A step toward easing commuting congestion

Ready to Ride: Roosevelt Island Ferry Deal Almost Done

Updated 23 weeks ago David Stone
Roosevelt Island Ferry Landing as Projected by New York City EDC
Roosevelt Island Ferry Landing as Projected by New York City EDC
Photo extracted from an EDC PowerPoint Presentation

Planned ferry service for Roosevelt Island is on track to begin operations this summer, according to an agreement being shaped into final form between the Roosevelt Island Operating and the NYC Economic Development Corporations.

A confident Seth Myers, Executive Vice President and Director of Project Implementation at New York City's Economic Development Corporation, delivered a detailed PowerPoint presentation to the RIOC's Real Estate Development Advisory Committee and a small group of residents, last evening.

After months of negotiations, the greatest snag being the ferry landing's location, NYCEDC and RIOC agree that they are near a final agreement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious Citywide Ferry Service designs will bring much anticipated ferry services to Roosevelt Island. An extension of the existing East River Ferry system adds a new route that begins in Astoria, floats south to a soon to be built landing behind the old Goldwater Hospital steam plant, then moves on to a second new landing near the historic gantries in Long Island City before crossing to Manhattan at 34th Street.

The trip from Roosevelt Island to LIC will take seven minutes, including docking times, and the ride from there to Midtown, another six minutes. 34th Street is a major hub for the system and connections from there will take you south to lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In answer to a question from Board Member Margie Smith, Myers said that a free shuttle bus already takes ferry passengers from the landing up 34th Street into Midtown.

The cost of a ride mirrors the subway, but at least in the beginning, it will remain at $2.75, even if the subway fares go up in the meantime, "because we've been talking about it for so long."

Transfers will not be available to other transportation services, but passengers will enjoy free transfers throughout the ferry system.

A 21st Century System

The vision projected by de Blasio and his team is for a network of ferry routes providing relief for crowding on other forms of transit between the city's boroughs. With 21 landings around town, 4.6 million riders are expected to take advantage of the system per year.

Realistically, that number is unlikely to do much to help riders jammed on subway platforms where almost that many passengers board trains every day, but in places like Roosevelt Island and Williamsburg, where situations are more critical, it may offer significant relief, especially during rush hours.

The new, environmentally friendlier ferries carry a maximum of 149 passengers. Depending on loads arriving from Astoria, with ferries on a roughly half-hour schedule, several hundred Roosevelt Islanders will be able to bypass the subway on weekday mornings.

Afternoons are likely to be more problematic because the new LIC North stop is anticipated to have the route's highest demand.

A fleet of new catamarans (boats with twin, parallel hulls) with bicycle, wheelchair and stroller areas will appreciate a landing where comfort and convenience have been thought out in advance. Passengers ready to board will be protected by canopies and windscreens. Unspecified "amenities" will be offered along with ticketing and organized waiting spaces.

The landing area negotiated with RIOC will be a short distance north of the existing dock where barges previously delivered oil for the steam plant, near where the extended sidewalk passes the baseball diamond's third base line. The old dock was not acceptable because it sits right above the 60th Street subway tunnel.

End Notes

  • Spring Town Hall: In response to a question from resident Sherie Helstien, Myers said he would be glad to return for a spring town hall meeting when they are nearer the opening date.
  • Roosevelt Island, Not Cornell Island: According to Myers, Cornell Tech is supporting the project as promised during development, but in answer to a question from Margie Smith, he affirmed that the landing will not be named "Cornell Tech," as reported in a plagiarized article in the Main Street WIRE, but will be called "Roosevelt Island." Although the WIRE was notified of plagiarized content, having repeated an error from a Queens news source, it has not been retracted or corrected and remains live and promoted on their website, as of this writing.
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