Soon, more passengers will be able to ride the shuttle to Throggs Neck’s NYC Ferry landing, which turns a 10-minute walk into a 1-minute ride.
The new Ferry Point Park stop was unveiled in December, extending the Soundview route northward — which stops along the east side of Manhattan spanning down to Wall Street’s Pier 11. The fare costs $2.75, the same as the subway, and the operation is heavily subsidized by the city.
The Throggs Neck ferry landing is the second location in the Bronx, after Soundview.
While the new stop was championed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio as a game changer for commuters, some were unpleasantly surprised to find out that the ferry landing is about a half-mile away from the stop’s parking lot. But waterside weekday commuters have enjoyed a free shuttle carrying passengers from inside the park entrance to the ferry landing, from 5 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
As the commuters packed the shuttle from the landing to the park entrance on Friday evening, they all started talking at once when asked why they take the ferry.
“Because it’s awesome!” one passenger declared.
Akeyla Dominguez, who sat in front beside shuttle driver Rosemary Griffith, said using the ferry adds an extra 30 minutes each way to her route compared to the subway.
“It’s worth it,” she added. “I don’t mind. It’s completely worth it.”
Dominguez likes that there’s no traffic, it feels safer than the train and it’s easy to social distance on the boat. Ultimately, it makes commuting peaceful, she said.
More ferry users will be able to try the shuttle, but it’s unclear when exactly, and for how long.
“Our & (Councilmember) Marjorie Velázquez’s offices have been receiving questions about extending shuttle bus operations to & from the ferry dock at Ferry Point Park,” Community Board 10 shared on Facebook. “We have some news… NYCEDC (New York City Economic Development Corporation) tells us that the shuttle will begin operating at ALL hours of ferry operations starting in April! Thank you for the info NYCEDC.”
But the Bronx Times has learned from the city Economic Development Corporation that there isn’t actually a start date yet for the expanded operations, other than “sometime in April,” and the expanded hours aren’t permanent, but rather a trial run.
“As it generally takes some time for ridership to build after the opening of a new landing, NYC Ferry will evaluate ridership performance throughout the spring and summer to determine the appropriate service span for the shuttle,” an EDC spokesperson told the Bronx Times.
The shuttle currently being used is not wheelchair-accessible but will be replaced by a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle that will hold fewer passengers.
A ferry spokesperson and an EDC spokesperson both told the Bronx Times the current shuttle seats 15 passengers and the new one will seat about 11, but the Bronx Times found that the shuttle was crammed Friday evening with a maximum of 13 passengers.
On Friday evening, Griffith honked at unsuspecting pedestrians when they were in the way of the vehicle, unintentionally startling some parkgoers. The vehicle operates on a walking path and Griffith said it’s going to get busy once summer rolls along and more people exercise along the route.
While Griffith takes multiple trips as needed, she usually makes her last trip to the ferry about 8 minutes before the boat’s arrival — something for last-minute planners to keep in mind.
The shuttle itself was busy on Friday, with two to three people squeezed into each of the four rows and another person beside Griffith in the passenger seat. Those who can’t fit either decide to get their steps in or wait for Griffith to swing back to get them on a second trip.
Most of the passengers are regulars who use the ferry to commute to and from work and school, according to Griffith. While she doesn’t know them by name, she knows them by their cars. They call her Rose, and even let her know when they’re going away on vacation.
Griffith said she sees some people ride bicycles and scooters to the ferry, but most people drive, utilizing the free parking lot, or get dropped off and picked up by a car.
Non-commuters take the ferry on Friday evening for a night out in Manhattan, Griffith said. She knows if riders are “newbies” when they don’t know how to open the shuttle doors.
“I think a lot of people are taking this now because they don’t want to take the trains, which I don’t blame them,” Griffith said. “Now you don’t know what you’re going to get with these trains.”
She thinks people take the ferry for a “peaceful and safe ride,” which she boasted begins on the shuttle.
Griffith, who loves her job, said the waterfront view is nice, but the people are nicer.
“I call this my spiritual bus,” she said.
Reach Aliya Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.