2014-01-31 / Letters

Ferries For The Future

Dear Editor:

"Sail On! Ferry Service Gets Renewal" (Kevin Boyle -- January 24th) could be the wave of the future. Our waterways are an underutilized natural asset which can offer significant transportation alternatives for thousands of New Yorkers. Most of our existing public transportation and roadways are already operating at or above capacity. New ferry services can be implemented far more quickly than construction of new subways, commuter rails or highways. These can take years or even decades until completion of environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements and actual construction before reaching beneficial use. Completing all of the above along with finding funding for ferry boats, docks and parking with costs in the millions may be easier than finding the billions of dollars necessary for construction of new or extended subways, commuter rails or highways. Utilization of ferry boats equipped with modern fuel-efficient engines can make a positive contribution to air quality.

In April 1967, the old Jersey Central Rail Road ended ferry service between Liberty Street and Pavonia, New Jersey. Later that year, in November 1967, the old Erie Lackawanna Rail Road suspended ferry service between Barclay Street and Hoboken. Fast forward to today. Thousands of daily commuters use ferries from Hoboken, New Jersey to the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan. There are also 66,000 daily patrons of the Staten Island Ferry System which connects St. George, Staten Island with the Whitehall Street Ferry Terminal. Unlike the other four boroughs, 500,000 Richmond County residents have no direct subway or commuter rail system linking them with the rest of NYC.

More than two years ago, thousands of riders began utilizing the East River ferry connecting various waterfront neighborhoods including Long Island City, East 34th Street, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Wall Street and Governors Island.

Who would not want to enjoy the fresh air and breeze that only waterborne transportation can provide. Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can.

LARRY PENNER

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