downtownexpress.com

Volume 20, Number 40 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 15 - 21 , 2008

Ferry good news

It’s been a good week for ferries.

First, Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced in her state of the city address that she and Mayor Mike Bloomberg want to create a citywide, year-round ferry system. The idea started with a pilot ferry program for the Rockaways, which will be up and running this summer, but Quinn described widespread ferry service that would shorten commuting times throughout the city.

“Think of how it will enhance our infrastructure, open up our waterfronts and create jobs,” she said Tuesday. The Queens service is likely to include stops in Lower Manhattan

John Liu, chairperson of the Council’s Transportation Committee, sees the ferry program as a return to the city’s historical reliance on waterways to transport people and goods.

“For the last 100 years, we kind of lost sight of the value of the waterways,” Liu told Downtown Express. “So this is reclaiming this lost natural resource of the waterways of the city.”

In the past, the administration has not seen ferries as a viable form of mass transit, Liu said. “But today…we’ve heard that the administration has had a change of heart,” he said.

As if citywide ferry service wasn’t enough of a change, on Wednesday the City Council also passed a bill requiring New York City’s public ferries to use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, which is less polluting than standard diesel. The bill, put forth by Councilmember Alan Gerson, would also require the Staten Island and other ferries to employ emissions-reduction technology.

“Diesel fuel and outdated technologies are a terrible source of pollution,” Gerson said in a statement. “With ferry services being expanded around the harbor, I felt that it was critically important to deal with this issue.”

New York Waterway, a private company that runs many commuter ferries between New York and New Jersey, is not affected by the legislation. The company currently uses a mixture of ultra low sulfur and regular diesel fuel, said Gary Davis, head of marketing. The only obstacle to retrofitting the ferries is price: Ultra low sulfur diesel fuel costs an extra 17 cents a gallon, Davis said.

— Julie Shapiro and Paul Schindler





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