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For thousands of residents of the East Bronx and transit deserts of Soundview, Castle Hill, and Throggs Neck, the much-anticipated expansion of ferry service scheduled to begin in 2018 can’t arrive soon enough.

The ferry, which will cost the same as a subway ride, will whisk commuters from Soundview to Wall Street in just 43 minutes inclusive of two stops on the Upper East Side (East 90th and E 62nd Streets).

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The problem is that it will skip 34th Street, which currently serves the existing East River Ferry service, and go straight to Wall Street/Pier 11. Meanwhile, the new Astoria and Lower East lines will have access to this important midtown hub.

But why do Bronx residents get short-changed yet again? Why not also stop at 34th Street like the other new lines coming into service?

We could also use the ferry service at Yankee Stadium to alleviate the major overcrowding that occurs on the 4 line at 161st Street/River Avenue and 149th Street/Grand Concourse.

The new service will link approximately 500,000 New Yorkers across 21 neighborhoods including 15,000 NYCHA residents. NYCEDC estimates that the expanded ferry service will carry 4.6 million riders a year along the 6 routes.

The new barges will be constructed over on Staten Island (our veteran borough with ferry service) and the entire expansion is expected to create at least 155 new jobs with living wages of for crew of $15+/hour.

Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering
Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering

NYCEDC further states:

New Jobs:

  • At least 155 new jobs in the New York Harbor
  • Crew will earn wages above $15 per hour, along with a comprehensive benefits package.
  • Hornblower has a strong history as a strong unionized employer
  • Hornblower will participate in the City’s HireNYC program, which matches qualified applicants from neighborhood-based WorkForce1 training centers.

Routes:

  • Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes scheduled to launch in 2017.
  • Rockaway route will connect to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street.
  • Astoria route will connect to Astoria, Roosevelt Island (Cornell Tech), Long Island City, East 34th Street and Wall Street.
  • South Brooklyn route will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Pier 6, and Wall Street, with an optional link to Governors Island.
  • Soundview and Lower East Side routes to launch in 2018.
  • Routes from Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in planning stages for future expansion.
  • Combined routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway.
  • Over half a million New Yorkers live within a half-mile of one of the 21 Citywide Ferry landings, including 15,000 families living in NYCHA developments.
Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering
Citywide Ferry Landing Rendering

Commuting Times:

  • Rockaway to Wall Street (1 stop): Approximately 1 hour
  • Astoria to E 34th Street (2 stops): Approximately 22 minutes
  • Astoria to Wall Street (3 stops): Approximately 38 minutes
  • Soundview to Wall Street (2 stops): Approximately 43 minutes
  • Bay Ridge to Wall Street (4 stops): Approximately 48 minutes

Pricing:

  • Cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride
  • 4,000 daily East River Ferry customers will see fares reduced from $4 to the cost of a single subway ride
  • Fare will allow for free transfers to any other ferry route within the system, including the East River Ferry.
  • Both paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit, or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities.
  • Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee.

The Boats:

  • Each boat will be able to carry at least 149 passengers.
  • All boats will be equipped with WiFi.
  • Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, and will comply with the requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Local Law 68 of 2005.
  • New boats will be equipped with the most modern engine design available to reduce emissions and noise, as well as an efficient hull design that will limit wakes and maximize fuel economy.
  • City contract with Hornblower allows the company to charter vessels if necessary to meet the implementation timeline.

City Support:

  • City is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades, including building 10 new ferry landings. Barge construction is currently underway at a facility on Staten Island.
  • City is providing $30 million in operating support per year, over a period of six years. Based on a projection of 4.6 million annual trips, the per-trip subsidy for Citywide Ferry Service will be $6.60, lower than the nearly $8 per trip subsidy on the Long Island Railroad or the nearly $15 per trip subsidy for express buses. City is providing $10 million for additional startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines.
  • Potential sponsorships would offset operating costs.
  • City negotiated an option to acquire at least 18 state-of-the-art, highly efficient passenger ferry vessels, allowing for greater operational flexibility and providing significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the service (roughly up to $5 million per year).
  • City will receive a portion of fare-box revenue if ridership exceeds 5.6 million passengers.

What do you think?

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