New Service Bodes Well for NY Waterway Crews

City Announces Expanded East River Ferry Operation

March 2011

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SIU members employed by NY Waterway will operate passenger ferries in an expanded East River service scheduled to launch this spring, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced in early February.


The program reportedly comes with $9 million in guaranteed city funds and a pledge to continue the service for at least three years. The contract for this initiative was awarded to BillyBey Ferry Co., which utilizes Seafarers-contracted NY Waterway to operate 16 ferries, all under the NY Waterway logo. Employing more than 100 SIU members, NY Waterway is the nation’s largest private ferry operator and currently transports approximately 30,000 riders each day.


SIU Vice President Atlantic Coast Joseph Soresi said that while it is too soon to know whether the new service will add jobs at NY Waterway, “at minimum it should mean a solid opportunity for steady work for the next three years, and that’s in addition to NY Waterway’s other routes. This is front-page news in New York and it is certainly good news for our union.”


In the official announcement, the NYCEDC and City Council said, “Delivering on Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn’s vision for a sustainable city, the service will provide a new transportation option to residents of emerging Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods, and will provide a link to some of the city’s most exciting recreation destinations.”


The service will operate in both directions and make seven regular stops along the East River, with two additional summer stops. A free, dedicated bus service will be part of the new ferry system. The overall initiative is part of larger project titled Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy, a citywide plan launched by Bloomberg and Quinn.


“Many of New York City’s fastest growing neighborhoods, like Williamsburg and Long Island City, have tremendous waterfront access, and we want to capitalize on that by providing a new, sustainable transportation option for residents,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “By launching regular ferry service every 20 minutes, with stops in Midtown and Lower Manhattan and summertime stops at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island, we’ll create a transportation alternative while spurring private investment along the waterfront.”


“Using the waterway to connect New Yorkers to business districts as well as recreation destinations will encourage economic activity and growth on both sides of the East River,” said NYCEDC President Pinsky. “This robust, regular service will be well-integrated with existing transportation options, providing a new sustainable and enjoyable way for commuters and tourists alike to get around the City.”


The service will operate year-round from approximately 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. New ferry landings are under construction at the North Williamsburg and Greenpoint sites to complete the infrastructure needed for starting the service this spring.


“We want to thank New York City for giving us the opportunity to provide East River commuters with the same unparalleled level of safety, reliability and convenience we have established for Hudson River commuters,” said BillyBey Ferry Company co-owner and CEO Paul Goodman.

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