After years of planning, it’s finally smooth sailing in Brooklyn.
On Monday, May 1, the long-awaited NYC Ferry made its first stop in the borough at Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal.
The Rockaway route officially launched at 5:30 a.m. It currently offers service between Beach 108th Street in Rockaway, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street’s Pier 11.
For $2.75, the same price as a Metrocard, Sunset Park residents were able to hop aboard the fancy new ride, which includes drinks, food, phone charging stations, a temperature controlled environment and is slated to have free Wi-Fi.
The trip from Rockaway through Sunset Park to Manhattan takes approximately one hour — the stretch from Sunset to the city spanning just under 15 minutes.
Community Board 7 member Melissa Del Valle Ortiz was one of the first to ride the ferry via its first stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal Stop at 6:15 a.m. Monday.
“The experience itself on the ferry was nice,” said the rider, who traveled as both a resident and an inquisitive board member. “We got to the city in about 15 minutes which was amazing. It’s great to see communities connect and using our waterways as an alternative means of transportation. These are things we want to see in our community. Using our working waterfront and preserving its intentional purpose and this is a great way to be able to do that.”
Del Valle Ortiz is looking forward to using to ferry as an alternative to congested roads, not only to commute to Manhattan, but also to Rockaway. “We’re definitely looking forward to using it to go to Rockaway to show our support,” she said. “We did a lot of volunteer work during Superstorm Sandy so for us to get out there is great. I remember last year we went, the car ride took forever so it’ll be great to just take a walk to the pier and get dropped off there and commune with the Rockaways.”
The first ride, however, was a bit different than what is to be expected, said Del Valle Ortiz.
“I would say there were more reporters than residents, but I think as the weather gets warmer, you’ll see a lot more people using it for recreational purposes,” she told this paper. “People are going to visit the Statue of Liberty, Queens or people that don’t know how to navigate the subway system will use it.”
Local elected officials also lauded the launch. “Affordable ferry service from Red Hook and Sunset Park will make the commute to Manhattan easier and will bring new visitors to our premier Brooklyn communities,” said Assemblymember Felix Ortiz.
“Citywide ferry service will transform the way New Yorkers experience transportation and our waterfront neighborhoods,” added Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “Fares matching MTA rates are a good start and free transfers between the new ferries and MTA subways and buses should be our goal.”
However, Del Valle Ortiz would already like to see some changes.
“The coffee was $4 a cup which we didn’t like,” she said. “I would like to see if there are ways we can bring local businesses down to the piers, maybe a mom-and-pop cart and using local businesses to be able to sell coffee or food for people who are waiting for the boat to come and to acknowledge how many jobs it created for Sunset Park. Being that this is a stop along the route, we want to make sure jobs are prevalent here.”
She would also like to see better accessibility. “The B11 connects the community down there so it would be nice to see people have a free transfer option from the bus or rerouting the bus to some capacity so that it picks up more people along Fourth Avenue and brings them down to the waterfront,” she said.
On Thursday, June 1, the South Brooklyn route, which links Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Wall Street, will begin.
The Astoria route will launch later this summer with the final lines — the Lower East Side and Soundview — launching sometime in 2018. The East River Ferry route — a refurbishment of the pre-existing ferry service that connects areas like Greenpoint and Williamsburg with Manhattan — also set sail on May 1.
Ferry riders can download the NYC Ferry App to purchase e-tickets. For full schedules, routes and more information, visit www.ferry.nyc.