New York’s new citywide ferry program only launched in May, but it’s already become a popular transportation resource for Brooklyn and Manhattan commuters (and those seeking a more scenic route to the Rockaways). And today, it’ll expand to Queens: the Astoria route launches today, with stops in that neighborhood, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island (on the island’s west side), Midtown, and Wall Street.
The Astoria route is expected to shave some time off the usual commute from that neighborhood to Lower Manhattan—according to the city, the total commute time will be about 45 minutes, compared to more than an hour on the subway. (And hey, it’s hard to argue with how much nicer a ferry ride is compared to spending an hour on the R train.)
But rolling out ferry service, which has seen more than 1.5 million riders since it debuted in May, isn’t without its challenges. A New York Times piece today looks at Hallets Cove in Queens, which has long been a beloved spot for kayakers, but is now home to the NYC Ferry dock for the neighborhood. The Long Island City Boathouse runs free kayaking tours and lessons from the cove, but may have to stop due to safety concerns. “This is like building a subway stop in the middle of a playground,” David Matten, the president of the boathouse, told the Times.
Hornblower, the company that operates the ferry system, believes that the two can coexist. “The reality is we experience kayakers all along the East River, not just in this one location,” its SVP for development, Cameron Clark, told the Times. (Anyone who’s ridden the East River route to Brooklyn knows this to be true.)
The city, of course, sees the service as a bigger benefit for New Yorkers. “New Yorkers that have faced limited access to public transit will now have a fast, comfortable, and affordable way to connect to good jobs and opportunities across the city,” NYCEDC CEO James Patchett noted in a statement. The ferry dock in Astoria, for example, is close to the Astoria Houses, a NYCHA housing complex that’s a 15-minute walk to the closest subway station.
The Astoria route is expected to carry nearly 2,000 passengers per day; to accommodate that, as well as the growing demand on the system overall, the city also announced that it will expand three of the 20 boats that are currently in use, increasing their capacity to 250. (Hopefully new, delightful names are coming for those, too.)