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New York - NYC Looks To Expand Ferry Service To Its Far-flung Ports

Published on: February 7, 2015 11:00 PM
By: AP
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In this Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, photo commuters disembark from a ferry at the 34th Street pier in Manhattan. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to bring ferry service to some of New York City's waterfront neighborhoods.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)New York - The skyscrapers of Manhattan look almost close enough to touch from parts of the waterfront of Brooklyn’s industrial Red Hook neighborhood.

But a distance of mere miles can take an hour or more in travel time for residents in the remote area, who have limited access to bus routes and no subway stations in the immediate vicinity. A plan from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would give them, and New Yorkers in some other waterfront neighborhoods, another option — ferry service.

De Blasio hopes ferries will open up some of those far-flung locales and make them more attractive as a place to live, easing a housing crunch in a city expected to reach a population of 9 million by 2040.

“For years, the conventional wisdom has been that certain neighborhoods are doomed to isolation because of their geography,” de Blasio said in his recent State of the City address. “With ferry service, “We are going to change that.”

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Under the mayor’s plan, the city would spend an initial $55 million for a ferry system that would start with three routes in 2017 and add two more in 2018. Getting from a ferry dock in Lower Manhattan to up-and-coming Red Hook across New York Harbor, for example, would take just 20 minutes.

Ferry service can’t come fast enough for Tony Kokale, who bought Mark’s Pizza five years ago and has been keeping his hopes up that the bright redevelopment future of Red Hook he’s been hearing about is getting closer.

“For the community, I believe it’s going to be excellent,” he said. “It would bring more people to Red Hook and might make it a little bit different.”

Some transit advocates aren’t quite so convinced. Ferry service in the New York region “has been tried many, many times with some success but more failures,” said Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow for transportation at the Regional Plan Association.

Cost is an issue, he said. While all public transportation gets some kind of government subsidy, different modes require different amounts, and ferries will not have anywhere near the kind of ridership numbers the city’s subway system does. “How high will the subsidy have to be for each rider that you’re carrying?” he asked.
In this Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, photo a commuter ferry travels on the East river from Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York to the 34th Street Pier in Manhattan. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to bring ferry service to some of New York City's waterfront neighborhoods.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Zupan said the city should proceed cautiously, testing the routes to see which ones have the best chances to succeed.

The city has said it would set aside $10 million to $20 million for subsidies to keep a ferry ride fare at the same price as a subway ride, $2.50, and has estimated more than 4 million people a year would take advantage. More rides than that are taken on the subway every single weekday.

The plan is for the first three routes to originate from the Astoria, Rockaways and South Brooklyn sections of the city in 2017. The next year, additional routes would start for Soundview in the Bronx, and the Lower East Side. The five new routes would join the ferry routes already in existence, the Staten Island Ferry route and the East River Ferry route. The city also is looking ahead to a potential Coney Island/Staten Island route.

Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University, thinks it’s smart for the city to be looking at ferry service.

“The city is growing, much of the growth is occurring in areas that are not accessible to mass transit, and ferries offer flexible transportation,” he said.

Not everyone is so enthusiastic. Gerrett White moved to Red Hook six months ago from another part of Brooklyn because he was looking for something a little more removed.

“I moved to Red Hook specifically because it was out of the way,” the 36-year-old said.

He readily admitted that he would benefit from a transit mode that made crossing boroughs simpler.

“Actually getting into the city, it’s a pain in the butt from here,” the sales rep said. “Getting into Manhattan using the ferry would also be a nicer commute.”

But he’s worried that opening up Red Hook, which suffered extensive damage in Superstorm Sandy, would hasten the kind of gentrification that has been widespread in other parts of the borough.

“My only concern,” he said, “would be making this place more accessible in a negative way.”



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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 08, 2015 at 12:04 AM Neptune Nathan Says:

It's about time some transportation options other than the dangereous over crowded and in snow storms not running subways, were offered to the residents of Coney Island. The MTA even cut out our X29 Express Bus which served this area. Yes Yidden, there are thousands of us still living in Coney Island area. Not all of us live in BP.

2

 Feb 08, 2015 at 12:27 AM Tzi_Bar_David Says:

Another of deBlasio's schemes that will go nowhere. Going from Soundview to lower Manhattan by boat, any idea how long that would take, and how much will be siphoned off the subways and buses that actually do work to pay for the ferries?

Will no one deliver us from this turbulent mayor?!

3

 Feb 08, 2015 at 01:32 AM orchid Says:

Wish there would be a ferry from Monsey to Manhattan

4

 Feb 08, 2015 at 02:26 AM Mark Levin Says:

Reply to #1  
Neptune Nathan Says:

It's about time some transportation options other than the dangereous over crowded and in snow storms not running subways, were offered to the residents of Coney Island. The MTA even cut out our X29 Express Bus which served this area. Yes Yidden, there are thousands of us still living in Coney Island area. Not all of us live in BP.

Riiiiiiiight because the ferries will run more often than the subways? THE FERRIES AREN'T GOING TO RUN IN STORMS!!!


Last time i checked coney island had subway service and for sure buses that connected to subways. Don't like it? Move CLOSER to the subway instead of being snarky to others.

5

 Feb 08, 2015 at 10:33 AM charliehall Says:

Reply to #2  
Tzi_Bar_David Says:

Another of deBlasio's schemes that will go nowhere. Going from Soundview to lower Manhattan by boat, any idea how long that would take, and how much will be siphoned off the subways and buses that actually do work to pay for the ferries?

Will no one deliver us from this turbulent mayor?!

The 6 train, which is the closest subway to Soundview, is so overcrowded at rush hour that any relief would be a godsend to commuters.

The truth is that ferries can be implemented much more quickly and less expensively than building new subways or busways, and existing subway and bus routes are all over capacity. De Blasio deserves credit for pushing this.

6

 Feb 08, 2015 at 10:33 AM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #3  
orchid Says:

Wish there would be a ferry from Monsey to Manhattan

Monsey is many miles inland. But there should be a ferry from Nyack, which started out as a river town.

7

 Feb 08, 2015 at 10:36 AM Charlie Hall Says:

Reply to #4  
Mark Levin Says:

Riiiiiiiight because the ferries will run more often than the subways? THE FERRIES AREN'T GOING TO RUN IN STORMS!!!


Last time i checked coney island had subway service and for sure buses that connected to subways. Don't like it? Move CLOSER to the subway instead of being snarky to others.

Buses and subways often don't run in storms, either. And most of the major subway lines can't handle any more people at rush hour -- at many stops in Manhattan in the evening rush hour it is very common to have to wait for a second or third train before you can board a train. Anything that ferries can do to relieve the overcrowding will be a great plus! (Ferry terminals are also a lot less expensive than new subway lines or busways.)

8

 Feb 08, 2015 at 12:47 PM Liberalism Is A Disease Says:

Will this be funded by John Q Taxpayer or will this be totally paid for by the rider? If its not paid for TOTALLY by the riders, its not worth it.

9

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