Extra ‘Ferry $$’ will not add more Bronx stops

“We have the ferry coming to Clason Point, which is great, so the expansion (to Ferry Point Park) would be a very minimal investment.” – Councilman Mark Gjonaj

A proposed increase in NYC ferry service funding won’t mean additional stops in the borough just yet.

The ferry at Clason Point in Soundview is expected to become operational sometime this summer, but news that the city’s executive budget allocated $300 million over the next several years for ferry infrastructure reinforcement and expansion will not lead to additional docks in the Bronx.

A NYC Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman stated that the planned expansion recently announced is designed “to meet current and future demand projected for the current system, which includes the Soundview route launching this summer.”

Councilman Mark Gjonaj said that the ferry service for Ferry Point was his “one ask” in terms of his district in the Fiscal Year 2019 city budget negotiations, and that he is advocating for additional stops and routes with the Council Speaker Corey Johnson, including a dock at Ferry Point.

“(The funds) are not going towards the expansion of ferry service into Ferry Point Park, which is a transportation desert when it comes to travel options,” said Gjonaj. “This is my number one focus as far as a district ask.”

Gjonaj said the importance and need of expanding ferry service is significant and “would mean so much to many.”

The councilman added it “mindboggling” that the (de Blasio) administration is not embracing expansion, which wouldn’t be costly.

“We have the ferry coming to Clason Point, which is great, so the expansion would be a very minimal investment,” said Gjonaj, adding that if the ferry service to Ferry Point was not successful, it could easily be canceled.

He and many of his colleagues believe that since the city’s ferry service has been successful so far, additional stops should be created, said the councilman.

Ferry service to Ferry Point Park would make sense for a variety of reasons, said Dotti Poggi of the Friends of Ferry Point Park.

She said she believes it would be a good place for a ferry because bus stops servicing other parts of the borough are nearby, there’s a large parking lot and a new comfort station in the park.

A road has also been constructed that leads to the waterfront, she added.

“I believe that right now that the Soundview ferry is a great asset and I think within a couple of years they are going to have one at Ferry Point,” said Poggi.

Poggi said she also believes that a Ferry Point ferry could take some riders off the subways, easing overcrowding.

According to a source at EDC, after the launch of the Soundview ferry, EDC plans to commence a feasibility study in the fall to examine what additional communities NYC Ferry can expand to in the future.

Other site suggestions for ferry service are being floated, including at Orchard Beach.

Paul Klein of the City Island Chamber of Commerce said the organization has continually advocated for extending ferry service, and that Orchard Beach would be a good location because it has a several thousand car parking lot that is under-utilized throughout most of the year.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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