A Ferry Merry Day In May!
“Rockaway residents have some of the longest commute times in the city,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We promised we’d bring them our new NYC Ferry service first, and today we’re delivering on that promise. Best of all, our first NYC Ferry will set sail May 1, a full month ahead of schedule.”
Also, as The Wave first reported on April 5, the city has also given folks on the peninsula something else they had been asking for: a 5:30 a.m. run to New York City.
“Our community is very appreciative of the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and the EDC in bringing ferry service to the Rockaways,” said Dolores Orr, chairperson of Community Board 14. “In particular we are grateful that our concerns were heard and the first ferry will depart Rockaway at 5:30 a.m. enabling our trades workers and city employees to arrive in Manhattan for their 7:00 a.m. shifts. The ferry beginning on May 1, a month earlier than scheduled, will give all New Yorkers the opportunity to experience the new ferry service.”
The Rockaway run to NYC will first stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, then end at Pier 11 at Wall Street.
This puts NYC Ferry a full month ahead of schedule, with the system having initially been projected to launch in June of 2017.
The May 1 start date also gives everyone a chance to acclimate to having a real ferry back, just in time for Memorial Day.
“As co-chairs of CB 14’s Trans- portation Committee, we are very pleased and excited that the Rock- away ferry service will be starting ahead of schedule,” said Danny Ruscillo and Marty Ingram. “This is a form of transportation which has always been needed, we are sure many will utilize this delightful form of transportation.”
Amid the joy for the ferry’s triumphant return, there is concern.
During a meeting with the Queens Borough President on Monday, April 3, the New York Economic Develop- ment Corporation (NYCEDC) suggested that a fee – sources say it will be $8 — will be implemented for those who decide to park and ride. While there is no specific amount set for the cost of parking to ride the ferry, QBP Melinda Katz asked the members of the EDC to consider a discount for riders on the peninsula.
“We have suggested to the city that for those who live in the Rockaways, it may be hard to get to the ferry,” said Katz. “Parking should be included or there should be some kind of discount for Far Rockaway riders.”
For those who do not drive, there will be free shuttle bus service for the peninsula from Beach 31st Street to Beach 169th Street. The designated stops for these shuttles have yet to be finalized.
The brand new boats will hold 149 passengers and will be ADA and local law compliant, allowing those with wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers to come on board.
Katz also urged the members of the EDC to consider having an extra boat on hand during summer weekends in Rockaway, due to the possibility of more tourists and visitors wanting to enjoy the warm weather.
“The Rockaways relies on the summer budget to keep tourists coming in,” said Katz. “If the beach is very crowded, a second vessel might be necessary.”
While the final phases of the ferry service are still ongoing, EDC members have promised the board that they will continue to keep the communities updated on anything that is decided on.
“We have an open door policy and are trying to keep everyone in the community affected up to date as much as possible,” said James Wong, EDC’s vice president of Ports and Transportation.
The city did listen to many of the peninsula’s concerns. In addition to the earlier city run, the shuttle bus was extended further east and west to make sure it was accessible to more people. Paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities and passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee.
“A lot of the time people dread their morning commute,” said Cameron Clark, senior vice president of Citywide Ferry by Hornblower. “Hopefully, [now] people will be looking forward to their commute.”
Construction is currently underway on a homeport at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a 56,000-square-foot maintenance and storage facility that will include berthing space for 25 boats, supplies and parts and utilities, including a 40,000-gallon diesel fueling system. It will provide routine maintenance including exterior and interior cleaning, restocking of food and beverage items, fueling and basic repairs. It will be fully outfitted by early 2018, enabling passenger service to an additional stop on the East River route between South Williams- burg and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
NYC Ferry is also hiring for jobs that include captains and deckhands. Jobseekers can apply through the City Department of Small Business Services, WorkForce1 Centers, at ferry.nyc, or through the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Employment Center.
NYC Ferry will ultimately provide 200 jobs, all of which will pay the City’s Living Wage or higher and provide comprehensive benefits.