The city is launching a new Red Hook Summer Ferry to shuttle Brooklynites and visitors between Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan and two stops in Red Hook: the long-dormant Van Brunt Street ferry landing and IKEA.
To run on weekends from Saturday, May 25 through Labor Day Weekend/Monday, September 2, the service expands on existing ferry service out of the IKEA landing and is the first announcement from the city of more ferry service since officials launched the three-year pilot program of East River Ferry routes back in summer of 2011.
The goal, says city officials, is to provide a boost to the local economy, which has been struggling to slowly recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy‘s floodwaters.
“Hurricane Sandy hit the Red Hook community hard, and that’s why we’re making it easier than ever for New Yorkers to get to small businesses in the area in order to help the community continue to recover,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By expanding the already successful free IKEA ferry to another stop in the heart of Red Hook, and by connecting it to the East River Ferry that is celebrating its two millionth ride this week, the free Red Hook summer ferry will help boost the local economy. I look forward to the Red Hook Ferry’s opening this Memorial Day and encourage all New Yorkers to try it.”
Local business owners were even more enthusiastic, with the owners of Botta di Vino and Fort Defiance issuing exuberant statements of support for the new summer ferry.
“Economically speaking, after Hurricane Sandy, we learned that the East River can bring heartache, devastation and loss of business,” said Triciann Botta, owner of Botta di Vino. Now, the river will contribute to “bringing profits back to businesses and the assurance of survival and progress within this community. So, bring it on!”
“We’re really looking forward to sharing our neighborhood this summer with visitors [and neighbors],” said St. John Frizell, owner of Fort Defiance. “There’s really nothing like approaching Red Hook from the water—you get a feel for the maritime nature of the community, and hands-down best views of the Statue of Liberty. If you’ve put off that trip to Red Hook all winter, now’s the time—after one visit, you’ll be hooked!”
IKEA Brooklyn store manager Fredrik Rabe also chimed in, stating that the entire community is “thrilled” at the news. “Every business was hit hard, especially our neighbor Fairway. We are grateful for this much needed initiative by the mayor’s office,” he said, then adding that “There are many amazing shops, art galleries & restaurants in this area that people still need to discover! Warm welcome to Red Hook!”
The ferry will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and there will be two boats to help serve demand, which has steadily grown in recent years as Brooklyn continues to grow as a destination for tourists and Manhattan transplants, and as Brooklynites have gotten used to the idea of having ferry service as an alternative public transportation outlet to subway and bus routes.
Each landing will be served every 25 minutes, improving upon the current frequency which is approximately 40 minutes. Free transfers will be provided northbound on the East River Ferry at Pier 11, connecting riders from Red Hook to Midtown Manhattan.
The Red Hook Summer Ferry is the result of a partnership between New York Water Taxi; Billybey Ferry Company, which operates the East River Ferry; Fairway Market; IKEA; and the O’Connell Organization, which owns the pier at which the Red Hook Ferry will operate.