The New York City Ferry Program was launched in May of this year as a means of providing residents with an alternative mode of transportation. The service is expected to have 10 boats on 9 routes and carry about 4.5 million people annually. The ferries are operated by Hornblower Cruises and a trip costs $2.75 one way. Each ship is 85 feet long and can carry up to 150 people. Also, they are outfitted with battery charging stations and free WiFi.
A joint study was conducted between 2010 and 2013 by the NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Economic Development Corporation, and the NYC and Company to determine the feasibility of adding the ferries to the city’s transportation infrastructure. The study observed and analyzed the impact the newly commissioned East River Ferry Service had on the surrounding areas.
Hurricane Sandy had some influence on the implementation of this program! A temporary ferry service was implemented in the Rockaways after the IND Rockaway (A) line was destroyed. City officials saw how the public responded to the new route and decided that there was a lot of potential in a citywide ferry service. The results of the study were released in 2013 and concluded that the new ferry routes were responsible for increased real estate prices for properties within 1 mile of the new docks. In addition, new construction activities and several new businesses were opened in the adjacent areas. Moreover, the ferry service provided additional transportation options to communities which were under served by mass transit. Consequently, new ferry docks were built in such areas.
Hence, why Coney Islanders are demanding a ferry route? The D, F, Q, and N trains all terminate in Coney Island while the B goes to Brighton Beach. Thus, are the residents really devoid of access to mass transit ? Also, Coney Island is home to its famous boardwalk, amusement parks, beaches, and restaurants. So, does the area need any additional economic stimulus?
The above questions do make one ponder the need for a ferry service in Coney Island. However, Daniel Ioannou of the “Coney Islanders For Ferry” group does make an interesting case for a ferry service. He is the author of “Critique of the 2012 NYCEDC Coney Island Ferry Feasibility Study.” He asserts that there are several discrepancies in the 2012 feasibility study.
The 2012 study concluded that a ferry would only appeal to Coney Island visitors. Ioannou argues that Coney Island residents would definitely prefer a scenic 29 minute ride into Manhattan instead of a boring 1 hour ride in a congested subway car.
Also, the 2012 study suggested that there may not be enough Coney Island residents commuting to Manhattan. Ioannou asserts that the Stillwell Avenue station has more weekday riders than all of the 9 Rockaway stations combined! Below are his figures.
The 2012 study also suggests that a ferry dock in the Coney Island Creek would be too far away from the visitor attractions. Thus, a bus trip between the ferry terminal and the amusement parks would add to the cost of the trip. Ioannou disputes this by indicating that a bus trip isn’t necessary because the distance between the 2 points is only 3 blocks or 0.4 miles. This is the same distance between the Rockaway ferry terminal and boardwalk.
Ioannou believes that the biggest hurdle preventing Coney Island from getting a ferry route is the mayor and the NYCEDC. There won’t be another feasibility study until after the 5 initial ferry routes have been implemented and have shown to be profitable. Coney Island is a major destination for many New Yorkers. Therefore, why should its fate be determined by visitors to lesser traveled areas such as the Rockaways and Soundview?
Ioannou further pointed out that Coney Island’s population is rapidly growing. This is evident from the numerous housing developments in the area. Furthermore, the citywide ferry service must reach 5.6 million annual riders in order for the city to receive a portion of the ticket sales revenue.
Daniel Ioannou’s report makes a clear case for a Coney Island – Manhattan ferry route. About 3,000,000 million people visit the Coney Island attractions every year. A new ferry route would provide these visitors with more commuting options and reduce the load on an aging subway system. More ferry users will also mean that the city will earn money sooner. Hence, there’s absolutely no reason why Coney Island shouldn’t have a ferry!