Southern Brooklynites, Staten Islanders call for fast ferry between two boroughs

Activists rallied for a fast ferry service connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Southern Brooklynites and Staten Islanders have at least one thing in common — they both want a fast ferry!

“Staten Island’s fast ferry service is a crucial step in reducing our reliance on cars and supporting a 21st Century Transportation future,” said Rose Uscianowski, Transportation Alternatives’ Staten Island and southern Brooklyn organizer. “Now it’s time to honor Staten Island’s historic relationship with South Brooklyn by expanding South Ferry service between Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

The non-profit organization Transportation Alternatives spearheaded a renewed call for fast ferry service at a press conference last week, where they were joined by local activist groups, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, and even some Staten Islanders who made the trip to Bay Ridge to show their support.

Proponents of the idea say linking the two outer boroughs would ease congestion on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and lessen the burden on residents who either have to take a trip into Manhattan for public transit, or dish out $20 in tolls when traveling both ways on the bridge.

“We need to organize our city so that public transit is first and foremost, right now we don’t see that as being the case especially between the outer boroughs, between Staten Island and Brooklyn,” said Daniel Loud, president of the Bay Ridge Environmental Group, “so this ferry would be a huge step in improving that.” 

The ralliers spoke of the numerous benefits a new ferry between the St. George ferry terminal in Staten Island and the Bay Ridge ferry terminal at American Veterans Memorial Pier would bring both communities — such as more foot traffic for small businesses, access to jobs, reduced vehicular travel and reduced travel time. It would also help combat climate change, activists say, by providing an option besides car travel between the two boroughs. 

“I live right there. if it was warmer and once we get a little less pollution, I might try swimming it because that on many days is better than taking the Verrazzano,” said Staten Islander Justin Wood. “I would love to visit you all more often, I’d love for our economies to be connected, I’d love to see us developing the types of renewable energy and the resiliency jobs that we need on our waterfront.”

Gounardes said there are plenty of reasons why a Staten Island to Brooklyn ferry should exist, pointing out that there used to be one connecting the two outer boroughs for decades before the city built the Verrazzano. 

“This is about transit mobility, pick the reason this makes sense, and we should absolutely have ferry service, there used to be a ferry that is like how this whole connection started 100 years ago,” he said. “We should not have to rely just on that one bridge, which you can’t even get over unless you’re in a vehicle that will destroy the planet.” 

He added that he will advocate for the ferry expansion however he can on the state level of government. 

Wood launched a petition that has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures in support of a Staten Island-Brooklyn Ferry with many Staten Island signers arguing their need for more transportation options than just one highway to get into Brooklyn and the increased job opportunities they would have access to. 

“It would increase job opportunities and social and cultural visiting between the two boroughs. Not to mention less need for a car all the time, a greener alternative,” one petitioner wrote.