2017-07-13 / Other News

Bringing The Ferry To Canarsie Pier

By Marc Want

Marc Want is one of the founders of the Canarsie Improvement Association. They are presently holding a petition drive to demonstrate the need for ferry service to Manhattan from Canarsie Pier.

If you live in Canarsie or elsewhere in southern Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, your commute can be a formidable task. An average trip by public transportation or car takes about an hour and a half, sometimes longer, and is exhausting for most of us. With work on the “L” train taking place, this burden might get even worse. This three hours of travel each day adds almost two additional workdays per week, or about 94 workdays a year. It leaves little time for family, sleep or enjoyment of daily life.

On the weekends, a trip to Manhattan is even more time-consuming and driving and parking is expensive.

The founders of the local community organization, Canarsie Kennel Club (CKC) Joanne Engles Bobb, Leanne Desvignes, Dorothy Lee, Judith Nadel, Robert Nadel, Marc Want and Richard Want, care about improving the Canarsie community and the lives of residents. They decided to form a group to create a better quality of life in Canarsie and have created the Canarsie Improvement Association.

The first item on the agenda is improving transportation to our neighborhood. Representatives of the group approached Councilman Alan Maisel for advice on how to bring the advantage of the New York Waterway Services to our Canarsie Pier. Mr. Maisel advised that to make this project a success, we would need to demonstrate community need by getting signatures on a petition to bring ferry service to Canarsie Pier. Sharon Long, Mr. Maisel's chief of staff, was instrumental in helping us get this petition underway.

To experience the impact and benefits of the ferry, we decided to experiment with the ferry service to the Rockaways. Every hour, the Rockaway ferry picked up 148 people to bring them to Manhattan. Occasionally, because of high demand, there were two ferries at the dock. Even so, some people were left behind. Demand and need for this kind of service is clearly high.

Unlike Canarsie Pier, Rockaway Pier is very small. There is very little shelter from the elements. Two benches in front of the pier were hardly enough for the waiting crowd. The Canarsie Pier is a much nicer and larger pier and has parking available right at the pier.

After doing some research, we found out that in the first month of its operation, the Rockaway ferry transported 11,000 people per week. Considering that the population of Canarsie is at least

30 percent greater than that of the Rockaways and the fact that the “L” train will not have full service, we expect the ferry to be well-utilized.

Not to mention, the ride on the ferry is pleasant and just plain fun. For Father ’s Day, my children wanted to take me to Manhattan for dinner via the Rockaway ferry, so we could experience this service for ourselves. It was a great experience! We departed at 4:30 p.m. The seating on board was comfortable, quiet and provided great shelter from the elements. For the adventurous type, there is plenty of space on the upper deck if you want to experience the weather and sea breeze. The cost of the trip is $2.75 per person each way. Bicycles can be brought on board for an additional $1.00. Dogs are welcome and have to be handled appropriately, just like on any New York public transportation. Food service and bathrooms are available on board. Ticket purchases can be done via cell phone app or via machines in the waiting area. The trip itself was very pleasant and relaxing. What a great way to get to and from work!

It took us to the Wall Street area where a free transfer was available to the 32nd Street ferry. After enjoying our dinner, we stayed in Manhattan until 8:30 p.m. and took the ferry back at sunset. The staff on the ferry was polite and professional. It was a great experience. While writing this article, I received a text that Pier 11 could not handle the current demand, so larger ferries seating 250 people, rather than the 148 passenger ferries, are being brought out to accommodate the demand.

The availability of good transportation to and from Canarsie has been neglected for too long. It is time for our residents to get the same benefits as are available to other New York neighborhoods.

We are in the process of collecting signatures for our petition and need all the help we can get from every individual and organization in Canarsie interested in improving the quality of life in our neighborhood. To help, please email canarsieimprovement@gmail.com or contact Marc Want at 718-241- 4563. See us on Facebook at Canarsie Improvement Association.

Help our petition drive!!!

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