Its 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 Councils Transportation Committee, sees the ferry program as a return to the citys 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
weve heard that the administration has had a change of heart, he said.
As if citywide ferry service wasnt enough of a change, on Wednesday the City Council also passed a bill requiring New York Citys 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Diesel fuel and outdated technologies are a terrible source of pollution, Gerson said in a statement.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