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New Details Revealed For NYC Ferry's Expansion To All Five Boroughs

Mayor de Blasio at Clason Point Park after the Soundview route was launched in 2018
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Mayor de Blasio at Clason Point Park after the Soundview route was launched in 2018 NYC Mayor's Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially unveiled plans for the latest expansion of the NYC Ferry system, which will now offer service to parts of all five boroughs, including a long-awaited stop at Coney Island (though not until 2021).

The plan was teased in his State of the City address last week, and features ferry routes between Staten Island and Manhattan's West Side, as well as Coney Island and Lower Manhattan, plus new stops for routes in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Here are the details:

Launch of the St. George Route in 2020: The new route will run from St. George to Battery Park City/Vesey St., ending at Midtown West (W. 39th St. /Pier 79). Anticipated total run time is ~35 minutes.

Launch of the Coney Island Route in 2021: The Coney Island route will launch in 2021, with a stop in Bay Ridge, before ending at Wall St. /Pier 11, an anticipated total run time of ~35 minutes from start to finish. The route is estimated to serve approximately four thousand NYCHA residents that live within a half-mile radius of the landing.

Extension of the Soundview Route in 2021: A new landing in Throggs Neck/Ferry Point Park will be added to the Soundview route. Launched in August 2018, the Soundview route connects residents and workers in the East Bronx with stops on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (E. 90th St.), Midtown East/E. 34th St. and Wall St./Pier 11. Riders boarding at the new Throggs Neck/Ferry Point Park ferry stop are able to transfer for free to the East River, Rockaway, Astoria, and South Brooklyn routes at East 34th St. and Wall St. /Pier 11. The extended route will take approximately ~51 minutes from start to finish.

Modification of the South Brooklyn Route in 2021: The South Brooklyn Route will be reconfigured to start from Sunset Park/Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) instead of Bay Ridge, which will be added to the new Coney Island Route and will no longer stop at DUMBO/BBP1. Alternatively, DUMBO/BBP1 will only be accessible via the East River Route. Starting in 2021, the new estimated run time will be ~34 minutes from start to finish. In addition to current route reconfiguration, future modifications may occur to expand service to emerging job clusters.

Modification of the Astoria Route in 2019 to include the Brooklyn Navy Yard: This May, a stop will be added at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on the Astoria Route. The Navy Yard, which currently serves as NYC Ferry’s homeport, is undergoing a historic expansion of the campus and is expected to more than double its workforce by 2020. The Navy Yard ferry stop also offers a new commuting option for the many surrounding neighborhoods along the stretch of waterfront, including over 14,000 NYCHA residents. Starting this May, the Astoria Route will take ~45 minutes from start to finish.

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The new routes

The city estimates that after these routes and stops are added, the system will be able to serve 11 million riders each year by 2023, which is 2 million more than estimates from last year. Though that might sounds like a lot, compared to the numbers that the subway system serves, it's a drop in the ocean: annual subway ridership in 2017 was 1.727 billion riders. NYC Ferry remains heavily subsidized by the city; in October, it was reported that it costs taxpayers about $9 per ferry rider. Some transit advocates say that money would be better spent improving subway and bus service for residents who don't live near the waterfront, where higher-income New Yorkers tend to dwell.

Nevertheless, the mayor's ferry expansion announcement includes many laudatory statements from other elected officials, including new House Democratic Caucus Chair, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who said, "For years, south Brooklyn residents have suffered with limited and congested transportation options. Ferry service on the Coney Island peninsula will help address this important quality of life issue and make it easier for commuters to get to work and for others to experience iconic Coney Island locations." New Congressman Max Rose called this a "first step" and vowed that "the ultimate goal for this ferry route must be to shorten the tortuous commute that Staten Islanders on the South Shore endure."

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