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Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn And Officials Launch New East River Ferry Service

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and other officials today launched the new East River Ferry Service, a key component of the City’s comprehensive waterfront plan. The new service will provide year-round ferry transportation between East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, and DUMBO in Brooklyn, and, in the summer, to Brooklyn Bridge Park (Fridays only) and Governors Island (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only). The service will be operated by BillyBey Ferry Company under the NY Waterway brand. It is the largest private ferry operator in the country, and it currently transports nearly 30,000 riders daily in the New York harbor. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn took a ride on the inaugural ferry, boarding in North Williamsburg and disembarking at East 34th Street in Manhattan. They were joined by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Borough Presidents Marty Markowitz, Helen Marshall and Scott Stringer, Council Members Stephen Levin, Michael Nelson and James Van Bramer, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, BillyBey Ferry Company Chairman Bill Wachtel and President Paul Goodman, and Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance President Roland Lewis. 

“The comprehensive waterfront plan we launched two months ago addresses more than New York City’s hundreds of miles of waterfront, it also targets our waterways and how we can expand their use for transportation and recreation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Waterfront neighborhoods like DUMBO and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Long Island City and Hunter’s Point South in Queens continue to grow, and destinations like Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island continue to attract more visitors. The new ferry service will augment that growth and make it easier for New Yorkers to commute from and get to these residential neighborhoods and waterfront parks.”

“Our unparalleled urban waterways have contributed directly to the history and success of New York City,” said Speaker Quinn. “I am excited to see the new ferry service reconnecting New Yorkers and tourists alike to a new transportation option that invigorates and embraces a resource that truly makes our City great. By taking New Yorkers out of over-crowded trains and subways, this new service will change the way we move between the boroughs, reminding us that we can continue to grow and take advantage of all our City has to offer.”

The year-round ferry service began today and will be free of charge for all customers through June 24, 2011. The service will cost $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited all-day pass, and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass. Ferries will accommodate bikes on board for one dollar. Ticketing machines will be available at all commuter locations along with staffed ticket agents at some stops. 

Ferries will be in service from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM on weekdays, and 9:00 AM to 8:30 PM on weekends. During off-peak hours, the service will be operated every 30 minutes during the summer and every 60 minutes during the winter. During weekday rush hour, approximately 7:00 to 9:30 AM and 4:30 to 7:00 PM, ferries will operate every 20 minutes and commuters can connect to a free shuttle bus service at the East 34th Street ferry landing. The bus will meet each peak-hour ferry boat, and take passengers on a loop west on 35th Street to 6th Avenue, then north to 48th Street, then east to Lexington Avenue, then south to 34th Street and back to the ferry landing, making stops along the way.

“New York’s economy continues to add jobs, making it more important than ever that we continue to provide more commuting options,” Deputy Mayor Steel. “A critical component of Mayor Bloomberg’s waterfront agenda, this new ferry service will connect the East Side of Manhattan with rapidly-growing neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn like Long Island City, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and DUMBO, making it easier for thousands more New Yorkers to move throughout the City every day.” 

“Ferries are a natural fit for our city of islands. This expanded ferry service will be an important resource for commuters in some of New York’s fastest-growing communities,” said Congress Member Maloney. “Ferry service is environmentally-friendly, relieves congestion on our subways and roads, and provides increased access to our waterfront. I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for their leadership in delivering these much-needed improvements to our transportation network.”

“The East River Ferry Service is the next great concept for improving New York’s mass-transit and transportation systems,” said Congress Member Jerrold Nadler. “Harnessing New York’s rivers and embracing a proud local maritime tradition will usher New Yorkers into a more urbane, interconnected, and environmentally clean 21st century. I am proud to have helped secure $3.6 million toward this project, and I commend Speaker Quinn and the City for making it happen.”

“Ferry service in North Williamsburg will mean additional commuting options for New York residents, while drawing more visitors to Brooklyn,” said Congress Member Nydia M. Velázquez.

“Bravo to Mayor Bloomberg and his staff, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Speaker Christine Quinn and the Council, the EDC and everyone who played a role in bringing expanded ferry service from NY Waterway to Brooklyn and the outer boroughs of Manhattan and Queens,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “With stops in our flourishing neighborhoods of Greenpoint, North and South Williamsburg, DUMBO and Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue in the summer, Brooklyn is ‘ferry’ excited to welcome this new service, which is certain to bring economic development and tourism to our bustling waterfront.”

“Increased ferry service among the boroughs is the wave of the future,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “While encouraging daily commuters to use mass transit, we cannot expect more passengers to fit on overcrowded trains and buses. Long Island City has experienced a dramatic growth in housing in the past 20 years without a concurrent growth in transportation alternatives. The ferry service to Long Island City, in particular, is a very welcome, much needed and very appealing resource. My hope is that the success of these ferries will result in even greater use of our waterways as an option for travel. I thank NY Waterway and all our partners in government for today’s welcome announcement.”

“The inaugural voyage of the City’s new inter-borough ferry service marks the further interconnectedness of New York's spaciously dispersed communities,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “We use trains, buses, cars and bikes to travel the expanse of the five boroughs; now commuters and visitors can take advantage of our city's rivers. I commend Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for their stewardship of this inspiring project, and the EDC for their fruitful collaboration with New York Waterway, and I encourage all New Yorkers to take the new ferries for a spin.”

“We're eager to see new transportation options open up, and to use our waterways to bring the boroughs together,” said Council Member Garodnick. “A viable commuter ferry is a prominent part of our vision for the City’s future, and this is an important step towards making it a reality.”

“Long before the subway system connected the five boroughs, ferry service proved to be an efficient and convenient means of transportation throughout the city,” said Council Member Levin. “I applaud the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn to ensure that North Brooklyn commuters once again have a reliable alternative to the G train. As a Greenpoint resident, I personally look forward to utilizing the ferry service often.”

“The implementation of ferry service is a giant step towards our effort to reconnect New Yorkers to the waterfront,” said Council Member Nelson, Chair of the City Council Waterfronts Committee. “With the ongoing service cuts to the City’s subways and buses, this new ferry service will give commuters an alternative option of getting to and from work while familiarizing tourists and city residents with the wonders New York has to offer outside of Manhattan.”

“In an increasingly congested city, we need reliable alternatives to get people to and from work. Ferry service is an option we must expand,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “Ferry service will improve connections between the five boroughs, helping ease traffic congestion and provide long-term economic support for the City of New York. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on creating transportation alternatives for our communities.”

The service will operate in both directions and make seven regular stops along the East River, with two additional summer stops:

  • East 34th Street in Manhattan
  • Hunter’s Point South/Long Island City
  • Greenpoint at India Street
  • North Williamsburg between North 5th and North 6th Streets
  • South Williamsburg at Schaefer Landing at Kent Avenue
  • DUMBO at Fulton Ferry Landing off Old Fulton Street
  • Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue – summer Fridays
  • Governors Island – summer Saturdays and Sundays

Travel time between each stop is approximately five minutes. On Fridays in the summer, an additional loop service will connect Pier 11, DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue, and Governors Island, running from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. During the operating season on Governors Island, the regular ferry route will be extended on Saturdays and Sundays from Pier 11 to Governors Island, providing Brooklyn and Queens Residents a one seat ride to the harbor recreation destination. This will complement the existing free service run to Governors Island from the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan and Pier 6 in Brooklyn.

“Commuters, visitors, and residents can now take advantage of the much talked-about and long-awaited East River Ferry service – a service that will deliver fast, frequent, reliable, relaxing, and sustainable transportation to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan,” said NYCEDC President Pinsky. “The new ferry service is a coordinated public-private effort that will trigger economic development and reactive the waterfront in vibrant, but underserved neighborhoods. We want to thank BillyBey for working with us and sharing our vision of providing more New Yorkers with a true mass water transportation option.”

“The City's many new East River waterfront communities will greatly benefit from this new frequent ferry service between Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan,” said City Planning Commissioner Burden. “For commuters, residents and visitors, a robust waterborne transit service will blur the boundaries between our boroughs as never before. The City's new Comprehensive Waterfront Plan made the expanded use of our waterways a primary recommendation, and it is gratifying to witness its launch so early after release of the plan.”

The City is providing $9.3 million over the next three years to help ensure affordability of the service. Ridership above projected levels would reduce the City’s contribution. New ferry landings were constructed at North Williamsburg by Douglaston Development and in Greenpoint by Stiles LLC. Congress Members Nadler and Maloney secured federal funds to assist in the construction of the landings. Along with upgrades made to the already existing landings, the total capital investment in Brooklyn and Queens exceeds $10 million. Riders disembarking at 34th Street in Manhattan will see a new passenger waiting area under construction that will open in 2012, being built with funding from the federal government and the Port Authority among others.

“This is truly an exciting day, not only for Brooklyn and Queens, but for all of New York,” said Paul Goodman, President of BillyBey Ferry Co., which operates the ferries. “With this new service, the waterfront communities in Brooklyn and Queens will have a frequent and reliable transportation alternative, and a more enjoyable means of access to Manhattan and their neighboring communities. And residents and visitors of Manhattan will have a new way of discovering the vibrant communities in Brooklyn and Queens. We are thrilled to be bringing this much needed new transportation option to New York City and hope everyone takes advantage of it.”

“Employing the blue highways that surround us to move people for work and for fun makes good common sense,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. “More people on boats will ease congestion on our roads and rails. The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance applauds the new East River service and will work with its 544 alliance partners and with the City of New York to make it a success.”

This initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy, a sustainable blueprint for New York City’s waterfront and waterways launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn in May 2011. To reconnect New Yorkers and visitors to the water and reclaim New York City’s standing as a premier waterfront city, the plan will transform the City’s waterfront with new parks, new industrial activities and new housing, and it will capitalize on the City’s waterways to promote water-borne transportation, recreation, maritime activity and natural habitats. The plan has two components: a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects, including the development of more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks, creation of 14 new waterfront esplanades and introduction of new commuter ferry service; and the Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a framework for the City’s 520 miles of shoreline for the next decade and beyond. The 130 action agenda projects are expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and at least 3,400 permanent maritime and industrial jobs. It is the first citywide plan for the waterfront in nearly two decades and the first ever comprehensive plan for the waterways themselves.


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Contact Info

Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent
(212) 788-2958

Jamie McShane
(212) 788-7116

Julie Halpin
BillyBey/NY Waterway
(212) 691-2800

Jen Friedberg
(212) 312-3523