Ferry service to start by end of summer

‘Stuy Town’ sign will be changed to ‘Stuy Cove,’ landings will offer some protection from weather

A completed ferry landing in Astoria (Photo courtesy of the Economic Development Corporation)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Service on the new Lower East Side ferry route, including at Stuyvesant Cove, is on schedule to begin at the end of the summer, representatives for NYC Ferry reported to Community Board 6’s transportation committee this past Monday, although spokespeople did not have a more specific date.

The ferry, operated by Hornblower Cruises and managed by the Economic Development Corporation, will run starting from Wall Street, making stops at Corlears Hook on the Lower East Side, Stuyvesant Cove and 34th Street before ending at Long Island City, Queens.

Because construction appears nearly finished at the Stuyvesant Cove landing near 20th Street, one Stuyvesant Town resident, Larry Scheyer, questioned why service wouldn’t be starting sooner.

In response, EDC Vice President of government and community relations Radhy Miranda said that even after the landings are built, there are additional protocols before service can actually begin.

“There’s a lot of backend work that needs to be done, like training and safety checks, even after construction for the landing appears to be complete,” he said.

One meeting attendee noticed that signage had already been installed at the landing near 20th Street indicating that the name of the stop was “Stuyvesant Town” but EDC senior project manager Megan Quirk said that the stop has actually been officially named Stuyvesant Cove so the signage will be updated soon to reflect that.

Representatives at the meeting said that the landing at Stuyvesant Cove and the other new stops on the incoming Lower East Side route will have space for passengers to line up and buy tickets and will include canopies, windscreens and heaters to protect travelers from inclement weather. Miranda said that the gangways are fully ADA-accessible and wide enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs going in both directions.

The route will be serviced by boats with a capacity for 150 passengers, but Elana Ehrenberg, community development supervisor for Hornblower, said that boats with a capacity for 350 passengers will also be available for the route if there is the demand, during especially busy hours.

Community board member Kathleen Kelly pointed out that crowds off 300 or more passengers at the landing during peak hours could cause excessive congestion. Representatives at the meeting said that there will be extra staff available during the busy summer months to deal with these kinds of crowds.

“We have staff trained in crowd control,” Ehrenberg said. “It’s just a matter of making sure that people stay calm and communicating that everyone will be able to get on the boats.”

One committee member at the meeting asked the representatives about the possibility of adding boats to the route for the L train shutdown but Miranda said that although ferries are included in the mitigation plan, NYC Ferry specifically isn’t responsible for those routes.

“They will be using our landing (at Stuyvesant Cove) but it’s separate from our system,” Miranda said. “We’ll be working closely with the MTA and DOT to make sure that the schedules are aligned so service isn’t impacted.”

Regarding other transportation across Manhattan not necessarily related to the L train shutdown, community board member Bob Cohen asked for clarification on the cost. Although the fare for the ferry is the same as a subway and bus ride at $2.75, the systems are not integrated and transfers between the two are not possible, meaning a trip that includes a ferry and subway ride will cost $5.50. Megan Quirk with EDC confirmed that riders will have to pay the $2.75 subway fare in addition to the $2.75 ferry fare if continuing their trip on a train or a bus but did clarify that NYC Ferry will be operating a free shuttle bus from the 34th Street stop across Manhattan during commuting hours from Monday through Friday. Cohen asked if there was a plan for a free shuttle at 20th Street as well as 34th, but representatives said this isn’t likely.

“We see 34th Street as a hub to get people to jobs in midtown,” Quirk said, noting that the stop at 20th Street is expected to service residents trying to commute out of the neighborhood rather than get to destinations in that immediate area.

Miranda also noted that fare integration is possible at some point in the future but not until the MTA introduces a new payment system.

“We are talking to the MTA as they phase out the legacy MetroCard,” he said. “Once that happens, we’ll be able to discuss fare options.”

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