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PR- 162-13
May 15, 2013


Additional Free Ferry Will Run Every Weekend This Summer; New Stop at Van Brunt Street to Connect Riders to Red Hook Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

East River Ferry Ridership Reaches Two Million

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky today announced the launch of an expanded, free Red Hook Summer Ferry that will operate weekends throughout the summer. The expanded service will begin May 25th and run from Pier 11 in Manhattan to a new stop at Van Brunt Street and then to IKEA, both in Red Hook. The Van Brunt Street stop will activate an existing, currently unused ferry landing, providing convenient access to the neighborhood’s dynamic commercial corridor and connecting New Yorkers and visitors to small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The second ferry boat will double the frequency of trips on weekends. The Red Hook Summer Ferry will be free to riders and builds upon the success of New York City’s growing ferry network, including the East River Ferry, which later this week is expected to reach two million total riders in less than two years of service - more than double expected ridership. Free transfers will be available between the Red Hook Ferry and the northbound East River Ferry in order to connect to East River Ferry destinations in Brooklyn and Queens and further strengthen linkages in the City’s transportation network.

“Hurricane Sandy hit the Red Hook community hard, and that’s why we’re making it easier than ever for New Yorkers to get to small businesses in the area in order to help the community continue to recover,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By expanding the already successful free IKEA ferry to another stop in the heart of Red Hook, and by connecting it to the East River Ferry that is celebrating its two millionth ride this week, the free Red Hook summer ferry will help boost the local economy. I look forward to the Red Hook Ferry’s opening this Memorial Day and encourage all New Yorkers to try it.”

“With the huge success of the East River Ferry and IKEA ferry, more and more small business owners, residents and tourists are demanding greater ferry service throughout the five boroughs,” said City Council Speaker Quinn. “Now, every weekend all summer long,  folks can hop on the IKEA ferry for free and hop off at a brand new stop in Red Hook to spend the day and night sampling the neighborhood's great small businesses. This is sure to be a major boon to the local economy and help Red Hook reverse the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, EDC, New York Water Taxi; Billybey Ferry Company, Fairway Market, IKEA; and the O’Connell Organization for their continued efforts to strengthen the city’s transportation network and help neighborhoods recover from Hurricane Sandy.”

“Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, our Administration has made assisting businesses and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy a priority, and the Red Hook Summer Ferry is the latest example,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “By expanding this service we can help small businesses in the area continue their recovery from the storm, advance an efficient and popular transportation network, and connect New Yorkers and visitors alike to one of the City’s great communities.” 

“Building upon the enormous success of the East River Ferry, the new Red Hook Ferry pilot will expand our transportation infrastructure and provide much-needed additional service to a community severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “By shortening wait times and providing an additional stop in the heart of Red Hook’s commercial corridor, we anticipate that both New Yorkers and visitors alike will take advantage of this efficient and cost-effective route to one of New York City’s gems, providing a major boost to local businesses as well as the City’s overall economy.”

“Expanded weekend ferry service to Red Hook is another way the City is helping Red Hook small businesses that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy get back on their feet,” said Rob Walsh, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “This summer, take the ferry to Red Hook and explore what this neighborhood and its local small businesses have to offer.”

“Brooklyn has become a ‘must-do’ on the list of international and domestic visitors to NYC, and this expanded summer service into Red Hook will provide one more way for our 52 million visitors to experience one of the City’s most vibrant neighborhoods,” said George Fertitta, NYC & Company’s CEO. 

Two boats will run as part of the Red Hook Ferry, traveling between Pier 11, the Van Brunt Street landing and the IKEA landing.  Service will run from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, May 25th) through Labor Day Weekend, including the Mondays of Memorial Day and Labor Day (Monday, September 2nd). Each landing will be served every 25 minutes, improving upon the current frequency which is approximately 40 minutes. Free transfers will be provided northbound on the East River Ferry at Pier 11, connecting riders from Red Hook to Midtown Manhattan. The Red Hook Summer Ferry is the result of a partnership between New York Water Taxi; Billybey Ferry Company, which operates the East River Ferry; Fairway Market; IKEA; and the O’Connell Organization, which owns the pier at which the Red Hook Ferry will operate. All of the City’s partners will work to make the public aware of the new service to encourage ridership.

The Red Hook Summer Ferry expanded service will provide Red Hook businesses with additional, much-needed foot traffic and economic activity, as well as provide an additional weekend transit option for local residents to an area which is presently underserved by public transportation options. Hurricane Sandy devastated many area businesses, with nearly every business along Van Brunt Street, the main commercial corridor, suffering significant flooding and other damage. Industrial buildings along the neighborhood’s waterfront also lost equipment and inventory due to flooding, and residents on low-lying streets - such as Pioneer Street - were heavily damaged. The additional service will be paid for by the City, with a partner sponsorship from Fairway Market, and assistance by IKEA through the expansion of their existing service.

“This is great news for New York City commuters,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “The new Red Hook Ferry will better connect New York City’s waterfront communities, bring more foot traffic to Red Hook and benefit the community's businesses that were devastated after Sandy. The ferry will be a terrific addition to New York City’s growing ferry system and I’d like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and NYC EDC for providing this new transportation option.”

“This new summer ferry will allow more New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy everything Red Hook has to offer while supporting local businesses as they rebuild stronger and smarter from Superstorm Sandy,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand. “Red Hook suffered enormous damage from the storm and we must continue to work together to provide the resources and support our communities need to grow and thrive.”

“Bravo to Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, Fairway Market, Ikea and all of the city’s partners who all helped to get this expansion of Red Hook Ferry service ‘afloat,’” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “With the East River Ferry having already ‘sailed’ by expectations for ridership and popularity, I have no doubt that the ‘launch’ of additional ferries to Red Hook will be a big 'splash' for tourists and a will bring a ‘wave’ of new business to Red Hook as Brooklyn's waterfront rebuilds, rebounds and recovers.”

“Opening new transportation options to our community draws more visitors to the area, providing customers for local businesses, while making Red Hook residents’ commutes easier,” said Representative Nydia M. Velázquez. “I’m pleased to see this ferry service expansion, which will benefit Brooklyn residents, other New Yorkers and tourists alike.” 

“There's no question: ferries have become a very popular form of transit for New Yorkers, a highlight for visitors, and a key part of the revitalization of our waterfront,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “Expanded ferry service to Red Hook will be a major boon to businesses -- especially those recovering from Sandy – while providing a vital conduit between Manhattan and Brooklyn to make more of our city even more accessible for more residents and visitors. Thank you to the administration for making expanded service a reality. I know I’m looking forward to summer weekends on our city’s incredible waterfront.”

“I applaud and support the launching of  a new free Red Hook ferry service to the IKEA Route which will help the communities of Red Hook and their businesses to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy,” said Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz. “The strategy of increasing transportation via ferries is a smart one and I encourage my constituents in the Red Hook area and visitors to the area to make use of this new weekend ferry stop at the Van Brunt Landing.”

“I am grateful to the administration for responding to our urging to expand ferry service for Red Hook,” said Council Member Sara M. González. “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and Speaker Christine Quinn.  Speaker Quinn has made linking our five boroughs through waterborne transit a central theme of the City Council’s vision for the City.  It’s an excellent idea. It is our strong hope that this Summer service will lead to full-time services for Red Hook and extend to Sunset Park.  The ancillary services tied to full-time ferry terminal operations on our waterfront will not only create more local jobs but will provide other economic development benefits throughout the community as well. Devastated businesses along the Van Brunt corridor as well as transit-starved Red Hook residents will be the grateful beneficiaries of expanded service on the ‘Blue Highway.”

“I applaud the City’s initiative to expand the ferry system to help the community get back on its feet,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. “It goes to show that Hurricane Sandy cannot divert this neighborhood from the road to recovery. It is my hope that this expansion will not only make things business as usual, but rather make businesses stronger than ever. This is another step in the right direction towards creating a greater ferry access network to the outer boroughs of New York City.”

“It is heartwarming to see that despite the tragedy caused by Hurricane Sandy, Ferry Service is still playing a vital role in the economic growth of business in New York City,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Council Committee on Waterfronts. “The expansion of the Red Hook Ferry service demonstrates how far we have come after the devastation of last year’s Super Storm Sandy, by providing consumers a cost-effective method to venture into what were some of the City’s most devastated areas.”

“The expansion of ferry services to areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy demonstrates the City’s ongoing initiative to place our small businesses and communities’ need at top priority,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, Chair of the Council Committee on Economic Development. “This is an excellent way to bring back much needed economic activity to areas that have been hit the hardest. I am thankful to Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn for leading this vital effort  to serve the business community and ensuring its vitality.”

“The ferry service is a great boost the local economy in these hard-hit areas,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “From Red Hook to Pier 11, the ferry is a fun, free, and now even more convenient way for  New Yorkers and tourists alike to enjoy the diversity of our city.”

“Fairway Market is pleased to be an integral part of this initiative,” said Bill Sanford, the company’s president. “The Red Hook business district took a terrible pounding from Hurricane Sandy, but all of us vowed that we would rebuild and come back better than ever. We’ve greatly accomplished this goal and now, through this free ferry, we will be able to share this achievement and afford all New Yorkers the opportunity to experience and enjoy this revitalized destination.”

“The community of Red Hook, including us here at IKEA, are thrilled about the expanded Water Taxi service planned for this summer”, said Fredrik Rabe, IKEA Brooklyn store manager. “Every business was hit hard, especially our neighbor Fairway. We are grateful for this much needed initiative by the Mayor’s office to bring more people into our community. There are many amazing shops, art galleries & restaurants in this area that people still need to discover! Warm welcome to Red Hook!”

“New York Water Taxi is proud to be part of the efforts to bring visitors to our neighborhood this summer,” said Helena Durst, President of the New York Water Taxi. “As the only Ferry Company to call Red Hook its homeport we are proud to be operating fast and efficient transportation for our neighbors and visitors to our neighborhood.”

“We are proud to offer this opportunity to Red Hook residents, especially in light of the devastation in Red Hook as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” said Paul Goodman, CEO of Billybey Ferry Company, which operates the East River Ferry service. “We are hopeful that Red Hook residents will use the free and convenient ferry transfer to visit other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and areas in Manhattan and Queens.”

“Building on the incredible success of the East River Ferry, the City of New York’s extension of subsidized ferry service this summer to Red Hook is a win-win,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. “Ferries will provide this underserved neighborhood, which took a very tough hit from Sandy, much-needed transportation and an economic shot in the arm. Well done.”

“As businesses go from recovery to rebuilding, this news could not have come at a better time,” said David Meade, Executive Director of the South West Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. “Expanded water taxi services will help bring visitors to Red Hook to eat, drink and shop and discover what makes Red Hook so special.

“As a real estate development company that has been in the area for over three decades, The O'Connell Organization is elated at the potential of additional ferry service to and from Red Hook,” said Gregory O’Connell Jr.  “We thank the Mayor's Office, EDC and all other contributors for implementing a new facilitator of economic activity for Red Hook's businesses, many of which were negatively impacted by and still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. “

“Six months after Hurricane Sandy, the addition of increased ferry service to Red Hook is great news. It will bring visitors to the area all summer and will allow New Yorkers to enjoy this wonderful neighborhood,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “It is vital for the economic development and recovery of Red Hook for increased transportation options to the area. The expansion of ferry service in Red Hook is something we have advocated for and we would like to thank the City, EDC President Seth Pinsky and NY Water Taxi for making it a reality.”

“Economically speaking after hurricane Sandy, we learned that the East river can bring heartache, devastation and loss of business but if the Ferry lands at VanBrunt street this summer, the East river will also be responsible for bringing profits back to businesses and the assurance of survival and progress within this community,” said Triciann Botta, owner of Botta di Vino in Red Hook. “So, bring it on!”

“We’re really looking forward to sharing our neighborhood this summer with visitors from Manhattan, North Brooklyn, Queens, and around the world, and the expanded ferry service will make it easier than ever to get to Red Hook,” said St. John Frizell, owner of Fort Defiance in Red Hook. “There’s really nothing like approaching Red Hook from the water—you get a feel for the maritime nature of the community, and hands-down best views of the Statue of Liberty. If you've put off that trip to Red Hook all winter, now's the time—after one visit, you'll be hooked!”

The City’s ferry initiatives are part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide strategy launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn, which lays out a sustainable blueprint for the City’s more than 500 miles of shoreline. WAVES has two core components: Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released a year ago, which established long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, which set forth priority initiatives to be implemented by the end of 2013, many of which are being realized. Together, the initiatives provide a blueprint for the City’s waterfront and waterways, and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation.


Marc La Vorgna/Lauren Passalacqua   (212) 788-2958

Patrick Muncie/Nick Kelly   (212) 312-3523


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