Regular passengers on the Sunset Park to Lower Manhattan ferry slammed New York Water Taxi for hastily announcing that it will suspend winter service on Jan. 31.
“I’m devastated — this is my way of travel,” said Mary Ann Lento, who has taken the ferry to her Manhattan job every day for nearly 20 years.
She said she doesn’t mind paying $54 for her weekly 10-trip ticket.
“I’m not a young person. This is a stress-free way of travel. You know it’s going to be there and it just works.”
One rider even said that maintaining ferry service was a matter of national security.
“On 9-11 and during the blackout, the only safe way to get people in and out of the city was by ferry,” said Denise Koster, who takes the ferry to work in Manhattan.
“When the subways are down, the ferries run,” she added.
The ferry will run again, but the seasonal suspension is necessary for the time being said New York Water Taxi President Tom Fox, who cited rising fuel costs, stagnant ridership, and insufficient public funding as factors in the decision to drop anchor for the season.
In interviews this week, riders mostly said that if the ferry is indeed not a viable form of transportation, the city needs to do more to encourage ridership.
Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and other community leaders held a protest at the 58th Street ferry landing on Thursday morning to demand that the city subsidize the ferry line, as it does other forms of mass transit.
In fact, this ferry hasn’t been underwritten by public money since the Federal Emergency Management Agency subsidized Sunset Park ferry service for two years after 9-11.
But by not subsidizing the ferry now, “the city has left the riders of this area out in the cold,” Gentile said.
“I am outraged that the city continues to treat ferry service as a proverbial ‘black sheep’ during the discussions of improved mass transportation services,” Gentile added.
The seasonal shutdown of ferry service from Sunset Park follows a similar move by New York Water Taxi to suspend winter service between north Brooklyn and Manhattan late last year.