“In just a year and a half, the wildly popular East River Ferry—expertly navigated during the pilot program by the BillyBey Ferry Company—has become an indispensible option for commuting Brooklynites and sightseers, proving the viability of ferry service as a way for New Yorkers to get to and from work, and as an attraction bringing economic development and tourism to our bustling waterfront. That’s why I’m one-hundred percent ‘on-board’ in supporting efforts by Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and EDC President Seth Pinsky to extend East River Ferry service. Not only is the Ferry an efficient and enjoyable way to travel, but no matter which way you’re going, one side of the boat always has the best view in New York City: our beautiful Brooklyn waterfront.
As we continue reimagining our shoreline with amenities like Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, large residential developments such as those in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and with industrial space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Sunset Park, the need for dependable, reliable ferry service has never been clearer. And, as Hurricane Sandy showed, ferry service was a critical transportation lifeline when subways and tunnels were crippled by flooding and people depended on the East River Ferry to travel between the boroughs.
Today’s announcement that the City is seeking an operator for the long-term extension of East River Ferry service is certainly welcome news, and as part of the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, I suggest any future operator consider the following additional ferry stops:
- Brooklyn Navy Yard
- Red Hook
- Sunset Park
- Bay Ridge
- Coney Island
- Floyd Bennett Field
- Sheepshead Bay
Lastly, as ridership increases, the fare should be reduced until it equals the prevailing MetroCard fare, with full MetroCard integration allowing free transfers between NYCT and the ferry. By doing this, the East River Ferry service will overcome one of the biggest obstacles to more ridership: namely, the barriers associated with increased commuting costs of paying for both the MTA and the Ferry.
With these proposed improvements, we won’t ‘miss the boat’ on further enhancing the East River Ferry’s reputation as the ‘flagship’ for innovative transportation options in New York City.