The Lunch Box has landed.
The first NYC Ferry vessel was christened Monday at the Brooklyn Bridge, where Mayor Bill de Blasio presided over the naming the first of the fleet. Lunch Box was the moniker chosen by second grade students at P.S. 170 in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood.
After docking at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the first boat delivered by Horizon Shipbuilding Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala., was christened by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. The ceremony included a reading of "Sailor’s Paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm," by Chaplain Ann Kansfield of the Fire Department City of New York .
Three more of the 86’x29’ ferries from Horizon and Metal Shark, Franklin, La. recently arrived after a nearly 2,000-mile transit from the Gulf Coast. First service on the Rockaway and East River lines starts May 1, with other routes coming June 1 and Aug. 1.
The city Economic Development Corporation’s promotional campaign included soliciting suggestions for ferry names from the city’s elementary school children — hence the Bay Ridge students’ metaphorical choice for the boxy Incat Crowther design.
Student Jannat Moghal explained to radio station WNYC that the class liked Lunch Box because “you can put different foods in a lunch box, and there's different people from different countries in New York.”
That plays too with an egalitarian goal of the new public ferry system, subsidized by the city to the same fare as the city subway system. De Blasio said Monday’s dedication represented “what this new citywide ferry service represents: greater opportunity for every New Yorker, from the Rockaways to the Bronx, and at just $2.75 a ride.”
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) April 17, 2017
The same morning that de Blasio took a spin on the Lunch Box, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and private ferry pioneer Arthur E. Imperatore announced NY Waterway will inaugurate its first Staten Island service, with a direct connection from St. George on the island’s North Shore to the West 39th Street terminal at Midtown Manhattan.
The high-speed service will get passengers to Midtown in about 25 minutes, the same time the public Staten Island Ferry takes to cross to the Whitehall terminal in downtown Manhattan. Imperatore said the idea has been incubating in discussions for four years.
“NY Waterway has a 99%-plus on-time performance record, the most reliable mass transit system in the metropolitan area,” said Imperatore, who earlier spoke of his plans for a North Shore to Midtown route in a 2016 interview with WorkBoat. “Staten Islanders will know with certainty when they will get to work — and more importantly, when they will get home.”
It will take about a year to finalize the plan and build a dock for the service. Parking will be provided by other partners – including New York Wheel, and BFC Partners and Triangle Equities, developers of Empire Outlets and Lighthouse Point in St. George.
“The new ferry service provides current and future developments and businesses, including Lighthouse Point, a major benefit and only solidifies St. George as a viable option to live, work and visit,” said Triangle CEO Lester Petracca.
Those new waterfront developments could bring 2,000 new jobs and $1.6 billion to Staten Island's North Shore, according to EDC president James Patchett.
Community leaders see expanded ferry services as a potential boon to Staten Islanders, who have fewer commuting options compared to the city’s other boroughs. It now takes Staten Island commuters as long as two hours to reach Midtown workplaces. Oddo said borough officials are still pushing for NYC Ferry connections as that public system develops but will push other possibilities in the meantime.
“This is not the answer to all our traffic or commuting woes. But this has been a successful collaboration, entirely outside of citywide government, between us at Borough Hall and the private sector, to get Staten Islanders the possibility of a better commute,” Oddo said in announcing the plan. “Let me be clear, this does not negate the City’s obligations to our borough in its ‘5 Borough (since renamed ‘Citywide,’ but still inaccurate) Ferry Service at a subsidized fare. That fight continues.”