Could Brooklyn Get More Ferry Service?

02/02/2012 11:48 AM |


A now-iconic sign or two in Bay Ridge still directs traffic toward the 69th Street Pier for ferry service that hasn’t run since the early 1990s. (The ferry to Staten Island stopped running in 1964, thanks to the Verrazano Bridge, which opened that year.) But if the borough president gets his way, that could change. Marty Markowitz was expected to announce at last night’s State of the Borough speech that he supports ferry service to connect Manhattan with Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and Canarsie, the Daily News reported.

The push to return ferry service to Bay Ridge reached a peak in 2007-2008, when Heather McCown and her Sunset-Ridge Waterfront Alliance lobbied elected officials and collected signatures, though the plan ultimately fizzled.

Service to other parts of southern Brooklyn hasn’t had the same level of support. Sheepshead Bites reports that in 2009, local opinion there was summed up in one man’s remarks: “It’s romantic. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. But practically speaking, it’s not practical.” One study showed a ferry ride to or from Sheepshead Bay would cost more than $17 per person; with fares around $6, it would be too heavily subsidized—and not even necessarily faster than the subway.

Markowitz’s hopes are certainly buoyed by the recent success of the East River ferry, connecting North Brooklyn and Queens with lower and Midtown Manhattan, which attracted more riders than anticipated last year.

Brooklyn’s other ferry connects the Ikea in Red Hook to Manhattan.
Brooklyn has two other ferries: one that connects the Ikea in Red Hook to Manhattan, and another that exists across time and connects Walt Whitman psychically with all future generations.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart


One Comment

  • Ha! Actually, Red Hook was one of the neighborhoods that the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s East River Ferry study – – said could benefit most from having a “real” ferry service with commute time savings of 35-40 minutes to Manhattan (the Ikea Water Taxi doesn’t operate early or often enough to operate as a commuter service, and Ikea reneged on their promise to make it free for non-customers, so its brought little benefit to Red Hook commuters). Unfortunately, that same NYCEDC study ignored most of Red Hook’s 11,000 residents when it studied potential ridership, so a Red Hook ferry stop was not seen to be “feasible” in the initial trial. Hopefully, they’ll revisit the study and extend the East River Ferry to Red Hook, an addition of only a couple of minutes to their current route, as really should have been the case in the first place. It’s certainly bizarre that residents of a waterfront neighborhood such as Red Hook, minutes from Manhattan by water, should feel so land-locked.