By Bill Parry
NYC Ferry will expand this summer, bringing a new connection from Long Island City and Lower Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
The new Lower East Side Route will serve nearly one million riders annually, starting at the landing at the north end of Gantry Plaza State Park, with stops at East 34th Street, Stuyvesant Cove, Corlears Hook and Wall Street/Pier 11.
“Docks are under construction and new ferries are on the way for this summer’s new service,” de Blasio said. “We can’t wait to launch two new ferry lines that will help New Yorkers get to work and school, and to connect with their city.”
The second new line is the Soundview Route, connecting the Bronx at Clason Point to the Upper East Side and on to Wall Street/Pier 11. Last year NYC Ferry’s inaugural year, the system launched four routes: the Rockaway, Astoria and South Brooklyn and East River. These four served nearly three million riders, surpassing initial projections by 34 percent, or nearly 800,000 riders.
“It’s been less than a year since the first NYC Ferry boat carried its passengers from the Rockaways, and already this has become an established part of our city’s transit,” said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “With two new lines and nearly 1.5 million more passengers using the system this year, we’re bringing more transit service to neighborhoods that need it.”
In response to such high demand, especially on the Rockaway Route, NYC Ferry is adding six higher-capacity vessels to its fleet. The larger boats are outfitted with larger engines and designed to hold up to 349 passengers.
The first three of these vessels are expected to arrive in New York Harbor this summer. With 20 boats operating at 21 landings across New York City by the end of 2018, the ferry system will provide a new and easily accessible transit option for traditionally underserved communities where jobs and housing are growing rapidly, especially along the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts.
“Our city’s waterways are a unique resource that provide opportunities to expand the transportation options available to New Yorkers,” City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), the chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, said. “I applaud this expansion of ferry service for the Lower East Side and will continue to advocate for further expansions to support transportation deserts.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who was delayed twice while riding the No. 7 subway line Wednesday afternoon, hailed the new route from Long Island City.
“Because the 7 train is so unreliable, and the MTA is such a mess, anytime we’re able to add mass transit routes into and out of Manhattan the people of Queens win,” he said.
A NYC Ferry ride is $2.75, the same as a subway ride, and includes free transfers to other ferry routes. NYC Ferry is hiring captains and deckhands for the summer 2018 season. Job seekers can apply directly through Hornblower’s website, www.ferry.nyc.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr