This week, Coney Island residents started a petition, aimed at Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, for a stop on the newly opened NYC Ferry that could save locals more than an hour each commute.
The petition’s three stated goals are 1) To prove to the City of New York that a major demand for Coney Island Ferry service currently exists. 2) The formation of a Coney Island route to be incorporated under Citywide Ferry and 3) A ferry landing to be built along the Coney Island Creek.
The ferry, which opened its ‘South Brooklyn’ route on June 1, takes riders to and from Bay Ridge, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Rockaway to Wall Street for $2.75 — thanks to subsidies from the City. But the routes completely bypass Coney Island, which has infuriated local politicians and more than a few residents.
“I urge you to sign this petition if you care about Coney Island,” writes petitioner Peter Ioannou. As of publication, the petition boasts 320 out of 500 signatures needed to send to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Andrew Genn of the NYC Economic Development Corporation.
When originally considering the neighborhood for a ferry stop in 2012, the EDC presented a few potential hurdles, including the need for a barrier to protect the pier from waves, navigating the oft-contaminated Coney Island Creek, building new docs, and adding a shuttle from the ferry to the amusement park.
And while reps from the NYC EDC have said that a Coney Island stop isn’t off the table for future expansions, many community members say they’ve waited long enough.
“We have a growing coalition of support, in Coney Island and beyond, who believe the time has come that this growing area gets more transit options,” said City Council Member Mark Treyger. “We will not stop our advocacy until it happens under this mayor’s watch.”
Residents argue that the EDC data from their feasibility study is outdated, not taking into account the neighborhood’s higher population, development, increased tourism, and more daily MTA commuters than Rockaway.
And not everyone is content to watch the ferry sail by Coney Island on its way to Rockaway Beach all summer.
“It’s a slap in the face to have a ferry you can almost touch but neglect Coney Island,” said Daniel Ioannou, a 25-year-old student and member of a small advocacy group called Coney Islanders 4 Ferry, told BKLYNER last month.
“Coney Island might not have Wall Street bankers, but we have the workers that make this city run,” said Ioannou. “A high-speed ferry service would enhance the job market.”
The ferry stop would also serve as a much-needed emergency evacuation option, the petition states. “I don’t understand why we would be skipped,” said Assemblymember Pamela Harris. “Our neighborhood is transit-starved. We’re on a peninsula surrounded by water, with well over 55,000 residents who only have one way in one way our surrounded by water.”
Eddie Mark, district manager for Community Board 13, though upset about getting overlooked, is looking on the bright side. “Sometimes it’s good not to be first so they can figure out the kinks…Everything works in time and we’re happy if we’re in the next phase,” he said.
“In the last five to ten years, Coney Island has been changing and a lot of residents are unsure how that change will affect them,” said Mark. But adding public transit options is an example of the kind of development that would serve longtime residents too, rather than just keeping an eye out for private developers and tourists.
“It’s the best thing for Coney Island, for the price of a metro card,” he said.
“We’re currently focusing our efforts on initial rollout of NYC Ferry for this year and in 2018,” said NYCEDC spokesperson Stephanie Báez. “If ridership demand is high and service is successful, then we may be able to consider other opportunities for expansion to more communities, including Coney Island.”
Updated 7/17 to include quote from NYCEDC spokesperson.