City moving forward with plans for five-borough ferry

April 2, 2015 Anna Spivak
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Plans are sailing full-speed ahead for the proposed citywide ferry service coming in 2017.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced a Request for Proposals on March 31 in its quest for ferry operators, transit service providers or other qualified companies to operate the five-borough ferry – a $55 million capital commitment that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in February.

The citywide service would link together existing East River routes with new docking areas and services for South Brooklyn – including stops in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, as well as Astoria, the Rockaways, Soundview and the Lower East Side, something that local pols are pretty excited about.

“It looks like the nickel is in the jukebox and the ball is in motion,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who has been pushing for the return of ferry service for more than a decade, even securing funding never spent by the prior city administration to build a spud barge that would have enabled ferries to dock at the 69th Street Pier. “This is the exciting first step towards Bay Ridge once again having its very own ferry. Bringing back the Bay Ridge ferry will be a game-changer for so many people and the ripple effect from this service will be felt throughout the entire city.”

“Brooklynites are excited for our ferry landings to double in two years, bringing service to transit-starved communities like Bay Ridge, the Columbia Street Waterfront, Red Hook and Sunset Park,” added Borough President Eric Adams. “Everyone wins when we connect our sixth borough, the city’s waterways, to the other five.”

Planned to cost no more than a single subway ride, the first three routes of expanded service will launch in 2017 with two more launching in 2018, according to NYCEDC.

“Expanding ferry service citywide is a major step in our efforts to create a modern and equitable economy that is accessible for all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “This service will not only provide a resilient transportation option to people across the city, but it will also connect more New Yorkers to our waterfront, driving the creation of jobs and housing by linking our city’s emerging innovation centers.”

That’s exactly what involved community members and longtime advocates for the ferry like Peter Killen, executive director of the Bay Ridge Consumer Federation, want to hear.

“Absolutely, we want it,” said Killen, who has advocated for years for the return of the long-lost ferry service to the 69th Street Pier as well as the continuation of the sporadic service at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park. “I want them to complete their surveys, find their vendors as quickly as possible, and give Bay Ridge and Sunset Park connections to the rest of New York.”

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