The good news/bad news on the water taxi keeps rolling in.
The latest good news (via this press release) is that the City Council is funding a new water taxi service between Far Rockaway and Lower Manhattan, with service starting May 12. On the North Brooklyn front, the City has secured federal funds to build new docking facilities in Northside Williamsburg and Greenpoint as part of expanded water taxi service on the East River. And, the City is ponying up $1.25 million to construct a new launch facility at Schaefer Landing.
The bad news? Well, service on the East River (Schaefer and Long Island City) won’t resume until July (you may recall that it was supposed to resume in May, er June). And the expanded service (which I presume will include a landing at the Edge and Northside Piers) won’t start up for another two years. Presumably between now and then the new residents in the Northside waterfront district will find a way to squeeze on the L train. When its running.
Actually, there is even more good news (really) in the press release. First, the MTA is studying how to connect bus service to the ferry landings, and second, EDC is working with the Real Estate Board to find “ways for impacted developers to support the East River ferry service” (I think both of these are very good ideas). Further, with the help of federal funding, a water taxi stop will be added to Roosevelt Island.
Issues of local timing (and false promises) aside, this package of funding and service expansions is good news for the long-term viability of ferry service in New York City. By subsidizing the expansion of service, the city (and feds) will hopefully create a critical mass of ridership that will sustain commuter ferry service on something more than a seasonal basis. Hopefully too, this will result in the critical mass necessary to make fares more affordable to more New Yorkers (under the current plans, the Rockaway Service will be capped at $6 each way – only a dollar more than the 10 minute trip from Schaefer Landing to Lower Manhattan). Hopefully, too, these subsidies will be enough to keep New York Water Taxi afloat – but their ability to run an efficient and successful business remains a big question mark in all of this.