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You can learn a lot from the past, when numerous ferries operated to and from lower Manhattan and other locations around NYC.

Let us celebrate as East River Ferry ridership reaches the one million mark. Our waterways are an underutilized natural asset that can offer significant transportation alternatives for thousands of New Yorkers. Most of our existing public transportation options as well as our roadways are already operating at or above capacity. New ferry services can be implemented far more quickly than construction of new subway, commuter rails or highways.

Additionally, finding funding for ferry boats, docks and parking with costs in the millions may be easier than finding the billions of dollars necessary for construction of new or extended subway, commuter rails or highways. Utilization of ferry boats equipped with modern fuel efficient engines can make a positive contribution to air quality.

In April 1967, the old Jersey Central Rail Road ended ferry service between Liberty Street and Pavonia, New Jersey. Later that year, the old Erie Lackawana Rail Road suspended ferry service between Barclay Street and Hoboken. Fast forward to today. Thousands of daily commuters use ferries from Hoboken, New Jersey to the World Financial Center. There are also 66,000 daily patrons of the Staten Island Ferry System which connects St. George, Staten Island with the Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal.

Over a year ago, thousands of ferry riders began utilizing the East River ferry connecting various waterfront neighborhoods including Long Island City, East 34th Street, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Wall Street and Governors Island. All are now enjoying the fresh air and breeze that only waterborne transportation can provide. Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can.

Larry Penner

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