Bring us the boats: Pols and locals rally for ferry service to Coney Island and Canarsie

Bring us the boats: Pols and locals rally for ferry service to Coney Island and Canarsie
Fighting for a ferry: Coney Island and Canarsie residents are demanding a ferry service in their nabes.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They’ve got all hands on deck!

An armada of local pols stood with Coney Island and Canarsie residents on the steps of City Hall on Aug. 8 to demand that Mayor DeBlasio act quickly to bring the city-wide ferry service to their seaside neighborhoods. The recently launched water-borne transit option celebrated its 1-millionth rider last month, but several outer-borough, transit-starved neighborhoods have been left behind in its wake, and it’s high time they get the same opportunities, said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Coney Island).

“These are wonderful communities, but communities that have been deprived of legitimate mass transportation options in terms of the day-to-day commute,” said Jeffries. “The people of Coney Island and Canarsie work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules, and contribute to the vitality and well being of this city — they deserve a transportation system that will allow them to have a reasonable commute to and from work, to and from school, to and from Manhattan.”

Mayor DeBlasio promised a roomful of Canarsie residents last September that a ferry to their neighborhood was “on the table,” but since then, he’s taken no steps to make it happen — but locals aren’t content to wait, they’ve started petitions demanding Hizzoner seriously look into the idea, and they rallied on the steps of his office this week.

The need for alternative transportation options to subways and buses in the wake of the unfolding Metropolitan Transportation Authority crisis is now even more dire, said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). It often takes Coney Islanders who live in the west end as much as two to three hours to get into Manhattan, and the crucial L train will soon stop short of shuttling Canarsie straphangers across the East River.

“It is not acceptable for residents of our city to commute over two hours. The lack of a ferry system and the lack of additional transportation options are holding back neighborhoods like Coney Island and Canarsie,” he said. “We’re calling upon the Mayor and his administration to focus on solutions that are in the city control. We have the resources — we have the capacity to get this done.”

Canarsie was omitted from the city’s 2013 ferry feasibility study, which did include Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, and Coney Island, though none was considered a viable option at the time.

The current South Brooklyn ferry route sails from Bay Ridge to Sunset Park, Red Hook (with a weekend detour to Governors Island), Brooklyn Heights, and Dumbo before heading to Manhattan, and the Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the service, is continuing its rollout of other routes later this month and next summer — so advocates will have to wait until that’s complete to see any action in their neighborhoods, said a spokeswoman for City Hall.

“There are six confirmed routes on the new NYC Ferry system, which will have all launched by 2018,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie. “While those lines do not have stops in Coney Island or Canarsie, we look forward to engaging with communities to determine whether additional ferry stops and routes are viable once our initial expansion is complete.”

A handful of advocacy groups, including the Waterfront Alliance, Canarsie Improvement Association, and Coney Islanders 4 Ferry, along with state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–Canarsie), state Sen. Diane Savino (D–Coney Island), Assemblywoman Pam Harris (D–Coney Island), and Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie) also joined the rally.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

More from Around New York