With less than 24 hours till its official launch, NYC Ferry’s South Brooklyn Route celebrated a “Maiden Voyage” on Wednesday, May 31 – one this paper was lucky enough to be a part of.
The “VIP” ride-turned-sneak peek at the new waterborne service set sail from Bay Ridge’s 69th Street Pier at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, and made a quick stop at Red Hook’s Atlantic Basin where Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials made celebratory remarks before one final push to Wall Street’s Pier 11.
First focusing on the line’s impact on the oft-stranded residents of Red Hook, the mayor went on to stress that this launch is also noteworthy for Bay Ridge.
“It’s a great day for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn as well,” he said, congratulating Councilmember Vincent Gentile – who was aboard the ship for its maiden voyage – for consistently fighting for a ferry for his district. “The people in Bay Ridge, for the longest time, have looked across the water, seeing how close Lower Manhattan is, and have wondered why there couldn’t be ferry service.”
“As others have said, New York has a waterfront that other cities would die for,” said Gentile, “and it has been my hope since the day I took office in 2003 to have daily ferry commuter service in the city of New York. . . We did not give up the fight. Fourteen years later, Mayor Bill de Blasio has fulfilled that vision.”
That vision, he said, comes with quite the view.
“If you’ve got the R train blues – and we all know the R in R train stands for ‘Rarely’ – mosey on down to the 69th Street Pier and join a new way to travel,” Gentile added. “A new, comfortable, beautiful way to travel on the South Brooklyn ferry.”
The first official ride out of Bay Ridge will be at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 1. From the Ridge, vessels on the South Brooklyn line will continue on to Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 near Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 in DUMBO and, finally, Wall Street.
Total trip time, according to schedule, will be just 43 minutes.
“Southwest Brooklyn has historically been a transit desert for thousands of New Yorkers, but that changes tomorrow with the launch of the South Brooklyn Route,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President and CEO James Patchett, adding that, since launching its first two lines last month, NYC Ferry has already carried 243,000 passengers. “For the same cost of a subway ride, residents and workers in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Red Hook will now have a fast and affordable commuting option to Lower Manhattan and other parts of the city.”
According to current timetables, the ferry will depart every 30 minutes through the weekday morning rush (through to 10 a.m.), and again from 4 p.m. till last ride, and every 45 to 55 minutes during all other hours of operation, with one final trip from Bay Ridge pushing off at 9 p.m. on weekdays.
Weekend service will run similarly, with the first ride of the day at 6:30 a.m., and the last at 10:05 p.m.
Furthermore, come weekends, the route will also make mid-day loops from its Red Hook landing to Governors Island when people are permitted to access the island.
A ride on the NYC Ferry — formerly known as the five-borough or citywide ferry system — will cost the same as one on the subway — just $2.75 — which riders will be able to pay for with their smartphones, credit cards or cash, as well as purchase monthly unlimited passes. Once aboard, riders can enjoy free Wi-Fi and purchase snacks and both boozy and non-alcoholic beverages. There are also bike racks aboard the boats.
The concession stand on board – operated by a vendor named New Stand that markets itself as, “If your favorite blog and your favorite bodega had a baby” – sells everything from wine and beer to candy and coffee to Pocky and Polaroid cameras.
The $55 million project – operated by Hornblower — was introduced by the mayor and NYCEDC in February, 2016. All six of the service’s routes are slated to be up and running (or sailing, rather) by 2018.
The Rockaway, Queens line was the first route to launch, having set sail a month ahead of schedule on May 1, along with the refurbished version of the pre-existing East River route.
The Bay Ridge landing is one of over 20 new ones being constructed for the transportation alternative, according to officials, who also say the ferry service, in total, will span over 60 miles of previously underutilized New York City waterways and accommodate approximately 4.6 million passengers.
“This is ferry, ferry good news,” said Gentile.
Click here to view the route’s full schedule.