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March 17, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio


City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Re: Expanded ferry service between Governors Island and Brooklyn
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
We write to urge that the expansion of ferry service in New York City include daily
service (7 days-a-week in the summer, 5 days-a-week in the off-season) service between
Governors Island and Brooklyn. This service would dramatically improve access to
tremendous open space, cultural, and educational resources for Brooklyns residents,
enhance Governors Islands economic development potential, address equity issues, and
fit well into harbor-wide plans for ferry service.
As elected officials representing waterfront neighborhoods, we were very encouraged by
your call for expanded commuter ferry service in the State of the City address.
Waterfront communities are often poorly served by transit, and wider use of the Citys
waterways can seriously reduce commute times for residents of these neighborhoods.
However, we believe that the proposed routes for expanded service should provide for
additional ferry service connecting Governors Island to this expanded ferry network.
As you know, Governors Island is in the heart of New York Harbor, situated only 800
yards from Lower Manhattan, and even closer to Brooklyn. After an enormous effort by
the Trust for Governors Island, the island has been transformed into a true NYC
destination. In the summer of 2014 (the first summer the island was open seven days a
week), it saw over 476,000 visitors. During the summer, the island offers visitors parks
and playgrounds, educational and cultural workshops, theatrical productions, and
recreational and sports programs. Governors Island also houses the year-round Harbor
School, a NYC public high school with a growing reputation (which was previously
located in in Brooklyn), and offers affordable space residencies to artists.
As Governors Islands reputation, year-round uses, and number of visitors grow, the
regularity, hours of operation, and routes of ferry service need to increase as well. While
there is currently daily service year-round between Governors Island and Manhattans
Battery Marine Building, ferry service to Brooklyn only operates on summer weekends,
subsidized by the Trust.
This is a real disadvantage for Brooklyn residents for potential students of the Harbor
School (who are currently required to get to Lower Manhattan to catch the ferry), for
artists who could apply for affordable space residencies, and for residents seeking open
space. It is our strong belief that Brooklyn residents should have access to the island on a
daily basis.

Expanded ferry service to Brooklyn is also necessary to promote economic development


on Governors Island. The Trust for Governors Island is working hard to attract more
tenants to the island, who will bring with them jobs and economic opportunity. As
tenancy increases, there needs to be a reliable way for more businesses, workers, and
customers from all parts of New York to access the island.
Fortunately, establishing a connection between Governors Island and the citywide ferry
network is highly practical. This goal could most easily be accomplished by adding a stop
on the existing East River Ferry route. In order to preserve the current headway on that
service line (after adding a stop) it is our understanding that we would need to add one
additional boat to the current route. Based on our understanding that East River Ferry
boats cost approximately $900/hour, this means that extending service from Brooklyn to
Governors Island would only cost in the range of $2 million annually a small amount in
the context of broader ferry service expansion. We would consider this to be a very
reasonable investment to make in the future economic vitality of Governors Island.
Thank you again for your offices commitment to our waterfront infrastructure, and we
look forward to engaging with EDC on how to expand transit options to Governors
Island. Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,

Councilmember Brad Lander

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez

State Senator Daniel Squadron

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon

Councilmember Margaret Chin

Councilmember Stephen Levin

cc:

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen


EDC President Kyle Kimball