Southwest Brooklynites are on board with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a $55 million dollar capital commitment that would support the operation of a five-borough ferry system—a citywide service that would link together existing East River routes with new docking areas and services for South Brooklyn, Astoria, the Rockaways, Soundview and the Lower East Side.
Planned to cost no more than a single subway ride, the service will launch in 2017, according to the mayor’s office, and could eventually include further expansion to Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island pending additional funding.
“For years, the conventional wisdom has been that certain neighborhoods are doomed to isolation because of their geography,” said de Blasio in the Tuesday, February 3 address. “We are going to change that. Today, we announce that we’re launching a new citywide ferry service to be open for business in 2017. New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses, so residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.”
The plan comes out of the growing success of some of the city’s more recent and private ferry options, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
“Recently, several ferry services led by partnerships between the City of New York and private ferry operators have emerged, providing strong evidence of an increased appetite for waterborne transit service within the five boroughs,” according to NYCEDC’s website.
EDC even performed a comprehensive study in 2010, examining over 40 sites within the five boroughs with good potential and need for ferry service.
Local pol, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, stands behind the mayor’s decision and “applauds” him for the commitment.
“For residents of Southwest Brooklyn, the R train has always been our transit lifeline. But when the MTA closed the tunnel to Manhattan to complete critical post-Sandy repairs, many commuters turned to the waterways and fell in love with the fast ferry,” said Gentile. “The Brooklyn Army Terminal Ferry quickly became an essential fixture of southwest Brooklyn’s transportation network. For many, the BAT Ferry filled a transportation void by providing an alternate means of commuting that was quick, reliable and affordable. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and his team for working with me and my colleagues to bring back this valuable service.”
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura, is also happy with the news and what it means for Brooklyn.
“[The] new five-borough ferry system represents a significant step towards alleviating the burden placed on our subways and streets, while further uniting the boroughs through increased accessibility to communities across the city,” Scissura said in a statement. “The planned stops in Red Hook, Sunset Park, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Bay Ridge are a tremendous victory for the innovation economy and South Brooklyn as a whole.”
That’s exactly what involved community members like Peter Killen, executive director of the Bay Ridge Consumer Federation, wants to hear.
“I’m concerned about the people living in Bay Ridge,” said Killen. “They need alternative systems for getting into Manhattan, or even if they’re going to Coney Island or Staten Island they need a ferry too.”