Ferries cost city nearly $11 a ride

The government kicks in $10.73 for each ride on the city’s ferry system. (Pictured) A ferry along the Lower East Side route pulls into the Stuyvesant Cove stop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A report from government watchdog group the Citizens Budget Commission found that subsidies for the city’s ferry system are 10 times what the government pays for subway trips.

The New York Post reported last Thursday that according to the report, the city kicks in $10.73 for each individual ferry trip, compared to the $1.05 subsidy for each subway trip, despite the fact that the fare for both modes of transportation is the same at $2.75. And although the Staten Island ferry is free for riders, the subsidy per trip is almost half that of NYC Ferry’s at $5.46 because the operating costs for the service are lower.

Although the mayor’s office said that ridership for NYC Ferry service is expected to grow to nine million by 2023, its ridership of 4.1 million rides in 2018 is much lower than daily use of the subway. The report found that the subway, on which there were 2.7 billion trips in 2017, serves more people in a single day than the ferry serves all year.

CBC’s report notes that the subsidies are high because the operating costs are high due to the long routes and seasonal ridership, but also because revenue is low since the fare is pegged to the subway and bus fare. NYC Ferry recently announced an expansion that the report said will require even further subsidies, costing as much as $24.75 per ride for the Coney Island route.

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Mayor announces expanded ferry service

The ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove Park (Photo by Thomas Rochford)

By Sabina Mollot

One year after the launch of NYC Ferry, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that ridership along the city’s waterways could grow to as many as 9 million annual passengers by 2023. This is twice as many passengers as were initially projected, so in anticipation of commuters abandoning the subway and flocking to ferries, the city will be nearly doubling its fleet of boats. For this purpose, $300 million has already been socked away for use over the next several years.

The funds will go towards three new 350-passenger capacity ferries (by late this summer) along the busiest routes and a second homeport where ferries will be maintained and repaired. There will also be improvements to the two main ferry terminals, Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street. These include wider gangways and new bow-loading locations to increase the number of vessels that can dock simultaneously. Infrastructure improvements and upgrades are also planned for existing barges and landings to accommodate larger crowds. Eight charter vessels will also be deployed this summer, each with capacity between 250-500 passengers.

Commuters will also see increases in service. Boats will be arriving every 20-30 minutes on weekdays and weekends on all four routes. Additionally, beginning on Memorial Day Weekend, Governors Island will be the last stop on the East River and South Brooklyn routes. This is aimed at increasing service to the popular summer destination.

No changes were mentioned specifically for the ferry stop at Stuyvesant Cove, although it, along with four other stops on the Lower East Side route, is expected to open late this summer, which would be on schedule.

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Stuy Town bus terminal proposed for L shutdown

MTA graphic depicting proposed mitigation plans during the L train shutdown

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new temporary bus terminal may be headed for under the FDR Drive across from Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, the MTA and the city have announced. The terminal will act as a transfer point for ferry riders during the 15-month L train shutdown, with more than 60 buses per hour going through the space under the FDR.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation both discussed the plan while testifying at a City Council Transportation Committee hearing last Thursday. During the hearing, they provided information on the proposed terminal and other mitigation plans for the shutdown, including a new, also-temporary ferry route that will end at the planned Stuyvesant Cove ferry stop at East 20th Street and connect with the M14 Select Bus Service (SBS), which is expected to launch in time for the shutdown.

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Work to start soon on Stuy Cove ferry landing

Rendering released by Economic Development Corporation in May 2016 of what new ferry landing will look like

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Winter is coming and so is construction on a ferry landing at Stuyvesant Cove. Construction on the 20th Street stop will likely begin this winter and finish by spring in order to be functional on the new Lower East Side route launching next summer.

Representatives from the Economic Development Corporation, the city agency that controls NYC Ferry, offered the information on the new landing at a City Council hearing for the economic development committee last Thursday.

EDC executive vice president Seth Meyers said that the work needed to be done during the winter because of restrictions that prevent construction from parts of spring into summer.

“There are times of the year, due to what’s called a fish moratorium while fish are breeding, that we can’t do work in the water,” he said.

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Pols cheer Fashion Week’s impact on city’s economy

Eric Gertler of the EDC, Polish Consul General Urszula Gacek, fashion designer Karolina Zmarlak, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, FIT president Dr. Joyce Brown and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Eric Gertler of the EDC, Polish Consul General Urszula Gacek, fashion designer Karolina Zmarlak, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, FIT president Dr. Joyce Brown and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Ahead of the beginning of New York’s spring Fashion Week today, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney released a report with the Joint Economic Committee detailing the economic benefits of both Fashion Week and the fashion industry as a whole for the city. The report highlighted the $887 million economic impact of Fashion Week, which makes it one of the largest industries in New York.

Maloney presented the report at FIT while wearing a dark mauve-colored dress designed by Polish-born designer and FIT graduate Karolina Zmarlak, stepping out from behind the podium and giving a quick spin.

“It would look much better on a model I’m sure,” Maloney joked. “But the point is that it was made in New York.”

Zmarlak is the first Polish-born designer to be sold in a US luxury retailer with Saks Fifth Avenue and she was an early recipient from the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Fashion Production Fund, a new program that was launched by EDC and provides bridge loans to fashion designers to assist them in moving their products to market.

Maloney said she was surprised by the economic impact that Fashion Week has on the city, noting that it had a higher impact than the US Open and the 2014 Super Bowl, and more than twice that of the New York City Marathon. The fashion industry employs over 180,000 people in the city, including 16,000 manufacturing jobs. Jobs in the industry are paying approximately $11 billion in wages, generating almost $2 billion in tax revenue each year.

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Possible changes to waterfront floated

Kayakers paddle around at an event at Stuyvesant Cove Park in June.  At a recent Community Board 6 meeting, Council Member Dan Garodnick answered questions from community residents about ideas for improvements at Stuyvesant Cove Park and said available funds would be most conducive to a kayak launch. Other suggestions for utilizing the East River waterfront were also brought up. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Kayakers paddle around at an event at Stuyvesant Cove Park in June. At a recent Community Board 6 meeting, Council Member Dan Garodnick answered questions from community residents about ideas for improvements at Stuyvesant Cove Park and said available funds would be most conducive to a kayak launch. Other suggestions for utilizing the East River waterfront were also brought up. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community Board 6’s Land Use and Waterfront Committee discussed some of the imminent changes planned for the East River, in the context of both the Blueway Plan to provide more access to the river for recreational activities and the proposed renovations of the Skyport Marina at the committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday.

City Council Member Dan Garodnick was on hand at the meeting to collect input from the committee on how the community would like to use the $1.5 million in funds that his office has allocated for Stuyvesant Cove Park.

A number of volunteers and staff members from organizations such as Long Island Community Boathouse and Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance attended the meeting. Rob Buchanan from the NYC Watertrail Association said that he and his colleagues found out about the meeting too late to prepare a presentation with ideas and would be willing to come back to the meeting next month, but LIC Boathouse volunteer Ted Gruber had a preliminary suggestion.

“You already have a kayak launch there but there’s a fence in the way,” he noted. “It would only take about $5,000 and what you could do is put a gate and a couple of steps before it gets warm next year, because who knows when the rest of this would happen.”

The council member acknowledged that there are interim solutions that could be considered, but he is optimistic that the project will be completed. What that project is specifically, he said, is up to the ideas from the community, but he feels that the money available is most conducive to a kayak launch.

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

According to calculations that Garodnick got from the Economic Development Corporation, expanding a beach in the space would be about $7 million, which would be more than an ecodock and kayak launch. An ecodock would also be costly at $4 to $5 million, he said, including an additional $500,000 per year for dredging because the water is too shallow, but that option would be revenue-generating because it would allow historic vessels to dock there.

EDC’s Senior Vice President of Asset Management Rich Cote was at the meeting to address additional questions about the proposed renovations to the Skyport Marina and a number of committee members expressed concern about the changes, especially in light of the discussion about increasing recreational activity on the East River not far from where the marina is situated. Cote had said that the bulk of the work planned was focused on maintenance and improvements to the infrastructure, and one of the major concerns from committee members was the possible addition of more space for larger seaplanes that was included in the presentation EDC gave at the previous meeting.

“A new seaplane dock is not maintenance,” argued Committee Vice Chair Ellen Imbimbo. “If you want to have the discussion on what the river is for, like those uses that Councilmember Garodnick spoke to earlier, then a seaplane dock seems contradictory to all of our discussions of making the river accessible so we can all enjoy it. I don’t think it’s about noise. It’s about how we view the East River: for fun and swimming or for more seaplanes.”

Imbimbo added that the Community Board has a history of opposing seaplanes, noting that committee member Lou Sepersky found a CB6 resolution from 1999 that opposed seaplanes and the community board struggled with the city over the heliport at East 34th Street when that was new to the area.

Cote responded that there were no specific plans for larger seaplanes to be docked at the marina “in the near future” and that they were only creating a place for seaplanes to come in, but committee members were not appeased by the implication that larger seaplanes could technically be docking at the marina at some point.

“There is nothing in this for the community,” said Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal. “The plan has nothing for the community except noise and problems.”

Plan for Skyport’s renovation revealed

EDC expects more seaplane activity, area residents frustrated that garage will stay and lack of community involvement


By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Last Wednesday, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented its plan for a $10 million renovation of the Skyport Garage and Marina to area residents at Community Board 6’s most recent Land Use and Waterfront meeting. The proposal, drawn up by Nandinee Phookan Architects, includes the possibility of increased seaplane activity, with an opportunity for larger, two-engine planes headed to Boston or Washington, D.C. to take off from the East River, as well as general infrastructure improvements to fix damage from Hurricane Sandy.

EDC Senior Vice President and Director of Operations Rich Cote said at the meeting that most of the budget is going towards infrastructure improvements.

“Sandy gave us a black eye like it did most of this part of Manhattan,” Cote said. “There was a million dollars worth of damage. We’re giving the place a full facelift, just trying to give the infrastructure some help.”

Cote explained that the garage had been leased to a private entity for fifty years until early 2012, when it reverted back to city ownership and is now under the purview of the EDC because the building was in such bad shape and improvements needed to be made.

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