City Island residents clamor for ferry stop in Bronx enclave as $15 congestion pricing looms: ‘A very attractive option’

City Island
City Island

City Island residents are hoping that the Big Apple’s controversial $15 congestion pricing toll will allow a new transportation option to set sail in the Bronx enclave.

A growing group of islanders from the charming waterfront community known for its seafood is clamoring for a ferry stop as a cheaper — and faster — way to reach other parts of the city as the toll is slated to begin in June.

Supporters of the ferry service on the 1.5-mile haven say that traveling by passenger boat would not only be an easier way to commute during the workweek, but it would also draw visitors from the other four boroughs.

City Island residents are calling on the NYC Ferry to add a stop to its area. Christopher Sadowski
City Island residents are calling on the NYC Ferry to add a stop to its area. Christopher Sadowski

A 2019 feasibility study explored adding ferry service to City Island or nearby Orchard Beach, but there hasn’t been any movement toward that possibility since and NYC Ferry confirmed Wednesday it is not currently looking to expand.

“I certainly think that the upcoming congestion pricing should cause reconsideration of this proposal,” longtime resident John Doyle told The Post Tuesday.

Citing census data, Doyle noted roughly 10% of the 4,500 islanders who live on City Island commute to Manhattan regularly, while another 8% travel into Brooklyn via car or public transportation.

The MTA’s congestion pricing is supposed to begin in June, and drivers traveling south of 60th Street in Manhattan will be slapped with a $15 fee once a day.

While the program is supposed to cut down on traffic and infuse billions into the embattled transit agency, one of the chief complaints has been that working-class residents from the outer boroughs don’t have viable public transportation options and will have to fork up more money if they drive into Manhattan.

NYC Ferry currently has seven routes across the city.
NYC Ferry currently has seven routes across the city.

“Now that we know congestion pricing is coming up, with environmental policy the way is it and city policy the way is it, where they’re trying to get people to use their cars less, here’s a very attractive option that City Islanders could avail themselves to,” said Doyle, who noted there has been a renewed push for a ferry for about a year.

A website set up by civic organization City Island Rising encourages residents to call on elected officials to back a landing for NYC Ferry, which operates six regular routes and has over 20 stops across the city.

The closest NYC Ferry stop to City Island is Ferry Point Park in Throgs Neck.

David Diaz, who has lived on City Island for seven years and works in midtown Manhattan, said when he takes a bus to the 6 subway train, his commute usually takes 90 minutes or more. He’ll also occasionally drive his car.

“I think sort of the idea behind the congestion pricing is to try to limit the amount of cars and trucks and all that kind of stuff,” Diaz said. “And now people are going to be looking for another option to be able to get in without having to go through that, then the ferry would absolutely lend that.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation, which runs NYC Ferry, threw cold water on the proposal Wednesday.

“NYC Ferry plays an important role as a transit option, and we welcome New Yorkers’ advocacy and excitement about NYC Ferry and the recognition about the critical part it plays in our communities,” an NYCEDC spokesperson said in a statement.

“While we are not actively pursuing expansion options, our focus is on making our current service more accessible, equitable, and financially sustainable through the Adams administration’s Ferry Forward plan.”

The 2019 feasibility study done by NYCEDC indicates that while a direct ferry route from City Island to Midtown and Lower Manhattan would cut down on commuting times, too few residents would travel by boat.

The MTA’s Bx29 bus is the only mass transit option to get on and off City Island in the Bronx. Stefano Giovannini
The MTA’s Bx29 bus is the only mass transit option to get on and off City Island in the Bronx. Stefano Giovannini

The study found that 225 residents in the area travel into Manhattan daily with only a portion of those people likely to take the ferry.

If a pier was constructed around Orchard Beach, it would take the nearest residents 20 minutes to reach the ferry, meaning service from that location would “not be competitive with existing transit for the surrounding neighborhoods.”

But Doyle and Diaz insisted this week that the five-year-old study didn’t sufficiently probe the number of visitors the ferry could bring to City Island from other parts of the five boroughs.

During the warmer months, a long line of cars akin to the final scene in the baseball flick “Field of Dreams” waits to get onto the island for the various seafood restaurants the neighborhood offers.

Doyle calls it “legendary traffic” on the road into the island, though he wants to see more foot traffic from people getting off a ferry that could boost business on the island’s main street.

“What we’re trying to do is be a destination,” Diaz added. “How can we get you here from Brooklyn and Queens and Manhattan without having to take public transportation … or drive your car.”