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Soundview Ferry may be inaccessible for Hunts Point residents

Proposed City Ferry Service

NYCEDC

Mayor de Blasio’s proposed ferry service between the South Bronx and the Upper East Side.

18-minute ride to E. 90th St. would cost same as a subway swipe

A city ferry service will be coming to the South Bronx in 2018, but for Hunt Point residents, the trek to the boat will make for a heck of a commute.

Soundview is the one and only Bronx stop in Mayor de Blasio’s ferry initiative, which is intended to expand transportation services in neighborhoods that lack convenient options for the same cost as a subway ride.

The plan is to give Bronx residents fast access to Manhattan, as well as “support housing development, job creation and neighborhood growth,” according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation in a March 2015 press release.

The ferry will make three stops on the East River. From the Soundview dock, it will take 18 minutes to East 90th Street, 27 minutes to East 62nd Street and 43 minutes to Wall Street.

“I think that any investment in the Bronx is a smart investment,” said City Councilwoman Annabel Palma, who represents Soundview, Parkchester, Castle Hill, Clason Point and Harding Park. “The ferry is definitely a benefit to cut travel time.”

Right now, she says, it takes anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes to get to the 6 train from Soundview, either walking or riding the Bx27 or Bx39 buses under the Bruckner Expressway. The ferry’s last stop at Pier 11/Wall Street will take about the same time from the center of Soundview as it does by bus and train, but with one less transfer. The exact location of the ferry dock is undecided.

But the ferries will leave riders near the East River, an 18-minute walk from the east side 4, 5, 6 subway line. And the ferry does not allow transfers, so getting on the bus or subway from the ferry dock will require another fare.

The new ferry service will not shorten any commutes for Hunts Pointers. A trip from The Point on Garrison Avenue and Manida Street to the ferry terminal in Soundview will take approximately 40 minutes with the use of the 6 train and the Bx27 bus. The trip overall from The Point to 86th Street and Lexington Avenue would take about 50 extra minutes by ferry than by subway.

The ferry will connect Bronxites to Manhattan’s East Side, like the 6 train does currently, however, in its 2013 study of ferry systems, the city cites the extra travel option as a benefit for commuters in emergency situations and for the reduction of overcrowded subways.

The transportation landscape will also shift with the long-awaited Second Avenue subway, scheduled now for December 2016. Landing on the east side may then become more convenient for ferry riders. The Second Avenue line will extend the Q train north, creating new stops at 63rd Street, 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street.

The city has already launched a ferry service on the East River, which connects Long Island City and four Brooklyn locations with lower-Manhattan and Governor’s Island. The East River Ferry currently costs $4 for a weekday one-way ride and $6 on the weekends. The Economic Development Corporation, which is planning the new ferry service, is proposing new fares be the same as the subway to entice riders.

“The cost will definitely be worth it,” said Palma.

According to the city’s plan, the ferry line will require $17 million in capital costs in addition to a $4.3 million annual public subsidy. This cost, however, is based on a $5 fare, so actual costs will be higher.

The report also suggests that ferry access to Soundview could increase the number of recreational visitors to Pugsley Creek Park and interest in Soundview’s waterfront for residential development.

This is based on the city’s 2013 study of the East River Ferry, which has now been operating for four years. The study said that the ferry service increased property values within one mile of a stop by $500 million. “Higher demand for ferry service should lead to higher residential prices and rents as homes with access to ferry stops now come bundled with access to the ferry network,” the study said.

That could add to the looming fear of gentrification and increased interest from those willing to “venture” to a new neighborhood to live. For developers who have recently become interested in the South Bronx because of its proximity to Manhattan and the skyline views it boasts, the ferry could be an added bonus.

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