New ferries on the horizon for Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights

Farewell to the ferry
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

New ferry service is tying up in Brooklyn.

The city is adding five stops to the Brooklyn waterfront as part of a citywide ferry expansion that is set to start in 2017, Mayor DeBlasio announced during his State of the City address on Tuesday. The $55-million network is meant to add an affordable option for commuters who don’t drive, DeBlasio said.

“New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses,” he said.

The Brooklyn leg of the new route is supposed to get new docks in Bay Ridge, at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, in Red Hook, and two in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at Atlantic Avenue and at Fulton Ferry Landing. The string of stops is supposed to then be followed by a lengthy voyage to Wall Street on the distant island of Manhattan.

Sending ferries to 69th Street Pier will especially help Bay Ridge residents, who are under-served by public transportation, a resident who commutes daily to Manhattan said.

“We’re typically seen as a suburban neighborhood, but we’re not, and I think it shouldn’t be that difficult to get to Manhattan,” Karen Hennigan said.

A Rockaway, Queens route is also set to stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal before heading to Manhattan, in a reprise of the one that ran for 13 months following Hurricane Sandy while transit workers repaired flood-damaged R train tunnels.

A Queens resident who works in Bay Ridge said the floating people-mover will be a boon for commuters and far-flung parts of the city.

“Any services linking the Rockaways with Manhattan and Brooklyn would be great, not just for my needs but because we haven’t really recovered from Sandy, and our neighborhood relies on an influx of tourism in the summers,” John Rochford said.

Rochford took the temporary ferry and said it more than cut his trip time in half, from two hours one-way to 45 minutes one-way.

The new service is supposed to complement the existing East River Ferry, which has a stop at Fulton Ferry Landing and runs to Williamsburg and Greenpoint. It costs $4 to $6 for a one-way trip.

A proposed future route, which does not have a date attached to it, could run from Coney Island to bucolic Staten Island, then to Wall Street.

A Coney Island tour guide said the proposed ferry to Coney Island Creek would be good for residents who commute, but dumping tourists in an out-of-the-way park wouldn’t provide the same economic benefits that a ride to Steeplechase Pier could proffer.

“You arrive to Kaiser Park and you’re a tourist — where do you go from there?” said Michael Quinn. “It’s all residential. It’s better than not having anything, but as far as economics, Steeplechase Pier is the better location.”

State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who signed on to a letter with a number of other elected officials last October asking for increased ferry service to Brooklyn Bridge Park, praised the new plan in goofball terms.

“For lots of New Yorkers who live in fast growing waterfront communities without enough transit options, new service is very — or ferry! good news,” he said in a statement.

He added that the ferries will be a good backup in case of another devastating natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy.

“New service will also provide another option when existing networks are compromised,” he said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation oversees the taxpayer-subsidized private operators of existing ferries, and would continue in that role with the new routes. The city has not yet identified the new operator or operators.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Making moves: This map shows the route of the mayor’s proposed new ferry network. It is set to launch in 2017.
Mayor’s Office