New York City

Mayor de Blasio launches new, unified ferry service for NYC Waterway riders

$325 Million Dollar Aquatic Expansion Leaves Some Neighborhoods High & Dry

April 20, 2017 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen (center with bottle) christens the ferry vessel Lunchbox as Hornblower CEO Terry McCrae (to Glen’s left), Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY Chaplain Ann Klansfield (with mic), NYC Environmental Development Corp. President James Patchett (behind Glen) and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile (far right) observe. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
Share this:

On this sultry Monday morning, low-hanging clouds threatened rain as Mayor Bill de Blasio and a crew of business and political leaders cruised triumphantly into Brooklyn’s Pier One aboard the ferry vessel “Lunchbox.” Named by second-grade students from Bay Ridge’s P.S. 170, Lunchbox was the first of 20 new 26-meter, aluminum-built vessels that will form the core fleet of NYC Ferry.

“This is going to change how New Yorkers travel,” explained Franny Civitano, director of community development for Hornblower, the private sector company responsible for operating the consolidated ferry system. “The goal is to bring transportation into areas that have typically been lacking,” she went on to say. “With the full rollout of six additional routes [by 2018] we anticipate about 4.6 million riders per year.”

Subscribe to our newsletters

Escorted by an as-yet unnamed sister ferry and FDNY boat spraying water, Lunchbox rode briskly over the choppy East River, the mayor and his retinue arrayed on the top deck. After a rendition of the “Sailor’s Paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm” by FDNY Chaplain Ann Kansfield, Lunchbox received its formal christening by “godmother” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.

“We want to make life easier for New Yorkers,” de Blasio explained after disembarking. “A ride in the ferry makes things a little nicer, and gets you were you’re going to go.”

The official launch date for NYC Ferry is May 1. Each vessel will carry up to 150 passengers, have free Wi-Fi and offer beverage service and racks for bicycles. The cost for a one-way trip will be $2.75, the same as a ride on the subway, and will offer transfers to other ferries within the system.  Current users of the East River Ferry will actually see a reduction in their one-way fare of $4. All vessels comply with both federal and municipal codes for disabled access.

De Blasio praised members of his staff, especially Deputy Mayor Glen, along with NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President James Patchett, former EDC President Maria Torres-Springer and NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for creating a new ferry system essentially from scratch and bringing it in ahead of schedule: “This was a labor of love,” he said. “They knew they were starting a whole new chapter in New York City history.”

When the NYC Ferry system is complete in 2018, it will cover more than 60 miles of waterway. In addition to new vessels and routes, the city announced new docking facilities for Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, both to be up and running when the South Brooklyn route launches in June of ’17.

Not everyone is fully on board with the consolidated system as it stands. Coney Island residents, in particular, believe their needs have been ignored by the $325 million-dollar expansion. Despite the accumulation of D, F, N and Q train stops at the Stillwell Avenue station, many western Coney Island residents rely on MTA buses and transfers for an hour-long subway ride into Manhattan, according to reportage from The Gothamist and King’s County Politics.

NYC Councilmember for the 47th District Mark Treyger and state Assembly,ember for the 46th District Pamela Harris both have urged the NYC EDC to consider adding a ferry stop for Coney Island.

A feasibility study centered on a Coney Island ferry prepared for the EDC in 2012 concluded that the vast majority of users would be visitors and tourists rather commuters. Comparing two potential seaward landings, the study suggested they would require the addition of expensive breakwaters to protect the site from rough seas, while a possible landing in Coney Island Creek would avoid the issue of high waves but “is not a compelling choice for a ferry landing geared towards visitors and tourists, who will not be familiar with the layout of Coney Island.”

While the EDC is reported to have a Coney Island ferry stop “on its radar,” there appear to be no plans at present to include it in newly expanded harbor transit system.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment