A northeast Queens councilman continues to advocate for advancements in ferry service and has pushed for legislation to create a director of ferry operations.
At the April 9 City Council Stated Meeting, Councilman Paul Vallone introduced a bill that would establish the director position within the Department of Transportation (DOT). The role would involve the operation and maintenance of existing ferries, ferry route development and evaluation, identification and assessment of potential sites for expansion of ferry service and public outreach and community engagement.
“Ferry service is an efficient transportation option for New Yorkers and a vital asset to our city’s economic development,” said Vallone, who also serves as chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “As evident in areas of our city like northeast Queens, which lacks subway access and oftentimes reliable bus service, it is clear that New Yorkers need better ways to travel between the boroughs.”
The director is responsible for all ferries operated by the Hornblower company but will not be responsible for the Staten Island Ferry. Hornblower currently operates six ferry routes with oversight from New York’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Vallone’s bill, which is cosponsored by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, would not change the overall operational structure and control of the current system could lie under any city entity — namely EDC or DOT.
“As we continuously look for ways to meet the extraordinary demand for public transit, our city’s rapidly growing ferry service is quickly becoming a viable mass transportation option in the city of New York,” said Vallone. “A dedicated director of ferry services to manage our waterways will ensure that our ferry system will continue to grow and improve. I welcome continued investment in this successful mass transit mode and will continue to advocate for further expansions, especially into the northern Queens waterfront.”
The councilman has been a longtime advocate of getting ferry service for his constituents. Back in September, Vallone pushed for a Willets Point ferry stop for northeast Queens residents following an EDC feasibility study. In 2014, the councilman along with then-Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Councilman Peter Koo, penned a letter to request a pilot program testing out the long-term viability of ferry service from Manhattan to Citi Field in Flushing and to Fort Totten in Bayside.
NYC Ferry Service operates a combined 21 stops in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, with more stops in development. In 2020, they will launch the St. George route connecting Staten Island with the West Side of Manhattan and a Coney Island route in 2021, which connects to Wall Street/Pier 11.
A current EDC report said that the ferry service serves approximately 18,000 riders on weekdays and 28,000 riders on Saturdays and Sundays.