Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will East River Ferry Service Make It's Way To Roosevelt Island Or Are We In For Just Another Tease? Like 1981 -2010

You Tube video of New York Water Taxi leaving Fulton Landing underneath the Brooklyn Bridge

The 8/17 New York Post reported on a New York City pilot program to bring ferry service to the East River next year with a possible stop at Roosevelt Island.

... The city issued a request for proposals yesterday for a Williamsburg ferry landing, part of a plan to bring water taxis to the East River.

It's part of a pilot program that will begin next spring after a one-year delay.

The ferry would also make stops at Northside and Greenpoint.

Officials are also conducting studies to decide whether to add ferry service to La Guardia Airport and Astoria in Queens, and 125th, 20th, 75th and 90th streets along the East River in Manhattan.

They're also looking at the possibility of ferry service to Roosevelt Island and Coney Island...
Roosevelt Island residents have been teased before with the prospect of ferry service only to have nothing come of it.

NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin has been a long time advocate of Roosevelt Island ferry service. I asked Ms. Lappin's office if they had any new information regarding the possibility of Roosevelt Island ferry service. I received this response:
We don’t have any definite information right now. The study is continuing. However, Council Member Lappin has been pushing to make sure that Roosevelt Island is included in any and all discussions about the future of ferry service in New York.
Roosevelt Island Octagon building owner Bruce Becker has been very involved in trying to bring ferry service to a dock near the building he owns. I asked Octagon building representative John Renner if he was aware of any progress in bringing ferry service to Roosevelt Island.

Image Of Mr. Renner At Octagon Dock From Daily News

Mr. Renner replied:
We were disappointed that the City the was not able to deploy the funding secured for the Roosevelt Island dock by elected officials in time for the ferry to be in service during the tram outage. We are very interested in advocating for Roosevelt Island to be included in the proposed East River pilot program and encourage all interested parties to help get the message out.
More on the background regarding Roosevelt Island ferry service here

Also, check out this 1981 NY Times article describing NYC seeking private operators for a Roosevelt Island ferry service from an earlier post. Sound familiar?

No matter how advantageous ferry service would be for Roosevelt Island, let not forget that it has limited passenger ridership capacity - 149 per NY Water Taxi vessel, would probably dock at Roosevelt Island no more than once an hour and at the Octagon, far from the Tram and Subway transportation hub. Also, unless the operational costs of the ferry were subsidized by the City, property owners or some combination, the price per ride that had previously been discussed was approximately $5 not including any necessary transfers to a bus or subway.

Still, if New York City is to have a water transportation system on the East River, it would be ridiculous not to include Roosevelt Island.

UPDATE 4 PM - RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez adds:
I read the NY Post article. It seems that the Mayor's Office is restarting its 5 Borough Ferry Plan. At this time, RIOC has not had any recent discussions about a ferry service for Roosevelt Island. I will reach out to our contacts with the City to learn more about what they are now planning to do with the ferry service.