BY YVETTE BROWN
The New York City Economic Development Corporation is attempting to give New York City residents an easier way to commute, especially if one lives far from train stations or bus stops.
Earlier this year, the NYCEDC announced a Request for Proposals for ferry operators, transit service providers or other qualified firms to help operate a citywide ferry system. This will allow for the existing East River routes to be knitted together with new landings and services throughout the five boroughs.
The first three routes, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, are set to launch in 2017, which will include Astoria, South Brooklyn and the Roackaways, with an additional two set to launch in 2018, which will include Soundview and the Lower East Side. This comes after a $55 million capital commitment from the City for infrastructure upgrades to help support the service. Tickets for the service will be $2.75 per ride, the same as bus or subway rides.
“Expanding ferry service Citywide is a major step in our efforts to create a modern and equitable economy that is accessible for all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “This service will not only provide a resilient transportation option to people across the City, but it will also connect more New Yorkers to our waterfront, driving the creation of jobs and housing by linking our City’s emerging innovation centers. I look forward to a robust response to this RFP, and am excited by the opportunity this ferry system provides the City.”
Two new stops will be added in Western Queens, including a second in Long Island City and another in Hallets Cove to serve Astoria.
“The expansion of citywide ferry service into Long Island City is a welcome proposal that will help alleviate some transportation issues Western Queens riders currently face with our ailing transit system,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside). “As we work to remedy train service for riders, expanding ferry service further along the East River for Queens residents will help enhance our City transportation network and provide commuters with an alternative service that is quick and reliable.”
Once the citywide ferry service is fully operated in 2018, the six routes will allow for an estimated 4.6 million trips per year, the city says. During this time, the NYCEDC is reaching out to the community to allow for comments, concerns and questions. Community Board 1 has already received a presentation of what the service will include. The next steps include Ferry Operator(s) Selection during the Winter of 2015/2016, barge fabrication and installation during the Fall of 2015 until the Winter of 2017/2018, waterfront permitting during the Winter of 2015/2016, detailed landing design during the Spring of 2016, service testing during the Winter of 2016/2017 and Phase I – which includes new stops in Astoria and Long Island City -and II of the service launch will happen between the Spring of 2017 and the Spring of 2018. EDC has been eyeing Gantry State Park or the Eleventh Street Basin at the foot of Centre Boulevard for a second LIC stop.
“Our city’s waterfront is our next frontier and a commitment to a citywide ferry service affirms that,” said Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “Making an additional mode of public transportation available at the same price as a subway ride will increase transit equity for all. We are a city surrounded by water and we need to take advantage of the water’s resources, especially as we work to reach our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.”