Brooklyn Daily Eagle
East River Ferry service to and from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, operated on a seasonal basis only, has proven so popular that local residents and representatives are pushing to make it permanent.
Hundreds have signed a petition championed by state Senator Daniel Squadron in support of year-round service at the pier, which lies at the south end of the park at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.
The issue has heated up since the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released in December a request for proposals (RFP) for an East River Ferry operator. Petition signers want the EDC to award the contract to an operator that agrees to include permanent Pier 6 service.
The new ferry service agreement commences on June 14, 2014, the date the current service agreement expires. BillyBey Ferry Company has been operating the service, which launched in June 2011 as a three-year pilot program.
The service has proven enormously popular with commuters and tourists. According to the EDC, in its first six months of operation the East River Ferry carried more than 1.6 million passengers -- already surpassing the initial projections of approximately 1.3 million passengers for the entirety of the three-year program.
Crowds have been so large that BillyBey had to put larger, 399-passenger models into service on the weekends last summer. They had been running 149-passenger vessels.
The RFP calls for at least maintaining the current level of service, but “respondents have the opportunity to propose expansion of service, such as increased operating hours and new landing locations,” EDC says.
The Pier 6 petition reads, “We, the undersigned, urge NYCEDC to encourage respondents to the RFP for an East River Ferry operator to include year-round service to and from Atlantic Avenue/Pier 6 in their proposals and only award a contract to an operator that includes this service.”
Besides Senator Squadron, backers include Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, and a full complement of civic organizations: Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 6, Atlantic Avenue BID, Cobble Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, Carroll Gardens Associations, Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, Boerum Hill Association, Willowtown Association, and AT White Riverside Tenants Association.
The petition, still open for signatures, can be found at www.nysenate.gov/webform/join-call-year-round-ferry-service-atlantic-avepier-6.