Thanks to New York City’s investment in a brand-new citywide ferry network, waterfront communities are flourishing with shorter and smoother commutes and a wave of economic activity.
Serving close to 10 million riders since launching in May 2017, NYC Ferry has almost single-handedly opened the Astoria neighborhood to the rest of New York City, doubling the annual attendance at many of our attractions and cultural institutions like Socrates Sculpture Park and the Welling Court Mural Project, providing Queens residents with reliable and efficient ferry service across the City’s waterways.
One of the most attractive aspects of a ferry service, unlike other large transportation infrastructure projects, is its ability to be nimble. The routes can be adjusted to accommodate a changing workforce and development landscape. The more connections, the better, as access to transit options improves overall quality of life, which is why we hope the city will throw a ferry life line directly from Astoria to the Upper East Side.
A distance equivalent to three, short city blocks lies between the Astoria landing in Halletts Cove and the East 90th Street landing across the East River on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but currently no direct NYC Ferry connection exists. Both sides of the river have advocated for a ferry connection, which is an easy fix, as the infrastructure exists at both landings.
This has been brought to the attention of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which is not planning to consider new, additional routes until 2021. However, this isn’t a new route. It’s merely a new logical and necessary connection.
EDC should recognize that with a simple green light, millions of New Yorkers will have a less than five-minute connection between Astoria and the Upper East Side, saving in excess of a 45-minute headache-inducing, subway-plus-bus commute. The connection would reduce the number of cars sitting in traffic on local streets, as well as enable easy access to the heralded Second Avenue Subway, allowing businesses to prosper, and spur additional growth.
Connecting the two sides of the river would bring about cultural and employment benefits, including easier access to work opportunities, particularly at the East Side hospitals and educational institutions, and will enhance recreational opportunities for people throughout the boroughs. A connection to the Upper East Side would also be welcomed with fanfare from the locals of Roosevelt Island and the growing tech community at Cornell.
We urge the City to approve the connection so New Yorkers can hop on board and enjoy smooth sailing, short commutes, and maximize the benefits for our residents and communities. It only makes sense to bridge the boroughs, which will quicken travel time and lessen traffic, leading to a happier and healthier New York City.
Tom Grech, President & Chief Executive Officer, Queens Chamber of Commerce. On Twitter @tomgrech.