Last month, Mayor de Blasio announced the building of a comprehensive five-borough ferry system that would knit together existing East River routes with new landings and services from the Rockaways to the Lower East Side and everywhere in between.
The new ferry service will cost the same as a Metrocard and officially set sail in 2017, supported by city operating support and a $55 million capital commitment. This was fantastic news because I have long fought for the return of permanent ferry service in southwest Brooklyn and also helped create the city’s first EcoDock at the 69th Street Pier.
New York City was made by water. Indeed, before there was a city, there was the harbor – and right along with San Francisco and Hong Kong, New York City has one of the greatest natural harbors in the entire world.
I was very happy to see that Bay Ridge will once again have its very own ferry. Returning ferry service to Bay Ridge is not only a desirable and easy way to commute, but it is also a key component of any sensible comprehensive plan to relieve New York City’s choking traffic congestion.
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. Access to a true five-borough ferry system will be just another jewel to add to our crown here in southwest Brooklyn, one that will be a boon to small businesses and real estate alike!
For residents of southwest Brooklyn, the R train has always been the sole transit lifeline. But when the MTA closed the Montague Street tunnel to Manhattan in order to complete critical post-Sandy repairs, many commuters turned to the waterways and fell in love with the fast ferry.
The Brooklyn Army Terminal Ferry quickly became an essential fixture of southwest Brooklyn’s transportation network, whisking commuters from 58th Street to Wall Street in just 15 minutes – now just imagine having a ferry landing back at the 69th Street Pier!
In southwest Brooklyn, non-drivers have very few transportation options. The return of ferry service to the 69th Street Pier is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. As many of you know, these boats are quiet, quick, green-friendly and able to accommodate commuters during peak rush hours. The alternative is to leave commuters either to drive into the city or spend upwards of an hour on subways or express buses.
In a city with close to 600 miles of waterfront, ferry service should be a priority, not just an alternative and I applaud Mayor de Blasio for this initiative and what it will mean for the outer boroughs.
City Councilmember Vincent Gentile represents the 43rd Council District.