Bronx politicians are looking to the city's waterways to ease the long commute many borough residents endure, as they're asking the mayor to start ferry service from the borough to Manhattan. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
The plan is to bring ferry service to a residential neighborhood of the Bronx. The closest train station to the Soundview/Classon Point/Harding Park neighborhoods is in Parkchester, about a 20 minute bus ride away.
"A lot of these folks have to pay two fares in order to get to Midtown, and they wind up taking over an hour and a half or two hours to get there," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Bronx politicians want to ease that burden by adding the Bronx to an existing ferry line that travels the East River. They're asking the mayor for a three-year pilot program that costs about $10 million. That may sound like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket when compared to creating an alternative.
"We can't build a subway system to Soundview and Ferry Point. That would be billions and billions and billions of dollars," said Roland Lewis, CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. "We can use the water that surrounds those neighborhoods."
The logistics haven't been figured out yet, but experts say the ferry would leave from near the Shorehaven condominiums and could cost $4, the same as the East River ferry.
It would also be subsidized by the city, as is all public transportation. Right now, the city puts $3 million a year towards the operation of the East River ferry in the form of subsidies.
"It will be a deficit operation, too, so the question is whether the city is prepared to provide for that deficit," said Jeffrey Zupan, a senior transportation fellow for the Regional Planning Association.
But why Soundview, when residents who live in many neighborhoods along the eastern side of the Bronx experience similarly long commutes? Studies by several agencies found Soundview to be the most promising of potential Bronx ferry locations.
Elected officials are confident that the Soundview Ferry will pave the way for more.
"Co-Op City, Throgs Neck, Soundview, all on the East Bronx waterfront," said City Councilman James Vacca of the Bronx. "It's a waterfront that's not used. They're transit-starved neighborhoods. It makes perfect sense to service all those communities."
Finally linking all of the Bronx and its residents to the other four boroughs by the city's blue highways.