CITY ISLAND, the Bronx (PIX11) – If you ask people on City Island what it’s like to commute, they’ll tell you the options are slim.
“Swimming or getting on the bus or driving,” said one resident.
The maritime neighborhood in the Bronx has one bridge connecting it to the mainland. There’s one local city bus route and residents say traffic jams are common. It makes for a hectic commute to work and school for residents, especially those heading into Manhattan.
“I get out of the house by 6:30. That’s a 10-minute wait for the Bx29 to get to Grand Central. Then I have to take the [No. 6 train] to 125th, so I take the [No. 5] from 125th… It’s such a convoluted mess,” said Jake Diaz.
Diaz said it takes him 90 minutes to get to school. That’s why he supports a campaign to bring ferry service to City Island.
“If I just take the ferry, it would take me straight to Manhattan and I won’t have to take all these convoluted buses,” he said.
Diaz and his family members are among the close to 1,500 petition signatures calling on the city to expand its NYC Ferry service, which already has two busy stops in the borough at Ferry Point and Throgs Neck.
“In the Bronx, that ridership stayed at 90% even through the pandemic, so there is a real base for this in the Bronx. To expand the service just makes sense,” said community advocate John Doyle.
He said the ferry service would also attract foot traffic from visitors to the restaurants on City Island and could reinvigorate the dozens of vacant storefronts.
“This would take cars off the road, decrease the commute time for the average citizen on the island, and help small businesses, as well as provide a second route of egress off the island,” Doyle added.
About four years ago, the decision to skip City Island was made after conducting a study that measured ferry ridership. But locals say the city got it wrong because ridership was measured during weekdays and off-peak times, instead of during the weekend when City Island becomes a dining destination.
In addition to the petition, advocates launched a website to raise awareness.
A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which manages NYC Ferry projects, said in part in a statement: “We are always happy to hear suggestions on how the ferry can be made more convenient to different neighborhoods. While we are not actively pursuing expansion options, we remain focused on making our current service more accessible…”