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Thread: New York Water Taxi Ferries

  1. #91
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    East River Commuter Ferry Service Could Be Halted, Again


    (photo from Brownstoner)

    For almost two years, city officials have extolled a proposal for a five-borough network of ferries, an ambitious plan that the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said would make New York “a shining example of urban sustainability for cities all over the world.”

    The plan moved quickly. A ferry linking the Rockaways, in Queens, to Manhattan started operating last year; there also was an announcement that service on the East River would be expanded by next spring. Then, in February, came more promising news: The existing East River network would continue to be subsidized by the city through 2010.

    All the while, developers welcomed the service — just a quick jaunt to Manhattan, with tickets $3 to $5.50 — as an amenity in marketing expensive condos on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts.

    But eight months later, the operator of the ferry service, New York Water Taxi, says that it has not been able to come to an agreement with the city about continuing the subsidy, and that it might have to halt the East River commuter service for the third time in four years. Further, the city’s Economic Development Corporation said that because of the recession, plans to expand the ferry service on the East River have been delayed for at least a year, until spring 2011.

    City officials said they remain committed to the East River ferry routes. Madelyn Wils, the executive vice president of the development corporation, said “the administration is working with the City Council on both a short-term and long-term sustainable citywide ferry plan.”

    But the threat of another winter of canceled service has left many to wonder, and has added to fears that the longer ferries are seen as unreliable, the less New Yorkers will see them as a viable means of transportation.

    It is unwelcome news for a small but loyal group of riders who have come to rely on the ferry service as an alternative to the busy subway lines that feed neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Robert G. Thorne, a research scientist at the New York University School of Medicine, rents an apartment at Schaefer Landing, a development in Williamsburg that is also the site of the ferry landing.

    On Tuesday morning, as they do every day, Mr. Thorne and his wife boarded the boat and waved goodbye to their daughter. “This saves us 35, 40 minutes each way,” he said. “That’s more time with our daughter.” Given the state of the L train — “horribly overpopulated” — Mr. Thorne, who has lived in the development since 2007, said losing ferry service would cause him to strongly consider moving.

    Many of the passengers live in luxury developments like Schaefer Landing. Privately, officials say they would feel more comfortable putting money into a service with more stops and a broader cross section of passengers.

    To operate the East River route, New York Water Taxi needs about $900,000 in subsidies each year, city officials say, aid that becomes crucial during the winter, when ridership — which peaks in the summer at about 4,350 passengers per month — falls by about half. Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, said he had submitted a number of subsidy proposals to the development corporation.

    “We’re waiting to hear back,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can work something out. If not, we’ll give the passengers the courtesy of a two-week notice, and we’ll have to cancel the service.”

    A spokesman for Ms. Quinn said in a statement that the Council speaker was “confident we will be able to preserve and expand existing service.”

    The East River service stops at Schaefer Landing; Long Island City, in Queens; and Fulton Ferry, in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, it stops at Pier 11 near Wall Street and at East 35th Street.

    Under the expanded plan, two more stops would be added, in North Williamsburg and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And the ferries, which run twice in the morning and twice in the evening, would operate much more frequently.

    Even with the current limited service, and what seems to be an almost total absence of marketing, word of the ferries is drawing more people who do not live in luxury developments.

    At the Schaefer Landing stop, where no sign or schedule notes the existence of waterborne transportation, Carveth Martin, a graphic designer, stood with her bike on Tuesday morning. She learned about the ferry by word of mouth, and now — for the friendly atmosphere, the absence of the crowds, the short commute — she takes the water taxi to Wall Street several times a week.

    “It would be a bit of a tragedy to lose this boat,” she said.

  2. #92
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    Ferried Away

    As winter looms, East River water taxis can't stay afloat

    The Water Taxi fleet motors past the Battery on the Hudson.

    Brooklyn’s waterfront condo dwellers are again up a creek. For the third time in four years, commuter water taxi services on the East River are likely to take a winter hiatus as ferry operator New York Water Taxi weathers a seasonal dropoff in revenues. What’s more, the city has halted plans to increase East River ferry service by spring 2010, pushing that expansion back at least another year.

    That’s bad news for developers of luxury residential projects in Brooklyn and Long Island City, who banked on water taxis to carry commuters to Manhattan. One survey found that nearly half the residents of Williamsburg condo Schaefer Landing considered the taxis a significant factor in their move there. But now they’re caught in a chicken-and-egg conundrum, as the city bides its time until building occupancy—and ferry ridership—increases.

    Plaintive though the cries of Brooklyn bloggers may be, only a vocal minority regularly relies on water taxis, which get about 4,300 monthly riders in summer. The service will need a much wider range of commuters if it is to catch on permanently. New York Water Taxi requires about $900,000 in yearly subsidies to continue operating East River service through the winter, when monthly ridership drops by half.

    Both Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi, and David Lombino, a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which subsidizes the commuter service, said talks to keep ferries running through the winter are ongoing. But commuters have learned to expect the worst: In 2008, service shut down on January 1 and didn’t return until June.

    Launched that same year, the EDC’s ambitious ferry plan included new and expanded service throughout the five boroughs and continued subsidy of East River service through 2010. The first phase, opened last May, connected Far Rockaway to South Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The second phase, now delayed, would add new stops at North Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and a new landing at Roosevelt Island, funded by $4.4 million in federal transportation funds, with an additional $1.1 million from the Bloomberg administration and the city council. (Even more quixotically, perhaps, the EDC recently announced a feasibility study for commuter ferry service from Manhattan to Coney Island, with stops near the New York Aquarium, KeySpan Park, and a new pier to be built in Coney Island Creek.)

    Encouraging a green mode of transportation that requires little infrastructure would seem a no-brainer for the Bloomberg administration.

    But as city officials face a $5 billion deficit, developers, commuters, and ferry operators can agree on one thing: Fiscal, not environmental, sustainability will determine the fate of waterborne transportation in the coming year.

    Jennifer K. Gorsche

  3. #93
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    What New York Needs: More Water Taxis


    SEATS WITH A VIEW The City Critic traveling with Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning, on the Ikea express

    From water’s edge you can cross the Hudson River — or the East River, as you prefer — in less time than it often takes to wait for the subway. Even at the height of rush hour, you’ll get a seat, quite likely one near a window. From out on the water, the city you think you know will seem taller, more glamorous, more cinematic.

    You may pass under a bridge or two, or even three, and as you do, your mental soundtrack may switch to Gershwin — or Jay-Z, as you prefer. You might even imagine a burst of fireworks off the starboard bow. The buildings will grandstand for your attention, beckoning you to their shore, until they grow bigger and bigger and you draw nearer and nearer and suddenly there you are, standing at their feet, windblown and a bit giddy. Why doesn’t New York have more ferries?

    Countless thousands of apartments have recently been built along New York’s rivers, but the rivers themselves are relatively uncrowded. Other cities have ferry lines sprouting out of every pier like weeds from a crack in the pavement. Why not New York?

    This week is the unofficial start of ferry season. Routes to Mets and Yankees games are up and running. The Governors Island Water Taxi Beach (a summer fun party zone with siblings in Long Island City, Queens, and the South Street Seaport) just welcomed its first visitors of the year. And a new weekend line that goes from Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridge Park and, on Fridays, to Governors Island just made its debut.
    Just in time for all this activity, the question of what role ferries might play in the future life of the city is about to come into sharper focus.

    Three public entities have been considering it from different angles. The Economic Development Corporation is soon to release its “Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study.”

    The Department of City Planning is interested in how ferries could revitalize the waterfront. And the Office of Emergency Management is looking around for mass-evacuation plans. (In a crisis, you wouldn’t want to be left hailing a taxicab.) Put all that together, and there’s a chance that a decade from now, ferries could be mentioned along with buses and subways as main-course options on New Yorkers’ transportation menu.

    An estimated 100,000 people a day ride New York’s ferries. The options are pretty good if you want to commute between Lower Manhattan and either Staten Island or New Jersey. They’re not bad if you want to shop at Ikea. They get thinner if you want to go between Manhattan and the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Dumbo, or Long Island City. If you’re commuting from the Rockaways, in Queens, you have one shot a day. And beyond that, nothing.

    It’s not a simple matter to expand mass transit. Planners typically divide the city into tiny “transportation analysis zones,” then connect all the trips made in that zone to all their destinations. They break it down by time of day and type of vehicle, then factor in cost of travel, duration of travel, number of transfers and so on. Then they do the same thing for potentially thousands of other zones. The result is a precise mathematical model that indicates who is going where and how, and therefore what new options they might need or use. It can take months to get it right.

    Which is several decades and a few billion dollars less than it will take to get a Second Avenue subway (may your grandchildren live long enough to see its inaugural run).
    Ferries are a growth opportunity. To add new routes, you don’t need to dig a tunnel or lay a track. You don’t need to reroute traffic, build bridges or add lanes. And in many parts of New York, unlike almost every other city, you wouldn’t need to build big parking lots where riders could leave their cars. What cars?

    What you need is a viable pier and a boat. You need a convenient way to get from water’s edge to people’s ultimate destinations. And you need someone to be in charge of it all.

    Right now, with the major exception of the Staten Island Ferry, all the city’s routes are privately operated, mostly by the NY Waterway (which gets a boost from Goldman Sachs, whose employees commute in from New Jersey) and the New York Water Taxi (which receives subsidies from the city).

    It’s hard to imagine ferry service expanding very far unless it becomes a public initiative, an integrated system with coordinated schedules and MetroCard access. But who would lead such an initiative? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority? The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey? The Department of Transportation? No one seems to know.

    Whatever value these public agencies ultimately assign to reducing car traffic, easing interborough transit, supporting waterfront development or other such civic goals, New Yorkers have a personal reason to care. Ferries are fun. They tend to cost a few dollars more than other forms of mass transit, but you can think of the difference as an inexpensive form of mental health care.

    Bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, through streets lined with brownstones and over to the Red Hook ball fields. Stuff yourself on empanadas and pupusas. Too tired to bike all the way home? Stop at Fairway for a limeade, then catch the Ikea ferry to Lower Manhattan, where a half-dozen subways can whisk you wherever. That’s a very good day.

    If a few hundred thousand more New Yorkers could commute to work with the sun on their faces and the wind in their hair, we might be so much less stressed that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves. We might be Seattle, for Pete’s sake. Maybe that’s why New York doesn’t have more ferries.

  4. #94
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    Williamsburg's Water Taxi Outlook Finally Less Depressing

    August 17, 2010, by Sara

    The approach of fall often means another round of ferry woes, usually emanating from distraught South Williamsburg residents feeling isolated by cutbacks to ferry service at Schaefer Landing. But this year may be different. The Post reports that the city has issued a request for proposals for a Williamsburg ferry landing, for a pilot program to start next spring. The ferry would swing through Greenpoint as well. Also possibly joining the program: Astoria, Roosevelt Island, and Coney Island, along with 20th, 75th, 90th, and 125th streets on the East River. Brooklyn365 notes that the route sounds a little more like the G train than the L, but either way: is this the end of Williamsburg's water taxi woes, or will it just make South Williamsburg's luxury development dwellers feel yet more neglected?

    City plans ferry service to Williamsburg [NYP]
    The 'G Ferry' coming to North Brooklyn in 2011 [Brooklyn365]

  5. #95


    Ferries to Ply East River Far More Regularly Soon


    Published: February 1, 2011

    For all their dominance on Staten Island, ferries have long struggled to muscle their way into the city’s mass transit mainstream. Experiments in Queens and Brooklyn have been held back by infrequent service, outsize operating costs and low ridership.

    The New York Times

    But the city, unfazed by past failures, is now embarking on a more ambitious plan: a year-round ferry network that will provide all-day service in the East River, starting in June.

    Under the plan, to be announced on Wednesday, ferries will travel along a seven-stop route that stretches from Long Island City, Queens, to the Fulton Ferry landing by the Brooklyn Bridge, and includes Manhattan terminals at Pier 11 in the financial district and East 34th Street. During peak hours, boats will arrive at each stop every 20 minutes and travel in both directions.

    The service is an attempt by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council to create a robust and viable mass transit alternative for a growing waterfront population that has struggled with clogged subway lines and bus routes that have been truncated or eliminated altogether.

    “If we want every part of Brooklyn, every part of Queens, to be as attractive to businesses and residents as Midtown Manhattan is,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, “we have to make it as easy as possible to get to and from in an orderly, affordable fashion. That is what ferries can do.”

    The program comes with $9 million in guaranteed city money and a commitment to maintain the service for three years. The board of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which will oversee the service, is expected to award a contract to BillyBey, a division of New York Waterway, in a vote on Wednesday.

    There is an existing East River ferry service, run by New York Water Taxi, but it makes only a handful of runs each day, during the morning and afternoon rush.

    The new network will offer two additional stops in Brooklyn, at India Street in Greenpoint and at North Sixth Street in Williamsburg, and the boats will travel far more frequently, running from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. In the summer, ferries will also stop at a pier near Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and, on Fridays, make a run to Governors Island.

    A spokeswoman for New York Water Taxi, which had also bid for the contract, said the company had not decided whether it would continue its current service along the route.

    City officials said they were hopeful that the expanded route — and subsidized fares, as low as $3 a ride — would foster a commuting culture, in which waterfront residents integrate the ferries into their daily routines. The boats are to arrive at each stop every 20 minutes during the morning and afternoon rush times, and every half-hour at off-peak hours in the summer. In the winter, the off-peak frequency would be reduced to every hour.

    “Consistent and dependable service will be a magnet for potential users,” Robert K. Steel, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, said in an interview in the fall.

    “Development has occurred along this corridor. You’ve got more people who would potentially find the service attractive.”

    Passengers will pay $3 or $5.50 a ride; the route has two price zones, with the northern part of Williamsburg as the dividing line.

    Bicycles will be allowed onboard, and at rush hours, a free bus service will pick up passengers at the 34th Street pier and make stops along the Midtown office corridor.

    “It’s an opportunity for anybody who lives in the area on an overcrowded bus, or an overcrowded subway line,” Ms. Quinn said. “It isn’t just for waterfront dwellers; it’s for people in a radius around the waterfront.”

  6. #96


    Good. Good if they got even more on the west side too. Especially since the ARC tunnel was cancelled.

  7. #97
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    Suggestion to Mods: possibly combine this thread with this one.

    I'm really surprised New Yorkers don't jump at the chance to ride on a ferry. Shame about the comparatively prohibitive costs. Is that the only reason they don't?

    All aboard! Golden wants city to fund southern Brooklyn ferry service

    By Daniel Bush | Brooklyn Daily

    State Sen. Marty Golden is backing Borough President Marty Markowitz’s pie-in-the-sky plan to bring ferry service to Southern Brooklyn — and is demanding that the city foot the bill.
    Golden (R–Bay Ridge) said the proposal to launch ferry routes from Manhattan to Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Canarsie won’t set sail until the city agrees to fund the project.

    “The idea works but the investment has to be there on the city’s end,” said Golden. “If the city’s trying to find a way not to subsidize the system, it’s not going to happen.”
    The lawmaker asked New York Waterway — the East River ferry service that currently runs boats to Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Downtown — to crunch some numbers and figure out how much it would cost to expand their routes to southern Brooklyn.

    But the city has already said no: a 2011 Economic Development Corporation ferry service report found that ridership in southern Brooklyn wouldn’t be high enough to justify spending the money needed to bring waterborne transportation there.

    Yet that didn’t stop Borough President Markowitz from floating the proposal in his State of the Borough address.

    “[Southern Brooklyn] has it all except for one thing — a ferry,” Markowitz said.

    New York Waterway opened its Brooklyn ferry routes after the city Economic Development Corporation agreed to spend $9.3 million over three years to help pay for the service.

    The 100-person ferries run every 20 minutes and cost $4 a ride, or $140 for a monthly pass — much more than the $2.25 single ride and $104 unlimited monthly ride offered by the MTA.

    An Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman said the Williamsburg ferry venture has to be profitable before any new routes are added.

    “We’re certainly open to expansion — it’s just a question of funding,” spokeswoman Jen Friedberg said
    A spokesman for New York Waterway touted the company’s East River Ferry service, but declined to comment on the possibility of expanding to southern Brooklyn.

    Yet ferry advocates hope that Markowitz and Golden will resurrect a plan that’s been dead in the water for years.

    “If you build it they will [ride],” Bay Ridge civic leader Peter Killen said. “I’m all for the city spending money to enhance [transit service].” Ferries shuttled commuters from the financial district to the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge for years, but the city suspended the route in the early 1990s, when the pier was renovated. The city later opened a ferry route to a pier on 58th Street in Sunset Park, but shut the ferry down in less than a year — citing a lack of ridership.

  8. #98


    Threads merged.

  9. #99
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    ^ Thanks, Zippy.

    Is that the only reason they don't?
    Apparently not, in winter at least.

    Ferries Hit by Winter Chill


    Officials who launched the city's East River Ferry service last summer say they always expected ridership to dip in winter, as tourists dwindled and chilly temperatures made a $4 commute across open water less appealing to locals.

    [Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal]

    And it dipped significantly. Average daily ridership on the ferry fell by nearly 50% from its June launch to December, according to the most recent figures available from Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    At year-end, the service averaged about 1,500 one-way rides per weekday along the ferry route, which runs between Pier 11 at Wall Street and 34th street, making stops along the shores of Brooklyn and Queens. Passengers on other New York-area private ferries and water taxis also drop in the winter, some by as much as one-third or more.

    Seven months into the ferry's planned three-year trial run, overall ridership has far outpaced the city's projections. But while the sharp seasonal decline reflects how popular the ferry was with tourists and weekend travelers, it also suggests the service is still struggling to catch on with regular commuters.

    Unlike other local ferries that are integral parts of the commuter network from New Jersey and Rockland County into the city, the East River operation is still serving relatively small numbers of weekday commuters.

    Also unlike the others, the East River service depends on a $3.1 million annual city subsidy. By the end of the pilot project, officials will have to decide if ridership justifies making it a permanent amenity for the fast-developing Brooklyn shore.

    Staff from the New York City Economic Development Corp., which hired the private carrier New York Waterway to provide the ferry service, say it has been a success.

    Offsetting the decline in ridership is the benefit the ferry offers to residents, particularly in North Brooklyn, where it provides an alternative to the overcrowded L train into Manhattan, and a boon for developers hoping to entice new residents to neighborhoods along the East River.

    Among the surest signals of the ferry's worth, said David Hopkins, a vice president in the EDC's maritime department, are those from businesses and developers along the shoreline, in industrial neighborhoods of North Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City, including some areas which the city rezoned in 2005 to promote residential development.

    On a recent afternoon, Mr. Hopkins gestured from the open-air passenger deck of a ferry at the new pier and esplanade at India Street in Greenpoint, constructed by a developer hoping to build a 40-story residential tower on an adjoining plot of land.

    "He spent several million dollars and does not yet have approval to build his buildings," Mr. Hopkins said, referring to Jonathan Bernstein, the managing partner of developer Stiles Partners. Stiles received transferable building rights from its development of the piers, which will be used to win approval for the residential development, a project that has generated firm opposition from some neighbors.

    Mr. Bernstein said in an interview that the ferry could boost foot traffic on the streets around his planned building and offer an alternative route to Manhattan. "It's extremely beneficial for the city," he said.

    Some community leaders who support the ferry are pushing for change, especially on the all-important question of price. At $4 per ride, the East River Ferry is more expensive than the $2.25 base fare of MTA subways and buses, though cheaper than the MTA's new $5.50 express bus service.

    For a daily commuter who already shells out $104 to buy a monthly MetroCard, the $140 monthly rate for the ferry would more than double the cost of getting to work, said Lincoln Restler, a Democratic district leader whose territory includes the Williamsburg and Greenpoint shore, and who has advocated for better transit connections with Manhattan.

    To Mr. Restler, the eventual resolution of the ferry's price-point problem and its wintertime ridership drop-off is simple: merge it into the MTA, reducing the price for commuters and encouraging its use as a daily utility, not just a fair-weather option for days when the L train is packed or friends are in town.

    "Ultimately, the rub here is the price point," Mr. Restler said in a recent interview.

    Part of the challenge, midway through a largely successful first year, is reinforcing that the ferry is here to stay, said Roland Lewis, the president and CEO of the nonprofit Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.

    "There is a natural rhythm," Mr. Lewis said, referring to the wintertime decline in riders. Riders will be less likely to abandon the ferry once more substantial shelters are available to shield them from the elements, he said.

    "Longevity and predictability is so important," Mr. Lewis said. "We have to assure them that the ferry service will be there."
    But, he added, price will matter, too.

    "This cannot be viewed as a luxury for people living in high-rises," he said. "It has to be affordable to the average New Yorker."

    The MTA, meanwhile, faces significant financial burdens and is unlikely to embrace responsibility for a new service. An MTA spokesman declined to comment.

    These are the questions the EDC is measuring, said Mr. Hopkins, who noted that operators will conduct a survey of ferry riders this spring to determine how best to tailor the ferry to suit their needs.

    Even in December, the roughly 1,500 weekday riders who used the East River Ferry make it comparable in size to some other private ferry services that operate in the waters around New York City, according to the Port Authority, including those that run from Paulus Hook on the New Jersey shoreline to Pier 11 at Wall Street, and to the World Financial Center and West 39th Street landings. But those private carriers don't operate with the same subsidy provided to the East River Ferry.

    Those private carriers moved 28,000 passengers a day in 2011 between New York and commuter way points in New Jersey and Rockland County. (Those ferry numbers don't include the granddaddy of them all: the free, publicly funded Staten Island Ferry, which moves 65,000 passengers a day.)

    Total ridership since the ferry began revenue service in late June is over 550,000, according to the EDC. That included total weekend ridership of more than 46,500 people in July, and strong leisure use of the ferry through this year's mild September and October, according to public figures.

    Even in grayer, chillier weather, organizers say, a core group of commuters have flocked to the ferry boats, embracing the higher ticket price in exchange for a commute into Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn that is competitive on aesthetic terms—and even on timeliness--with the subway or the bus.

    Ridership is "dramatically higher than anticipated," said Steven Levin, a member of the City Council who represents Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Mr. Levin was unconcerned by the seasonal dip in ridership, which he said had been anticipated.

    "There were a lot of folks using it in the summer for pleasure, for leisure," Mr. Levin said. "Tourists were using it, and naturally that's going to dip in winter months."

    "That was actually something that a lot of folks had seen as likely to happen, and it's understandable. I think in future years, I'm hoping, we can entice people to ride it during the winter," he said.

    On a recent weekday morning, traffic was light but steady shortly after rush hour, as one of the three circulating ferries bounded uptown from Pier 11 to Brooklyn Bridge Park, under the bridge to two stops in Williamsburg before touching in Greenpoint and Long Island City. At the final stop, 34th St., under the elevated FDR Drive, a circulator bus waited to bring riders into Midtown.

    Emily Elert, a freelance science writer, and a companion boarded with their bikes in downtown Brooklyn. They had ridden from their home in Crown Heights, and were each headed to jobs in Midtown. The commute is slightly shorter by water, Ms. Elert said, and slightly longer for her boyfriend. They didn't commute by ferry every day, but had grown attached to it, save the days in the end of summer and early September when the ferry was crammed with other passengers.

    The couple were relieved, they said, that there was three years' of funding for the ferry in store, given the relatively empty cabin as the ferry approached 34th Street.

    "When it's empty like this, I'm always looking at the faces of the workers," Ms. Elert said, "to see if they look worried."

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    East River Ferry Pilot Program So Popular It Just Might Become Permanent

    By Kate Schaefer

    (Flickr user Dan Nguyen)

    The East River Ferry pilot program has been providing ferry service to waterfront neighborhoods in all five boroughs since June of 2011, and the experiment, set to run for three years, has already far exceeded the numbers projected for ridership: More than 715,000 riders have used it since the pilot began, almost double initial estimates. Now officials are deciding if, and how, to make it permanent and financially sustainable, given dramatic fluctuations in fuel costs.

    Although the big ridership numbers could be partly attributed to the End of Winter, it does seem like New Yorkers are generally excited about commuting via boat. And with the rapid development of NYC's waterfront into a bourgeois residential playland, more New Yorkers are making their homes closer to the city's 520 miles of waterways. Within a half mile of the landings in Brooklyn and Queens, over 6,000 units have been built in the last three or four years, and another 2000 or so are under construction and over 20,000 additional units are planned.

    Yesterday afternoon, City Council members James Vacca, Michael Nelson, and a few others held a joint hearing to learn more about the ferry. Advocates for making the ferry service permanent argue that if coordinated properly with the city's bike share program, the ferry could take more cars off the streets and ease the lives of many commuters—not just waterfront residents—who would appreciate the opportunity to get off of a crowded L train. Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, also wants commuters to have the option of paying for ferry service with their MetroCards.

    Currently, if you ride the East River Ferry, which is operated by BillyBey Ferry Company, your ride is $4. If you want an unlimited monthly pass, it will cost you $140 in addition to any MetroCard fees. For now, however, you can buy tickets using credit card or cash at automated kiosks at every ferry landing. And if you want to check out the East River Ferry for yourself, hop on at one of the nine stops it makes in Long Island City, Green Point, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Governors Island and along the east side of Manhattan. The ferries depart every 20 minutes during peak hours, every 30 minutes during weekday off peak hours and every 45 minutes on weekends.

  11. #101


    That would be great. I just took it for the first time to meet a friend in Greenpoint and it's kinda awesome. Fast and a great view of the city.

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    City to Launch Pilot Ferry Service to Randall's Island

    By Jill Colvin

    UPPER EAST SIDE — Move over Governor’s Island.

    The city has inked a new deal with New York Water Taxi to bring a pilot weekend ferry service to Randall’s Island this summer in hopes of attracting new visitors, DNAinfo New York has learned.

    The agreement comes less than a month before the grand re-opening on June 2 of the pedestrian bridge that connects the island to Manhattan, which has been closed for construction for two years.

    While the privately run New York Water Taxi has long provided ferry service to the island for special events, like Cirque Du Soleil performances and the Frieze Art Fair, this will be the first experiment with regular off-peak weekend service, parks staffers said.

    City Park Administrator Aimee Boden said she hoped the service will encourage people who live in the neighborhood to finally discover the island, just a five-minute ride from the Upper East Side.

    "I really hope it will help to bring them to the island to experience it firsthand," said Boden, who said the trial will help determine whether there is enough interest and traffic for a permanent ferry service to Randall's Island, which is lined with bike paths, sports fields and a network of pedestrian walkways that skirt the water’s edge.

    “It’s remarkable. It’s like nowhere else,” raved Boden, adding that the city will be consulting with local residents and area community boards to determine exactly which weekends the service will run.

    While details are still being finalized, she said the new ferry will likely leave from the East 90th Street pier, near Carl Schurz Park. Special-event service with continue to operate from Midtown’s busy East 35th Street pier, she said.

    Fares are still being negotiated, but the company's service to IKEA costs $5 on weekdays and is free on the weekends.

    According to a notice in the City Record, New York Water Taxi paid the city $136,000 for the six-year contract for the special events and trial service.

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    Pleased by Ridership, City Looks for Bids to Bolster East River Ferry Success


    Uli Seit for The New York Times

    The New York City Economic Development Corporation intends on Thursday to start seeking bids from ferry operators interested in running the service and possibly expanding its operations beyond the seven landings it regularly makes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The city has been subsidizing the service as a pilot project since June 2011, at a cost of about $3 million per year. But ridership has easily exceeded projections, leading city officials to believe that they may be able to reduce the subsidy significantly.

    Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the development corporation, said the city had anticipated 1.3 million passengers during the three-year pilot, but the actual ridership had already surpassed 1.6 million. “As it turns out, our expectations weren’t matched; in reality, they were exceeded,” Mr. Pinsky said.

    The ferry service, which charges $4 for a one-way ticket, has been popular with tourists and weekend shoppers. But a vast majority of the riders (85 percent) are city residents, and at least two-thirds use the ferries to commute to work, according to surveys conducted for the city.

    Though reducing the subsidy could cause operators to demand higher fares, Christine C. Quinn, the speaker of the City Council, said she did not want to see that happen. She said she hoped that there would not be a fare increase commensurate with the one now pending for the subway system. A single-ride subway fare will go up about 11 percent, to $2.50 from $2.25.

    “I think if the ferry fare goes higher, we lose ridership,” said Ms. Quinn, who has been one of the biggest champions of the East River service. She said in a phone interview on Wednesday that it was important to consider that effect while trying to build a “new type of transportation system” that is both environmentally friendly and affordable.

    “New Yorkers are ready for ferry service as an integrated part of their commute, not just as a lark when the weather’s nice,” Ms. Quinn said.

    Mr. Pinsky said the request for proposals would seek to determine how long a contract ferry operators would be willing to enter into, how much of a subsidy they would demand and whether they would expand the service. Ms. Quinn often speaks of her goal of establishing “five-borough ferry service,” but a new East River contract is unlikely to bring the idea to fruition.

    Staten Island, of course, already has its own ferry link to Manhattan. But there is no Manhattan boat service to and from the Bronx, and even Ms. Quinn admits that there is no viable plan for including the borough yet.

    Still, she is holding on to the dream: “I love a five-borough ferry,” she said.

  14. #104
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002



    East River Ferry Service to Stay Afloat Through 2019

    By Jeanmarie Evelly

    HUNTERS POINT — The East River Ferry, which chauffeurs residents from the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront to Manhattan, will keep running until at least 2019, city officials said.

    Originally started as a three-year pilot project, the city's Economic Development Corporation is looking for an operator to run the popular ferry service for five more years, noting that more than 1.6 million passengers have ridden the ferry since it launched in June 2011.

    "The East River Ferry has quickly become an integral piece of the city’s transportation network, far surpassing ridership projections for its initial three-year pilot service," EDC president Seth Pinsky said in a statement, adding that the ferry is a "catalyst for economic development in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.”

    The East River Ferry shuttles riders from Long Island City and Brooklyn to Midtown and lower Manhattan for $4 one-way, or $140 for an unlimited monthly pass.

    "I go to the riverside and hop on the ferry, and in 5 to 10 minutes, you're there," said Wendy Khan, 35, who said she takes the boat about five days a week to get from her home in Long Island City to Midtown.

    The water route is preferable to some Queens residents who've been plagued by ongoing service disruptions on the 7 train this year.

    "It's much better — you're outside, and you have a nice view," Khan said.

    The EDC will be accepting applications from potential operators until March 1, according to a request for proposals issued last week. The new operator would get a contract to run the service for five years. The current contract is with BillyBey Ferry Co. and expires in June of 2014. NY Waterway currently operates the route for BillyBey.

    In a statement, the EDC said it is looking for contractors that can maintain the ferry's current level of service "while significantly reducing or eliminating the need for public operating assistance." The city now spends $3 million a year to subsidize the route.

    The EDC said potential applicants also have the opportunity to expand the service, either by adding more service hours or more pickup locations.

    Launched in 2011, the East River Ferry stops at seven spots, plus Governors Island during the summer months. City officials said ridership during the summer of 2012 increased by nearly 40 percent compared to the summer before. The ferry celebrated its millionth customer in July.

    The ferry was also a vital link in getting residents to work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy this fall, elected officials said, reopening in the days after the storm while much of the city's subway lines were still crippled.

    Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said keeping the ferry in operation is important, as the city looks for new ways to expand its transportation network, which proved its vulnerability during the storm.

    “By enhancing the East River Ferry service our city is only building upon an increasingly popular mode of alternative transportation New Yorkers have come to embrace — and love,” he said in a statement.

  15. #105
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    New York City


    The ferry is nice if you live close to the water, otherwise it's pretty inconvenient to get to for regular travel

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