Weiner Proposes Expanded Ferry Service Citywide, Including Sheepshead Bay

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

Capital New York is reporting that Anthony Weiner has proposed a slew of ferry service ideas in an attempt to steal the issue from rival Christine Quinn.

In a recent press conference, Weiner put forward a series of plans for expanding ferry service should he become mayor, starting with making the expanded Rockaway line a permanent reality. Past that, he proposed ideas that would bring ferry service to the Bronx and Sheepshead Bay.

“I’m proposing activating a line from Riverdale in the Bronx that would come down to either Lower Manhattan or a pier on the west side; a southern Brooklyn line that would service Sheepshead Bay, which would get traffic off of the Belt Parkway; reactivating service that has run intermittently to LaGuardia Airport and would also operate on busy days at Citi Field. … A line going to Kennedy Airport that could be used for cargo as well as taking passengers off of the Van Wyck Expressway and the Belt Parkway; and an East Side shuttle that would shuttle passengers up and down the East Side with greater frequency until the Second Avenue subway comes online,” Weiner said.

Weiner’s bold ferry ideas were met with skepticism from Quinn’s camp, who according to Capital New York, believes that Weiner is riding on Quinn’s coattails on the issue:

Christine Quinn has, until now, owned the ferry issue. She’s been a big booster of East River ferry service, and in April, she proposed bringing ferry service to Atlantic Avenue, Red Hook, Astoria, Roosevelt Island, 91st Street and Ferry Point Park.

“Unlike ex-Congressman Weiner, Christine Quinn didn’t just talk about ferry services, she actually delivered ferry services on the East River, from Queens to Brooklyn and Brooklyn to Manhattan, which surpassed its ridership goal for a year in 6 months and in 18 months of operation served 1.6 million riders,” said her campaign spokesman Mike Morey, in an email.

Despite Weiner and Quinn’s dreams of connecting the boroughs with a fleet of ferries, studies made by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have pointed out that expanding the service would not be economically viable. As we’ve previously reported, the EDC noted many problems with bringing a ferry to Sheepshead Bay, including issues with parking, inclement weather and high costs.

Weiner has subsequently argued that federal dollars could be used to subsidize the prohibitive cost of ferries and that overall, adding extra mass transit options will save the city in the long run.

“We are gonna have to subsidize ferries, but remember, it is not a cost, it is also a savings that we have: the wear and tear on our city, the efficiencies that we gain by having traffic move more quickly and also the availability of federal funds in the form of the national gas tax, one of the few taxes that we actually take more in than we pay out,” Weiner said.

  • RomanM

    Freaking genius. Mayor Weiner has a nice ring to it.

    • bruce b

      So does Oscar Meyer, but I’m not swallowing that baloney either…. Oy, ignore that joke, it’s on too many levels.

  • The idea of ferries is nice, but is it necessary? What is to be gained from their presence?

    Some of us older people remember ferries that went from Bay Ridge to Staten Island, and from Sheepshead Bay to Rockaway. The bridge made the Staten Island ferries superfluous, the Rockaway ferry was discontinued because of inadequate use. There are other forms of transportation which are more practical than ferries in the areas that they are being proposed.

    • levp

      I know a number of people who use LIC-Midtown NY Waterway ferry because they drive from LI and park at the ferry – all because they wouldn’t be caught dead taking 7 train, like all those peasants.
      Ferries from NJ to Manhattan are *packed* as well.

      That’s the difference between your examples and Weiner’s proposal – commuters. And a great ride as well, especially if the weather is nice.
      Like a BM3 bus, which costs north of $5/ride, but still has enough riders.

      • But commuters would only use the service at short intervals. Rush hours would see much traffic, but not much use, if any, during the rest of the day. Does that justify the expense?

        The Staten Island ferries from 39th and 69th Street were pleasant experiences. They were priced reasonably, less than a subway ride at that time. They were missed when they closed, but the Manhattan to Staten Island Ferry continued, as it still does.

        Buses, of course, are individually a smaller investment. And while they may lack the status of a boat ride they get people where they need to go just the same. And the price of an express bus will keep the unwanted commoners off the bus.

        • levp

          The schedule can built to account for number of potential passengers, i.e. no departures between 11 and 4.

          • Could it still meet the start-up expenses that way? If so, eventually running costs would be met as well/

          • levp

            Look at NY Waterways – they seem to be doing pretty well.

          • Didn’t they start by re purposing docks?

            Of course docks are probably the easier part of it. It’s buying the boats that is the expensive undertaking.

            I suppose it could be done in stages.

    • Subway Stinker

      I rarely agree with Lisa Anna, heck, I can barely spell her name, but today she is spot on. Ferry service is expensive, ridership is very weather-centric and moves few people compared to good subway or light rail service. The subsidies for idyllic ferry service would be better spent on improving subway service from the butt end of Brooklyn to Manhattan. And, by the way, has any Bites reader ridden the N SeaBeach during the evening rush hour. That line is a sad Chinatown to Sunset Park cattle car.

      • It’s too bad that useable express service can’t be implemented on that line. There’s no provision for express stops between 59th Street and Coney Island. Express service of that kind might compensate for the sardine conditions one experiences before 59th Street.

        I wonder if there is some way that the open cut could be widened.

      • jboy61

        weather centric? Tell that to everyone who takes the Staten Island ferry basically everyday minus Hurricane Sandy. And then you give an example of where the ferry is working. Its a cattle car? Hmm you mean people are using it? that’s the point! the problem is making the city add more ferries so you don’t have a subway like experience

      • EndofDaze

        The old Sea Beach “N” Line used to be full of cujines, cujinettes, landsmen, landsmenettes, and some vikings. Things change! Brooklyn is still booming, nonetheless, and many of us are grateful…As for the Ferry service, having used it when it had the Rockaways to Sheepshead Bay to Bay Ridge to lower Manhattan route, it’s a nice ride, but financially unsustainable, because not enough people use it, making the necessary costs prohibitive. You would have to change the transportation mindset in a lot of people, many of whom are not that cognizant that they live by some beautiful bays, and an ocean, to begin with!!!

        • If they were small ferries they might break even.

          My mother’s family were among the Vikings on the N train. My grandfather was a sailor when he was young.

    • jboy61

      lets re-plan it first but don’t fully write it off because of what occurred decades ago. demographics changed and those who would likely use the ferry are probably higher than before. They’re a lot more people in the area, plus a ferry service brings in more people to the area would normally not want to take the subway here because its deemed too far by train. We’re an ocean/bay front community, lets actually use it to our advantage and bring in some money off of it

      • If it can at least break even then there would be advantages.

        • jboy61

          I think it would, plus the youth are looking for a change to their commute. Why do so many from Greenpoint use the ferry there? They could use the subway like anyone else but pack it on to the ferry. Its not only the ferry but the area near the ferry (parks/boutique businesses/accessibility to other transportation like bike paths). Bringing in a ferry alone would see people but to have a real impact there would need to be the implementation of a lot more to make it a real selling point to ‘outsiders’

          • The city needs to do more to promote its “outlying’ areas. Media is finally discovering the fact that New York is a vast and diversely interesting city. But tourist inflow is needed as well, and that is where tourist board promotion effects would help. That could bring it over the top, and help maintain and grow local business.

  • Murry

    Real jobs must be hard to come by.

  • MoneyTalks

    Propose all you want.
    Who will pay for it?

    • levp

      From the article:

      Weiner has subsequently argued that federal dollars could be used to subsidize the prohibitive cost of ferries and that overall, adding extra mass transit options will save the city in the long run.

      “We are gonna have to subsidize ferries, but remember, it is not a cost, it is also a savings that we have: the wear and tear on our city, the efficiencies that we gain by having traffic move more quickly and also the availability of federal funds in the form of the national gas tax, one of the few taxes that we actually take more in than we pay out,” Weiner said.

  • bruce b

    I’d love to see it. But I can tell you (and I posted this before), about 25 years ago there was a ferry from Wall Street which made it’s final stop to S. Bay, right to Lundy’s. I took it once (even though I worked in mid town). When I got off the ferry, all of about 3 other people got off with me. It’s a tough sell.

    It’s a shame that NYC has so much waterway and so little of it is used. Maybe we need to do it, take an initial financial loss till the thing catches on. Sometimes (like television shows, or even a stock), it takes awhile for good things to catch on. Not everything worthwhile is an instant smash success.

    I also used to think it was a matter of “takes too long”. The ferry from Wall Street took over an hour, to the best of my recollection. But then I had never taken the “express” bus, at the time, and was later surprised to find out how long that bus takes, what with all the stops. If the bus can be popular, why can’t the ferry?

    • jboy61

      you do realize though there are tens of thousands more that live and work here in S Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach correct? I think it would be an amazing success, just look at Downtown Brooklyn (more like Uptown when compared to where we are). I agree it’ll take a while but nothing like you experienced years back. The Fast-Ferry is quite obviously fast. Ever see the Sandy Hook ferry? That thing moves!

      • bruce b

        Agreed that my experience is 25+ years old. Has the working population increased here? Are the boats faster? Even if so, can you entice the people to change? Lots of questions. I’d love to seethe waterways filled with ferries.

  • anonymous

    It’s a huge deal. Driving to Queens and Bronx via the Jamaica Bay is a breeze. Van Wycke and Belt Parkway can get you anywhere within 30 minutes. But god forbid I have to commute on train or bus. Easily a 2 hour commute with 2-3 transfers and a walk. I rather take a ferry for $100, see all the wonderful sights, and get where I need to go.

    Seriously, what’s the point of having a huge bay, if It’s only going to host private boats and party yachts?