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Ferry very good for Coney Island, residents say during visit with mayor

Coney Island residents joined government officials in celebrating the news that a new ferry will link Coney Island with Wall Street in Manhattan, during an encounter with the mayor, who came to the shorefront neighborhood on Mon., Jan. 14 to enlarge on the announcement he had made on the expansion of ferry service during the State of the City address on Thurs., Jan. 10.

The new NYC Ferry, which will made an intermediate stop in Bay Ridge at the 69th Street Pier, will dock somewhere along Neptune Avenue. Infrastructure needs to be built in Coney Island, probably along Coney Island Creek, to accommodate the ferry service, so the new route will likely be operational “sometime before 2021,” officials said.

The ferry will run under the auspices of the Economic Development Corporation.

Residents who went to Public School 188, 3314, to hear details from Mayor Bill de Blasio, were largely optimistic about the news.

“It’s lovely, it’s exciting and I can’t wait for it,” said Lakeisha Bowers, a resident of the western portion of Coney Island. “The trains were taking hours, with delays – a very long time.”

Antoinette Tucci, P.S. 188’s principal, said the ferry is going to make traveling for her staff, parents and children, to and from Coney Island, so “much easier.

“Traveling is better, commuting by ferry is better than train,” Tucci said. “My parents and students love the idea.”

Francis Schwartz, a long-time resident of Coney Island, said that as a senior, it is much easier to take a ferry than to travel by subway.

“I want to take the ferry instead of dealing with traffic,” Schwartz said. “As a senior, I want to go the city, the theater. This will make it easier.”

Students at the school were equally elated.

“When you take the ferry, you get fresh air,” said Victoria Elorriga, 10, a fifth grader at the school. “I think that we should have ferry because a lot of people have to go to work and sometimes they are late and the ferry help a lot. It would be easier for us kids because sometimes we travel with our parents – it’s a good idea. “

Laila Ali, 9, also a fifth grader, complained that it takes too long to take a bus and then train to get to the city.

“The train takes much longer with so many stops,” Ali said “And then, you get a beautiful view of the ocean.”

Councilmember Mark Treyger, representing Coney Island, called it a win-win.

“It’s a fantastic idea,” he said, stressing that, “Most residents of Coney Island live on the west end and their commute takes over an hour and 30 minutes. With the ferry, it will be cut to 37 minutes. That’s life-changing for the folks that call Coney Island home.:”

Eddie Mark, district manager of Community Board 13, concurred.

“It takes over 20 minutes just to take the bus to Stillwell Avenue,” Mark said. “Our commutes will be cut in half.  Getting to the city in 37 minutes is a game changer for Coney Island residents who have had to deal with this commute for over a century.”

However, Mark was less than enthusiastic about the idea of building the pier on Coney Island Creek. He said it would be better to build on the ocean side, citing the Rockaway experience; when that ferry was introduced, more people than anticipated wanted to use it.

“They had to use a larger ferry because of the people going to the beach and I would think Coney Island would have the same issues,” he said. “I would hope that they could build a terminal instead of a pier because they will have many more people than they might anticipate, especially to go to the beach.”

Besides the new Coney Island to Wall Street route, the city will expand service from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and the West Side. It will also add a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a new landing at Ferry Point in the Bronx, where access to the Ferry Point Park landing within the park will be enhanced, and the parking lot improved.

Citywide ferry service was announced in 2016; the first routes kicked off the following year.

The entrance to Coney Island Creek from Gravesend Bay where the ferry will likely enter.

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