City to Launch Pilot Ferry Service to Randall's Island

By Jill Colvin on May 3, 2012 11:20am 

New York Water Taxi has been awarded a contract to provide six years of service to Randall's Island.
New York Water Taxi has been awarded a contract to provide six years of service to Randall's Island.
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Facebook/New York Water Taxi

UPPER EAST SIDE — Move over Governor’s Island.

The city has inked a new deal with New York Water Taxi to bring a pilot weekend ferry service to Randall’s Island this fall in hopes of attracting new visitors, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The agreement comes less than a month before the grand re-opening on June 2 of the pedestrian bridge that connects the island to Manhattan, which has been closed for construction for two years.

While the privately run New York Water Taxi has long provided ferry service to the island for special events, like Cirque Du Soleil performances and the Frieze Art Fair, this will be the first experiment with regular off-peak weekend service, parks staffers said.

City Park Administrator Aimee Boden said she hoped the service will encourage people who live in the neighborhood to finally discover the island, just a five-minute ride from the Upper East Side.

"I really hope it will help to bring them to the island to experience it firsthand," said Boden, who said the trial will help determine whether there is enough interest and traffic for a permanent ferry service to Randall's Island, which is lined with bike paths, sports fields and a network of pedestrian walkways that skirt the water’s edge.

“It’s remarkable. It’s like nowhere else,” raved Boden, adding that the city will be consulting with local residents and area community boards to determine exactly which weekends the service will run.

While details are still being finalized, she said the new ferry will likely leave from the East 90th Street pier, near Carl Schurz Park. Special-event service with continue to operate from Midtown’s busy East 35th Street pier, she said.

Fares are still being negotiated, but the company's service to IKEA costs $5 on weekdays and is free on the weekends.

According to a notice in the City Record, New York Water Taxi paid the city $136,000 for the six-year contract for the special events and trial service.

View from atop the Queens tower of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridges Queens suspension span, looking down on the Wards end of Randall's Island.
View from atop the Queens tower of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridges Queens suspension span, looking down on the Wards end of Randall's Island.
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MTA/Patrick Cashin

A spokesman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said the pilot program was expected to begin this summer. New York Water Taxi is still finalizing the details to roll out the pilot program in the fall.

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