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Bring East River Ferry to LES and Brooklyn Heights, Officials Say

By Lisha Arino | November 4, 2014 1:15pm | Updated on November 4, 2014 6:59pm
 Riders in Queens and Brooklyn can take the East River Ferry to Midtown and the Financial District.
Riders in Queens and Brooklyn can take the East River Ferry to Midtown and the Financial District.
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Flickr/Sean Davis

LOWER EAST SIDE — The East River Ferry should expand its route to the Lower East Side and Brooklyn Heights, where additional stops would add a "storm resilient" transportation option while also serving growing waterfront communities and parks, elected officials say.

A dozen local politicians urged the city’s Economic Development Corporation to add East River Ferry stops at Grand Street in Manhattan and at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, according to a letter sent to EDC President Kyle Kimball on Oct. 22.

“These stops increase connectivity between the City’s burgeoning Harbor Park [in the Lower East Side] and build a more resilient transit system for New York’s growing waterfront residential and workforce populations,” the officials wrote.

The letter was signed by state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Assembly members Brian Kavanagh and Joan Millman; Council members Margaret Chin, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez; and Assembly candidate Jo Anne Simon also signed the letter.

The East River Ferry began as a three-year pilot slated that would have ended in June 2014, but the city extended its contract until 2019. In January, the EDC released a preliminary citywide ferry survey that identified potential new stops and additional routes. 

Grand Street was identified as one of 11 viable new stops, according to the report. The stop would expand the area’s limited transit infrastructure and connect riders to Citi Bike terminals and the M14 and M21 buses, officials said.

Officials said ferry service would also help visitors access Harbor Park at Pier 42 as well as “resiliency and recreational upgrades” that would be implemented by the “Big U” Rebuild by Design Project, which includes landscaped paths that would lead into East River Park.

The stop would also serve an economically diverse population, including public housing residents, who have traditionally been underserved by public transit, officials said.

A Pier 6 stop would increase connectivity to Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and the Columbia Waterfront, officials argued. They said ferry would also give visitors direct access to Brooklyn Bridge Park and connect riders to a Citi Bike terminal and the B61 and the B63 buses.

The ferry is also “storm resilient” and quickly went back into service after Hurricane Sandy, officials said, making it a good transit option for the two communities, which are located in storm flood zones.

As of Tuesday, the EDC had not yet responded to the letter, officials said.

In a statement, EDC spokesman Ian Fried said the city was considering several possible sites for future stops.

"We are thrilled that so many New Yorkers enjoy utilizing ferry service, and we are always searching for ways to improve its utility for New Yorkers," he said.

"We will continue to examine these locations and other potential sites across the City as we consider opportunities to expand ferry service in the future."