BY JON CRONIN
At one month ahead of schedule, the citywide ferry service that has now officially been named “NYC Ferry” will begin service on May 1 with the Rockaway Route and the existing East River Route.
The cost to ride the ferry will be $2.75—which is the same price for MTA subway rides—with free transfers to other ferry routes, Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week.
“Rockaway residents have some of the longest commute times in the city,” de Blasio said. “We promised we’d bring them our new NYC Ferry service first and we’re delivering on that promise. Best of all, our first NYC Ferry will set sail May 1, a full month ahead of schedule.”
The mayor’s office announced that 20 vessels would operate at 22 landings across the city and make approximately 4.6 million trips annually in the service’s six routes. The first of the ferries arrived at the city shipyard this week.
Joe Hartigan, a Rockaway resident who has been fighting for ferry service in the Rockaways for the past 23 years, said that he was excited to hear the announcement.
“I was thrilled,” he said, acknowledging that this would cut commutes for many people. “I’m interested to see what happens when there are more than 150 [people] on the dock.”
The ferries are expected to carry approximately 150 people at a time.
Hartigan said that he was thrilled that the first ferry departure in the Rockaways would be at 5:30 a.m.
“I always noticed a different look on the faces of the people getting off the ferry than off the subway,” he said.
De Blasio also announced that the South Brooklyn Route—with stops in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook and Brooklyn Bridge Park—would begin service June 1. The Astoria route would launch in August, and the Lower East Side and Soundview routes are expected to debut in 2018.
“It’s gonna be an economic boon to Rockaway,” noted Hartigan. “There are lots of millennials in lower Manhattan. They are gonna want to go to the beach for $2.75.”
His next advocacy will be to push for a dock at JFK airport.
“You can’t put people on the subway with all that luggage,” he said.
John Cori, co-founder of Friends of Rockaway Beach and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, said he believes that Hartigan is “the reason” for the ferry’s return to Rockaway.
“This whole ferry idea, Joe and I bang heads, but nobody has championed the ferry more than Joe,” he said. “Joe is the MVP quarterback. If you’re going to thank one person, it’s Joe Hartigan.”
Cori acknowledges that one ferry is approximately the size of a subway car, but is happy that it is in a central spot for the Rockway peninsula.
“I’ll be using it,” said Cori, who works near Pier 11 in Manhattan. “I’ll be on the 5:30 ferry. The ride is beautiful. People would do it just to ride it back in 2012.”