downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 50 | April 27 - May 3, 2007

Yonkers ferries to begin with free rides in May

Instead of exhaust fumes, commuters from southern Westchester to Lower Manhattan will soon be able to breathe Hudson breezes. Instead of tailpipes, they can gaze at the Palisades.

Those are two of the reasons that instead of driving, commuters should take the new water ferry from Yonkers to Lower Manhattan that’s beginning service on May 1, according to Tom Fox, president of New York Water Taxi.

“It’s a very civilized way to get to work,” said Fox. “It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your mental health.”

The ferry will be free in May. Starting in June, a one-way ticket will cost $12, a 10-trip book $110, and a 40-trip book $400.

The ferry will take 45 minutes to go from Yonkers to the World Financial Center in Battery Park City and then 12 more minutes to swing over to Pier 11/Wall St. at Wall St. and South St.

The service will operate during rush hours, Mon. through Fri., from 5:50 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Two vessels, which hold 149 passengers each, will make the trip between Yonkers and Lower Manhattan. They’ll be equipped with low-wake hulls to minimize environmental impact, 42” flat screen televisions tuned to the news and hospital grade mufflers to reduce noise, according to Fox. They’ll also sell food and drinks at a cafe and bar.

“It’s a more premium service,” said David Simpson, spokesperson for Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, “but people are going to get what they’re paying for.”

Fox said he hoped 300 people per day would ride the ferry within two years and that more people from Westchester would begin coming to Lower Manhattan for pleasure, not just for work.

Residents of southern Westchester who use public transportation have relied on the Metro-North rail line. The train takes 15 minutes longer to get to Midtown than the ferry to Lower Manhattan. Metro-North also costs slightly less at $8.60 and requires a subway transfer to get Downtown.

Plans for the Yonkers-Lower Manhattan ferry line were initially proposed three years ago. In May 2006, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation approved $4.2 million in federal funding for the project. Yonkers was cited in a 2003 L.M.D.C. study as a good candidate for ferry service, because it intersects with the Metro-North line, making it more accessible to commuters. The Port Authority then approved a bid to provide the ferry service by New York Water Taxi. “This is a very important model for public-private partnerships,” Fox said.

Besides providing an alternative for commuters going to Lower Manhattan, the deal benefits Yonkers, which wants to develop its Hudson River waterfront. “It’s a perfect marriage between two growing economies,” Simpson said.

With the service from Yonkers ready to launch, Fox said plans are now in the works to connect a new ferry service in Haverstraw, Rockland County, to Lower Manhattan. The service schedule is at nywatertaxi.com.


— Chris Bragg





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