New ferry links Downtown to the Far West Side

Photo courtesy of New York Water Taxi The new ferry route passes near the Intrepid Museum.
Photo courtesy of New York Water Taxi
The new ferry route passes near the Intrepid Museum.

BY SAM SPOKONY  | Bridging the transportation gap between two of the city’s fastest growing communities, a new ferry service now takes commuters from the Far West Side to Lower Manhattan in just 15 minutes.

New York Water Taxi on May 19 launched its Westside Ferry, which runs during weekday rush hours between Hudson River Park’s Pier 84, at West 44th St., and Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center), on Vesey St. in Battery Park City, just minutes away from the World Trade Center and the Financial District.

“As more and more New Yorkers live and work on the waterfront, ferries will be a critical link in the region’s transportation network,” Helena Durst, president of New York Water Taxi, at a May 19 event celebrating the inaugural ride.

The new ferry will include six daily trips — three during the morning rush hour and three during the evening, with both groups running in 15-minute intervals. Morning service begins at 7:40 a.m. departing from Brookfield Place, and at 8 a.m. departing from Pier 84; and evening service begins at 4:45 p.m. departing from Brookfield Place, and at 5:05 p.m. departing from Pier 84. The schedule can also be found at www.nywatertaxi.com/tours/westside-ferry.

Tickets for the ferry are sold onboard, and cost $4.50 for a single ride or $8 for a round trip. Bulk discounts are planned for everyday riders — as with weekly or monthly MetroCards — according to New York Water Taxi, but those pricing details have yet to be finalized.

The new transit option will certainly be a boon for Wall Street commuters living in — or soon to live in — the many new residential buildings around the burgeoning Hudson Yards and Hell’s Kitchen districts. But it will also likely have the same effect going the other way, considering the massive commercial development already underway at Related Companies’ Hudson Yards project (with its first office tower planned to open next year) and Brookfield Properties’ neighboring Manhattan West project (with its first office tower planned to open in 2016), as well as Tishman Speyer’s newly planned commercial development at West 34th St.and 10th Ave. (which could eventually rise to become the nation’s tallest building).

Just as thousands of new residential units are springing up around Hudson Yards and Hell’s Kitchen — with many more to come from Related — that housing boom has already taken place down in the Financial District and its surrounding neighborhoods below Canal St. In that Lower Manhattan area, the residential population practically doubled between 2000 and 2010, from around 32,000 people to nearly 60,000, according to U.S. Census data.

The new 7 train subway extension, at West 34th Street and 11th Ave., will certainly bring some additional relief to West Side transportation woes when it opens later this year — but many local leaders around both Hudson Yards and FiDi agree that the ferry is a much-needed option.

“We’re definitely very excited about it,” said Christine Berthet, chairperson of Community Board 4, one of those local leaders who took. the ferry for its maiden voyage on May 19. Aside from the community-wide benefits, she was also particularly enchanted by the ride itself.

“It was such a pleasant trip, especially because the weather was so nice, and the boat is very spacious and comfortable,” said Berthet. “I think it’s just a great experience.”