Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Regular Ferry Service Coming to East River This Spring
Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - 11:55 AM
New Yorkers who commute between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens will have another transportation option this June. The city's Economic Development Corporation has awarded a contract that paves the way for all-day, year-round East River ferry service.
The ferries will be operated by the BillyBey Ferry Company, a division of New York Waterway. They'll run every 20 minutes in both directions and make seven stops between Long Island City and the Fulton Ferry Landing. Depending on distance, the trip will cost either $3 or $5.50.
Paul Goodman is the CEO of the BillyBey Ferry Company. He says he’s confident that the reliability of the service – coupled with the convenience—will help the ferries build a following.
“When you ride along the waterfront, there are lots of areas where we are simply going to be the more convenient option,” he said. “And with the assistance of the city, in terms of the subsidy they're providing, this is going to be priced very attractively as well.”
Julie Wood, a spokesperson for the EDC, said the ferries are targeting some of the city's fastest-growing areas.
"We envision this being a great option for people who live in neighborhoods like Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Long Island City that are emerging neighborhoods where there's been a lot of recent development and there's expected to be future growth," she said.
And Goodman hopes that the ferries will help the neighborhoods grow – which could then, of course, help his company.
“Access to ferries on the East River will enhance the development of the waterfront in Queens and Brooklyn,” he said, “and that in turn will enhance the prospects for the ferry business.”
Goodman said he envisions using three boats at the outset, and depending on the vessel, each will accommodate either 99 or 149 passengers. Bikes are welcome on board.
The city has tried East River ferries before, most recently with New York Water Taxi. But the recession, combined with a disagreement between the city and that company about the subsidy, has long hampered the service. Currently, according to their Web site, New York Water Taxi only offers five commuter trips a day — two in the morning and three in the afternoon.
For area residents who live or work close to the waterfront and are tired of hiking to the L train or getting stuck in car traffic — or just like the idea of being able to commute via boat -- the regularity of the new service is likely to be welcomed. And to sweeten the deal, the ferry company is also providing free bus service to pick up passengers at the 34th Street pier and take them along the midtown office corridor.