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NYC Ferry horns quieted after Brooklyn residents complain

NYC Ferry service horns generated noise complaints in

NYC Ferry service horns generated noise complaints in Brooklyn, so the operators have installed lower-decibel versions. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

NYC Ferry service has gotten a little quieter this week.

Hornblower, the aptly named service operators, has replaced all ferry horns with lower-decibel versions in order to appease frustrated residents living near the docks. Those residents have been sounding off to the company about the decibel level of the horns, which ring as every boat leaves its dock.

The horn swap occurred this weekend, according to Hornblower spokesman Josh Knoller.

“NYC Ferry heard from community members loud and clear, concerns relating to excess noise levels coming from our horns,” said Knoller in a statement. “As promised and as part of our commitment to enhancing overall quality of service, we recently completed the installation of new, rear-facing and lower decibel horns across our entire fleet.”

Much of the backlash appeared to stem from Brooklyn stops along East River ferry service, a route Hornblower took over when NYC Ferry service launched May 1. Since, nearly three dozen noise complaints relating to boats had been logged through 311 in the area of the North Williamsburg and South Williamsburg landings along Kent Avenue.

“It was loud and it was noticeable … I can definitely tell there was a change,” said Christine Belva, a Bay Ridge resident waiting for a South Brooklyn ferry boat on Monday afternoon, who ultimately shrugged off the issue.

“It’s something that wouldn’t matter in the winter when windows are closed,” she said.

The new horns, directed at the back of each boat, are still loud enough to “promote safety throughout New York Harbor for kayakers and other recreational boaters,” Knoller said.

Janet General and Ruth McKenzie, who work at Fort Hamilton High School, said they were able to hear the NYC Ferry horns from the school, more than 10 blocks from Bay Ridge’s landing on 69th Street, on the day service launched there on June 1.

“But we really haven’t heard it since,” said General, who was waiting with McKenzie for a boat Monday. “I live two blocks away and I don’t have one complaint.”


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