CHELSEA — Manhattan's West Side has been left in the wake by the mayor’s plan for citywide ferry service, a group of politicians and officials claim.
On Wednesday, a group of advocates led by chairman or the City Council's Transportation Committee, Ydanis Rodriguez, and Councilman Mark Levine called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to add a Hudson River ferry to his list of five new ferry routes coming to the city.
“A ferry network with stops on the West Side of Manhattan and uptown would help reduce crowding on the increasingly over-packed 1 and A trains, remove hundreds of fumes-spewing vehicles from our streets and help stimulate economic activity,” Levine said in a statement.
“As New York City embarks on a new era of ferry expansion, the West Side and our northern Manhattan communities should not be forgotten,” he added.
Under the current plan, commuters will be able to pay the equivalent of a MetroCard swipe to travel by ferry from Astoria, southern Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach to Lower Manhattan starting in 2017. Additionally, residents of Soundview in The Bronx and Manhattan’s Lower East Side will gain ferry access to the Wall Street area in 2018, according to the city's Economic Development Corporation.
The agency said it looked into including ferry service on the West Side but a study did not support it.
"Our analysis indicates a north-south Hudson route would have a hard time attracting commuters away from existing and more accessible subway service and could face real logistical and financial challenges,” said EDC spokesman Anthony Hogrebe.
The agency is open to working with officials or community organizations on future expansions but said it would need to see a significant demand for it. Specifically, new routes would have to be "competitive with existing transit options," Hogrebe added.
Elected officials have lamented the West Side's exclusion from the mayor’s plans since the new ferry routes were announced last February.
In May, a group of politicians including Levine called for a ferry that would embark from Lower Manhattan and travel up to Dyckman Street in Inwood, making stops along the Hudson River at 39th Street, the West Harlem Piers at 125th Street and the George Washington Bridge at 178th Street.
A spokesman for Levine said Wednesday that the politicians’ latest push for ferry service is meant to focus less on specific stops — aside from 125th street, “since the infrastructure is already there” — and instead “highlight that the West Side hasn’t been included at all, and should be included and integrated into the plans.”
Others, like Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance president and CEO Roland Lewis, have called for routes connecting southern Staten Island and Coney Island to Lower Manhattan as well. Councilman Andrew Cohen from The Bronx previously called for a ferry stop in Riverdale.
Officials pointed out the need for West Side ferry service, given the development taking place at both the Hudson Yards and Columbia University.
Councilman Corey Johnson, who represents Chelsea, said that population growth on the West Side has created a “huge need for alternative transit.”
“As the mayor and NYCEDC shape this crucial service, they should know that it would be a very effective and welcome addition to West Side transportation,” he said in a statement.