Grumman spokesman said it is similar to the "Dolphin," a commercial hydrofoil that for several years has been used in Miami, Nassau and the Virgin and Canary islands.
The 100-ton, propeller-driven ship has submerged hydrofoils on which the hull rides above the water surface to obtain greater speeds. With a range of 400 nautical miles, it can skim across 10-foot ocean swells without discomfort to the passenger.
By land, the trip to Atlantic City is 125 miles; the hydrofoil would cut that to 75 miles in a direct line, Colanzi said. He said a feasibility study showed the hydrofoils could operate more cost-effectively than the ones used between Hawaiian islands.
Potomac Transport Co., a consulting firm retained by Atlantic City, reportedly has also considered a hydrofoil designed by Boeing Co. of Seattle, which produces a water jetstream that propels the craft.
Grumman also designed for the Navy the "Plainview" hydrofoil, a 320-ton craft that is the largest made, and has done design work on a proposed 2,400-ton hydrofoil that would be used as a helicopter carrier ship.
Conceivably, the larger ships could be adapted for commercial use and increase passenger capacity for the Atlantic City run.
Colanzi, while stressing that the proposal is still in its initial stages and that financing of the $7 million hydrofoils has not been solved, said a private study suggests that casino gambling will generate 11.2 million visitor days to Atlantic City in 1982, and that by 1990 it will rise to 23.8 million visitor days.
Many of the visitors will come from the heavily populated New York metropolitan area, he noted.
Atlantic City officials are also studying possible rail routes from New York, but Colanzi said those passengers would have to go to Philadelphia and transfer to the Lindenwold spur to Atlantic City, a trip of 4 1/2 hours. The New Jersey city is negotiating with Amtrak and Conrail for a route that would bypass the Lindenwold line, he said.