2014-01-24 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

The Original Ferry Advocate Has Ideas

To Whom It May Concern:

I endorse ferry service to Manhattan from Rockaway and other areas of the city that have more than 1 1/2 hour commuting times. However, I differ with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and NYCEDC. Instead of the inner harbor loop, the city should connect ferry service through the large parking lots located in the outer boroughs into Manhattan.

Through improved ferry service, the city would be able to keep more cars and buses from entering Manhattan and certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

I request that the city council consider the following points:

1. Connect all NYC area airports to Manhattan via ferry service.

Such a ferry service could run every half hour throughout the day (not just during commuting times). For example, a service could be established linking Newark Liberty Airport to Kennedy Airport with a stop at the future Staten Island Ferris Wheel and outlet mall. The next stop could be Rockaway at Riis Park with its 9,000-car parking lot and then on to Kennedy Airport.

Another run ferry run could be established between Newark and La Guardia Airports with stops at Wall Street, Midtown, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City and finally on to the World’s Fair Marina/Citi- Field and the new mall planned. Additionally, a service could be established between Kennedy Airport and La Guardia using ferries. The stops would be Kennedy Airport, Rockaway, Wall Street, Roosevelt Island, Long Island City and La Guardia Airport.

2. 2012 was record year for ridership on the NYC subway. Does it make any sense to encourage JFK travelers, with their luggage to get on the NYC subway? Couldn’t that develop into a security nightmare? Consider the expense of checking luggage at the 420 train stations in NYC during a terrorist alert.

3. Ferry service connections should be linked to the following large parking lots throughout the city: Riis Park, Queens, 9,000 spaces and the Keyspan lot; Orchard Beach, Bronx, 6,000 spaces; Miller Field, Staten Island; CitiField, Queens; Yankee Stadium, Bronx, and Ferry Point Park, Bronx.

The key to successful ferry service is the availability of close and convenient parking.

4. Express buses should not have to travel all the way into Manhattan but rather these buses could travel to a ferry dock enabling them to make two or three pickup runs versus the one run currently in operation. If the express buses did not have to travel into Manhattan, the MTA would have at least 600 more buses to provide other runs, which could offset the cost of ferry service. For example, an express bus traveling from Bayside to the World’s Fair Marina (instead of going into Manhattan) could complete two or three runs each morning thereby freeing up other buses for other runs.

5. Ferryboats could be fueled by using bio-diesel. In NYC there are more than 26,000 bars and restaurants, each producing 10-50 gallons of waste vegetable oil a week. Some of this is currently being procured into the City’s sewer system causing clogs. As part of a subsidy plan, wouldn’t it be a good idea to provide a fuel subsidy since fuel is a major cost to a ferry operator? Then, the city could create two centrally located ferry fuel stations allowing ferries to load up on 1,000 gallons of biodiesel at a time.

6. Plans in NYC for outlets malls in Staten Island, Bronx and possibly in Brooklyn along with the rebuilt Seaport, Citifield Mall and the new mall in the base of the Freedom Tower all will need ferry service.

In 2011 there were 6 million visitors to the Statue of Liberty but 12 million visitors to the Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall in upstate New York. I doubt that a mall shopper with two small children will want to get on the NYC subway to go shopping.

7. Orchard Beach in the Bronx with its 6,000-car parking lot should be the gateway to Long Island Sound with connections to Glen Cove, L.I. and to Stamford, Conn.

8. Ferry service at present in Rockaway has cut the commute time from 1 and 1/2 hours down to less than half the time at 40 minutes.

In conclusion, please note that currently less than two tenths of one percent of NYC commuters travel by water transportation even though all of NYC is surrounded by water.

Many city planners envision more bicycle riders around our city and ferryboats could easily accommodate them. Furthermore, ferries are handicap and stroller-friendly. The events of September 11th, the transit strikes, blackouts, Hurricane Sandy, and steam pipe explosions have all proven that an expanded ferry service is needed during such disasters. The only fast and safe way to evacuate the city residents would be via the water. The addition of an expanded ferry transportation system as I have described in this statement clearly is a step in the right direction to eliminate traffic congestion in the city.

Thank you for listening to my proposals.

(Joe Hartigan, longtime ferry advocate, sent the above to numerous elected officials and city agencies)

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