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East River Ferry: In Theory, a Good Idea

There’s just no damn good way for me to get from Queens to Brooklyn, home of my place of employment (sometimes known as a “job”). So I received news of the East River Ferry with some excitement. The ferry landing in DUMBO isn’t terribly far from my office, and traveling on the East River is certainly more direct than crossing it twice.

It’s been free this week and will be through next. And Brooklyn Roasting Company is serving up free coffee for the ride, too. I guess that’s the hard sell for New Yorkers — your first taste is free, baby.

The River ride itself takes all of about 25 minutes from LIC to DUMBO, with stops in Greenpoint, North Williamburg, and South Williamsburg in between (it originates at 34th St. in Manhattan and ends at Wall St.). And it’s a pretty decent way to travel. Lovely views of NYC, including the high rises of Manhattan and the industrial sections of Queens and Brooklyn, with a few luxury condos thrown in along the river in Williamsburg because, you know, it’s Williamsburg.

Alas, it doesn’t shave any time off my commute, mostly because I’ve still got to take the 7 train from Sunnyside to Long Island City. That part is only ten minutes or so, depending on my wait time. But then it’s actually more than a half-mile walk to the ferry. So it takes nearly a half hour for me to get to the LIC ferry landing. Still an hour door-to-door.

I mean, what’s a guy gotta do to get from Queens to Brooklyn on public transportation in some sort of reasonable time frame?

Then there’s the possibility of not getting on the ferry. This is an evening commute problem. If you pick it up in DUMBO, the ferry’s already made a pickup on Wall Street. So yesterday, when I tried to commute via the East River, the boat was full. About a dozen people from a line about a hundred long got on the boat. I wasn’t one of them, and it wasn’t looking promising for the next boat (20 minutes later) either. I took the long walk from the ferry landing to the subway and took that home instead.

Again, the ferry was free, and because it was a nice day for tourists and families in DUMBO yesterday, a lot of people were riding it who won’t be once it’s running for real. But a full ferry boat is indeed a problem I wouldn’t want to deal with if I’m just trying to commute home. I’d very quickly become one of those, “Fuck you, tourists — I just want to get home!” people.

Eventually, the ferry will be $4 a ride. The monthly all-you-can-ride pass is $140. So it would more-than-double my current commute’s cost. And since it’s not shaving off any time, even if all goes well, I’m probably gonna give it a miss. Which is sorta too bad, since I rather like the boat ride.

So I’ll continue to commute to work via the East River Ferry in the morning over the next week or so. Then I’ll avoid the ferry in the evening. And long-term it looks like I’ll continue with my regular commute that incorporates the Brooklyn Bridge walk. It’s more than decent to be sure.

What I will say, however, is that for the first time since moving to Sunnyside, I’ve thought about leaving it for Long Island City, in order to make the commute that much easier. I’ve just thought about it; I don’t expect anything real to come out of those thoughts. After all, I do love Sunnyside.

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