Guest Op-Ed: Keep the ferry sailing

For residents of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, the R train has always been our transit lifeline. But since August, 2013—when the MTA commenced a 14-month closure of the R-train tunnel into Manhattan to complete critical post-Sandy repair work—many of us have turned to our waterways for high-speed commuting.

The Brooklyn Army Terminal ferry has quickly become an essential fixture of southwest Brooklyn’s transportation network, whisking commuters from 58th Street to Wall Street in just 15 minutes.

Though it’s currently set to expire on January 31, discontinuing this game-changing service would constitute a severe injustice to the hundreds of Brooklynites who have come to rely on it each and every day.

The quality-of-life improvements the BAT ferry offers have quickly become apparent around my community. A recent survey of more than 100 passengers found that riders save a median of 30 minutes each way commuting by water compared to road or rail.

That’s a full hour every day that the ferry gives back to commuters to spend time with family, clock in extra time at work, catch up on sleep or however they choose. Riders also enjoy the comfort, scenic views and relaxed pace of ferry transit compared to the subway (not to mention the full bar on board).

Commuters’ daily routines tend to be pretty well-established, often making new transit alternatives a little slow to catch on. But the BAT ferry has already exceeded ridership expectations, and commuters have quickly incorporated the ferry into their commuting routine, with most riding on a daily basis.

I’m confident that ridership will increase dramatically should additional amenities, such as a shuttle to the pier or a tented waiting area, be added, and additional public outreach be conducted.

And building on this success, I hope to see a commitment for permanent, frequent ferry service to the Brooklyn Army Terminal as well as other transit-poor communities along New York’s coastline, complemented by upland connections to and fare integration with MTA transit.

The R train will not resume its normal service until October, 2014. The BAT ferry has quickly and successfully filled in this transportation gap by providing an alternate means of commutation that is quick, reliable and affordable. I am urging the new administration to set a precedent for innovative transit by continuing ferry service to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Vincent Gentile represents the 43rd Council District in southwest Brooklyn.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.