Mayor Bloomberg may make Ridge commuters ferry happy

Mayor Bloomberg may make Ridge commuters ferry happy
Tom Fox

Mayor Bloomberg asked ferry companies on Tuesday to offer year-round service between Manhattan and the Rockaways — and maybe, just maybe, create a new stop in Bay Ridge.

Ferry service to Queens would fill a gap in the region’s public transportation network, Bloomberg said, and reduce automobile traffic — something Brooklyn Councilmembers have been barking about for years.

Red Hook–based New York Water Taxi shuttles passengers to Manhattan daily from the pier on 58th Street. A second ferry slip on the 69th Street pier would make even more sense, said Eric Kuo, a spokesman for Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).

“It would clearly be a very attractive alternative to driving,” Kuo said.

In 2004, Gentile and Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) asked Bloomberg to build a $500,000 ferry slip on the 69th Street pier. The pier is well-lit and near other public transportation, unlike the 58th Street pier, which is dark and comparatively gloomy, Kuo said.

But Bloomberg has sat on the matter, saying Tuesday that it was up to ferry operators to decide if they wanted to add Bay Ridge — or other Brooklyn stops — to their proposals to provide the Queens service.

Stacey Sherman, a spokeswoman for New York Water Taxi, said her company needed to take a closer look at what the city wants before making its proposal.

“The whole premise of New York Water Taxi is to reduce congestion. If the ridership is there, of course we’re interested,” Sharman said.

The company’s fleet of eight water taxis gets consistent commuter business from Brooklyn, she said, and, despite a slow start, a new Yonkers–Manhattan route started this month is increasingly popular.

Ferry operators have six weeks to respond to the city’s call for proposals.