Earlier this week, I greeted my work day aboard the upper deck of the East River Ferry, which just started service from Greenpoint’s brand new India St. Pier. My fellow passengers and I lined the ships railings like wide-eyed pilgrims, taking in the curious wonders of the shoreline as we passed. We arrived at 34th street in under ten minutes, our sea legs barely earned.
Once in Manhattan however, the connecting shuttle bus detailed on the pier’s ferry map failed to materialize and I ended up walking the twenty or so blocks to my midtown office. I did eye some possible pre-ferry/after work watering holes within the squeaky clean blocks of Murray Hill (Pinetree Lodge you may have a Greenpoint regular). I would recommend bringing your bike as the travel options from that far east on the island are pretty limited and are not eligible for a transfer. Over all the experience was pleasant but not entirely practical.
The weekend service was a different story. On Saturday, my girlfriend and I waited for twenty-five minutes amongst a growing crowd on the pier, which was shadeless and hot in the mid-morning sun. The boat eventually docked and soon a ferryman approached us from the opposite side of the gate. “Only 6 of you…” He told the crowd of about fifty, a dozen of them a group of teenage bicyclists perhaps hoping to spend the day riding and picnicking on the lush greens of Governors Island. The lucky few hurried on board, the rest of us left to wait another half-hour on the pier, or to give up entirely.
I’m sure ridership will drop-off significantly once NY Waterways begins charging four-dollars a ride and I do understand that they need a few weeks to work out the kinks (they’ve already issued and advisory addressing capacity issues), but their slogan “Relax. We’ll get you there.” might take some time to stick. Our neighborhood has been underserviced for a long time and the Ferry is certainly part of the solution, but it may take some coordination with the MTA before a sea voyage becomes a practical part of many Greenpointers commutes.