City must take advantage of ferries

The May 30-June 5 editorial “Ferry Good Idea” is the wave of the future. Our waterways are an underused natural asset which can offer significant transportation alternatives for thousands of New Yorkers.

Most of our existing public transportation and roadways are already operating at or above capacity. New ferry services can be implemented far more quickly than construction of new subways, commuter rails or highways. These can take years or decades until completion of environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements and actual construction before reaching beneficial use.

Completing all of the above along with 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 subways, commuter rails or highways. Use 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, N.J. Later that year, in November, the old Erie Lackawana Rail Road suspended ferry service between Barclay Street and Hoboken, N.J.

Fast forward to today. Thousands of daily commuters use ferries from Hoboken, to the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan. There are also 66,000 daily patrons of the Staten Island Ferry system which connects St. George, S.I., with the Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal.

Unlike the other four boroughs, 500,000 Richmond County residents have no direct subway or commuter rail system linking them with the rest of the city.

More than two years ago, thousands of riders began using 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.

Who would not want to enjoy 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.

There are tens of thousands of residents living near Fort Totten in Bayside and Citi Field in Flushing who would welcome the opportunity.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, L.I.