Land ho! Red Hook eyed for ferry stop

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Ferry service might return to Red Hook, an area underserved by mass transportation.

The waterfront neighborhood, which was a stop for the New York City Water Taxi from March of last year to February 1 of this year, is being studied as a possible stop in a citywide ferry transit study, according to city officials.

The south Brooklyn neighborhood was named for inclusion in a ferry feasibility study last week as the city kicked off a new ferry service from Far Rockaway to the Brooklyn Army Terminal at 58th Street in Sunset Park to Lower Manhattan.

Also being looked at in the borough for ferry service are Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, Bay Ridge, north and south Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

“Ferries are fast, affordable, and environmentally friendly. As our waterfront becomes even more dynamic – with new housing and open space in communities like Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Hunter’s Point – ferries are going to become an even bigger part of our city’s transportation network,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“That vision of a revitalized waterfront is an important element of PlaNYC, and over the past year we’ve worked closely with Speaker Quinn and the Council to make it a reality.”

City Councilmember Sara Gonazlez, an advocate of a ferry service to the area, welcomed the idea of increased transportation options to her community.

“Imagine not enduring bumper to bumper traffic, but instead cruising along our historic waterfront, enjoying the fresh air and the views of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and the Manhattan skyline - all while protecting the environment, saving gas and getting there in a fraction of the time “ said Gonzalez, adding, “I look forward to joining with the community, my colleagues on the Council and the administration to build on this important first step. We have to get the word out so our residents utilize the service.”

New York Water Taxi President Tom Fox, which suspended service to Red Hook earlier this year due to low ridership, has been an advocate of city-wide ferry service.

“I think Red Hook makes tremendous sense for something we call the Brooklyn coastal route [which includes Red Hook, as well as piers in Sunset Park and downtown Brooklyn],” said Fox, who has responded to the Request for Proposals the EDC released to find a consultant to study ferry service feasibility to areas like Red Hook. “I think that if you bring those stops together you could build the service over time.”

As part of the feasibility study, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) will head a multi-agency task force together with the community’s input to scope out potential sites for all the possible ferry launches, said a DOT spokesperson.

Fort those areas that will be developed, the two-year pilot Rockaway service is being funded with $1.1 million in City Council funds, and a second phase of the plan will add new stops to North Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

About $4.4 million in federal transportation funds along with $1.1 million in city money will pay for construction of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint landings as well as another at Roosevelt Island in the second phase.

Unrelated to the city’s waterway plans, ferry service from Pier 11 in lower Manhattan to Ikea’s dock in Red Hook will begin when the home furnishing retailer opens on June 18.

Seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Ikea will operate a free ferry service every forty minutes for its customers using the New York City Water Taxis.

“While it’s nice for a lot of reasons, it will cut down on the use by Manhattanites of automobiles,” said Gonzalez spokesperson Michael NAME. “That’s a very welcome development.”

–with Meredith Deliso

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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