Found in Yonkers: Lower Manhattan ferry commuters


By Ronda Kaysen

Harbor traffic around Lower Manhattan should increase in January when new ferry service begins from Yonkers to the World Financial Center and Pier 11.

Commuters from southern Westchester might soon have a watery ride to Lower Manhattan, with a new ferry service carrying them to Battery Park City and Pier 11 on the East River.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. approved $4.2 million in financing last week for a ferry service that would link Yonkers to a new Battery Park City terminal near the World Financial Center and Pier 11 near Wall St. Service would begin next January when the Battery Park City terminal opens.

“We’re excited about this,” L.M.D.C. president Stefan Pryor said in a telephone interview.

Yonkers was singled out in a 2003 L.M.D.C. transportation analysis because it intersects with a Metro-North line, making it accessible to more commuters.

“One of our objectives in pursuing the revitalization of Lower Manhattan is to ensure that businesses have adequate access to the labor pool of the region,” said Pryor. “Ferry service is promising as a strategy because Lower Manhattan is surrounded by water on three sides.”

A portion of the L.M.D.C. money could also be used for additional ferry service from Haverstraw in Rockland County, if funds are available.

More than 40,000 people a day take ferries to Lower Manhattan, arriving from Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey estimates several hundred commuters would opt for a 45-minute ferry ride from Westchester to B.P.C., welcome news to Downtown business leaders. It will take about 12 minutes for the ferry to swing around Lower Manhattan to Wall St.’s Pier 11. Currently, there is no one-seat ride Downtown from Westchester. Commuters either drive or take Metro North and switch to a subway at Grand Central in Midtown.

“Commuter accessibility has always been a high priority issue for the businesses Downtown,” Eric Deutsch, Downtown Alliance president, said in a telephone interview. “Whatever we can do to increase the draw for employers and their employees [to Lower Manhattan] certainly helps.”

The Port is in the final stages of building a $60 million permanent ferry terminal in Battery Park City, and has long anticipated the possibility of ferry service from Westchester.

“That’s been in the planning stages for a long time, so it’s not going to change anything,” said Port spokesperson Steve Coleman.

The Port might award a 2-year contract to a ferry operator at its May 25 meeting. New York Waterway and New York Water Taxi have both expressed interest in the service, which could cost riders $400 a month.


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