About two years ago, John Catsimatides, a well-known supermarket and fuel distribution mogul who knows a few shipowners, was running for mayor of New York. He failed to advance very far, but his idea for a network of ferries around New York City (with four of the five boroughs geographically part of islands) has gained traction with the current administration.
In early February, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a bold plan for a network of waterborne passenger ferries that would provide new links in a city where the mid-20th century infrastructure struggles to support demand. Ferry services that already exist around the waterfront include the iconic Staten Island ferry (city run), the East River Ferry (run by New York Waterway) and New York Water Taxi (tied to the Durst real estate organization), which runs a ferry between Manhattan and Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has now issued an RFP, which envisions a ferry network that will eventually connect the outer reaches of the city with the city’s central areas in downtown and midtown Manhattan. During 2017 and 2018, the city hopes to start services (operated by qualified concessionaires) on the routes linking Rockaway, South Brooklyn (Red Hook) and Astoria first, followed by runs to the Bronx (Soundview) and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Importantly, passenger fares are aligned with New York’s subways and busses, at $2.75 per ride.
The city is also going to look at various landing sites to build. Proposals for ferry operation are due in mid-June, with information sessions scheduled for mid- and late-April.