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New Details Emerge For City's Plan to Expand Ferry Service

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The city's transportation network is inarguably strained, with packed subways and buses running all the live-long day. To add insult to injury, the subway network has been operating with bonkers delays, making commutes a major pain. Although the MTA won't be upgrading the city's train cars anytime soon, there is some good transit news on the horizon. The first phase of Mayor Bill de Blasio's citywide ferry network is due to come into service in 2017, according to the Commercial Observer. Here are some of the specifics.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is currently designing landings for the five new routes coming to the East River Ferry network. They expect to start installing them in the second half of 2016. The first three routes—serving Astoria and the Rockaways in Queens and Red Hook in Brooklyn—will launch in 2017. In 2018, routes serving the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Soundview in the Bronx will launch.

The exact locations of the ferry landings have not all been determined, and as Roland Lewis, the president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, told Commercial Observer, those locations can be moved. The EDC is still examining landing locations, including at the top of Gantry State Park in Long Island City. The EDC estimates that there are about 17,000 New York City Housing Authority apartments within a half a mile of a ferry landing that will be directly served by these new routes.

Ferries won't solve the entire transit problem. "It's certainly not a cure for all of our transit problems," warned Mr. Lewis. "We are still a city that will rely on a large and amazing system of subways and buses. But it will alleviate congestion in certain areas that need it like Williamsburg and Long Island City, and it is equally important for neighborhoods that are transit starved—I use the example of Astoria and Soundview in the Bronx."

"The ferries that make the most sense are where there is a large and growing market on the waterfront like we are seeing in Long Island City, Greenpoint and Astoria," a senior fellow of an urban research and advocacy organization told the Observer. "My suggestion to the mayor is to try out one or two routes first rather than throwing all five out there."

This new ferry service would cost $2.75 per trip, just like a pay-per-ride MetroCard. Plenty of tourists use the subway system to get around, but that's because it's so convenient. The city expects that tourists will also make use of the new ferry routes to get a new perspective on the city.

While the Second Avenue Subway's first phase keeps getting pushed back and is currently slated for 2017, the 7 train extension to 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue is due to open, at last, next month. So, there's something to look forward to in the immediate future.

—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· Here's What You Need to Know About the City's Big Ferry Expansion [Commercial Observer]
· All Five Boroughs May Get Affordable Ferry Service [Curbed]