Don’t forget about us.
Following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement in Bay Ridge on Thursday, May 3 that the city’s Executive Budget will include $300 million in new capital funding over the next several years for NYC Ferry to pay for new 350-passenger capacity ferries, improvements to piers and docks, and a second homeport where ferries will be maintained and repaired, six councilmembers are now imploring that the service be expanded to other areas, such as Coney Island and Canarsie.
“As Mayor de Blasio announces yet another significant investment into the NYC Ferry program, we join countless residents in outer borough communities across the city in continuing to be baffled by the fact that the administration has yet to implement ferry service in parts of the city that feature the lengthiest commutes and the most limited transit options,” asserted a joint statement by Councilmembers Mark Treyger, Joseph Borelli, Mark Gjonaj, Alan Maisel and Deborah Rose, and Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo. “We are long beyond the point of needing to see fast and equitable expansion of the ferry program so that more of our city’s residents can benefit from this program, not just those who are fortunate enough to live in certain zip codes.”
Treyger has long advocated for the program to be expanded in his district. Last August, Treyger and de Blasio hosted a town hall meeting in Coney Island where the topic was addressed.
At the time, de Blasio contended that, once the final ferry in the first round was launched, the city would assess the response. “If the service is strong, and so far it has been very strong,” he said, “then we will start the process of looking at Coney Island in addition to other parts of Staten Island and Queens.”
The councilmembers pointed out that, in fact, the response to ferry service has significantly exceeded expectations, with an estimated nine million passengers projected to use it by 2023, twice what had been expected.
“This latest investment is simply further proof that there is a real demand for ferry service across the city. As New Yorkers continue to deal with delayed, overcrowded, and poorly maintained subway and bus service, and face increasingly congested traffic, ferry ridership is surging,” the councilmembers added. “Yet City Hall persists in leaving southern Brooklyn communities like Coney Island and Canarsie and communities in the Bronx and Staten Island out of the ferry picture. New Yorkers from these communities, where bus or subway access is limited, if available at all, often endure commutes to school or work that are well over an hour long.”
Treyger and the other councilmembers promised they would continue to fight for expansion of the service to the areas they represent.
“The Council is joining New Yorkers across the city in speaking up about the need for more transit access. It’s time for City Hall to listen,” they said.