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New Ferry Dock Provides Quick Ride to Upper East Side From Astoria

Photo: Courtesy of EDC

Aug. 20, 2020 By Christian Murray

Western Queens residents looking to get to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in a hurry will soon be able to take the ferry.

The NYC Economic Development Corp. announced today that it has extended the NYC Ferry’s Astoria route to serve East 90th Street. The new connection will go into effect Saturday.

The East 90th Street stop is just 4 minutes from the Astoria dock at Hallets Cove. The Astoria route also connects with Long Island City, which will be just 18 minutes from East 90th Street.

The Astoria route—which was introduced in 2017– currently connects to Manhattan at 34th Street and Wall Street but only after a number of stops. Riders looking to get uptown are required to take the subway.

The addition follows years of advocacy from civic leaders such as Richard Khuzami, the president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association. His organization launched petitions and helped get elected officials to rally behind it.

“Establishing additional connections and cutting travel time between neighborhoods and job centers is what NYC Ferry is all about,” said James Patchett, President and CEO of New York City Economic Development Corporation, in a statement.

The new connection was lauded by leaders of the Astoria Houses NYCHA complex, which is located by the Astoria dock at Hallets Cove.

“This vital NYC Ferry connection between Astoria and Manhattan is an important step in connecting Western Queens residents – many of whom are essential workers at our city’s hospitals and medical institutions – directly to employment, education, and cultural opportunities that until now required an onerous commute,” Claudia Coger, President of Astoria Houses Tenant Association, said.

Currently, fares on a NYC ferry ride cost $2.75.

The new Astoria Route with the addition of East 90th Street (NYC Ferry)

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Larry Penner

There has always been money available to support this new ferry service. All Mayor Bill de Blasio had to do was ask NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to submit grant applications to both the Federal Transit Administration Passenger Ferry Program and New York State Department of Transportation.

Why not apply for capital grants from the New York State Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration to assist in funding? NYC DOT does this and receives millions on an annual basis on behalf of the Staten Island Ferry. Albany also provides State Transportation Operating Assistance for transportation systems such as the Staten Island Ferry along with local share against federal grants. Ridership on any transit service generates yearly federal transportation formula capital assistance. Numerous past private ferry operators have come and gone. They could not financially survive based upon farebox revenue alone without government subsidy. MTA local and express bus, subway and commuter rail along with NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry is subsidized by a combination of City, State and Federal assistance for both capital and operating costs. All of the existing and future NYC Economic Development Corporation Private Ferry routes will require similar subsidies if they are to survive.

Riders could purchase weekly or monthly passes for discounted fares. These could be supplemented by using Transit Checks which will further reduce the cost per ride.

Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can or stuck on a bus running late in traffic not moving.

(Larry Penner — transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus, NYC DOT Staten Island Ferry along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).

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