Ferry service at the India Street Pier was restored at approximately 4 p.m. on Monday following an abrupt three day pause in service casuing confusion for East River commuters.
Last week, an issue involving insurance documents between Hornblower, the operator of the NYC ferry, and the new landlord of 18 India St., Lendlease, a multinational construction company based in Australia, resulted in the pier’s temporary closure. Lendlease explained the situation to Gothamist:
“We’ve had to temporarily restrict ferry access to the India Street Pier while we await the ferry service operator, Hornblower, to furnish appropriate insurance documentation, expected today,” the company said in a statement. “We understand the inconvenience the ferry service disruption has caused and are working diligently to help resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”
The city’s Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-private agency that runs the city’s ferry system with Hornblower, said they were working to restore service there as early as Tuesday morning.
Without prior notification of the pause in ferry service, East River commuters were surprised to see the ferry bypass Greenpoint, but all returned to normal by Monday afternoon when service was restored.
SERVICE UPDATE – Service to Greenpoint Ferry Landing Resumes 4:00 PM— NYC Ferry (@NYCferry) October 19, 2020
After an earlier temporary closure, service to the Greenpoint/India Street ferry landing will resume at 4:00 PM. Shuttle bus service to Hunters Point South will end at 3:50 PM. Thank you for your patience.
“The shutdown of the Greenpoint @nycferry stop was unacceptable & created an pointless bottleneck for commuters,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney tweeted, “I’m glad to hear that service has been restored for NYers on the go!”
Since the NYC Ferry’s launch in 2017, The NYC Economic Development Corporation has subsidized ferry service to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, THE CITY reports:
The ferry system racked up $53 million in net costs for EDC in fiscal year 2020, the new numbers indicate, as it did in 2019. The watchdog Citizens Budget Commission a year ago calculated that with passengers paying just $2.75 a ride, each ferry trip costs the government $9.34 a ride.
There has always been money available to support this and other new ferry services. 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.
Riding a ferry can be less stressful than pre COVID-19 being packed in a subway car like sardines in a can or stuck on a bus running late in traffic not moving. .
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for over $1 billion in grants which paid for various bus and ferry NYC Department of Transportation private bus franchised operators and Staten Island Ferry system capital projects and programs)
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