More Ferries Go More Places, While N.Y.C.’s Costs Go Up

Weather: Put some spring in your step: It’ll be partly sunny, with a high near 70. No rain is expected.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until May 27 (Memorial Day).

As the cold retreats, stop and consider the ferry renaissance underway in New York City.

“This is the most extensive ferry system the city has had in many years,” said my colleague Patrick McGeehan, who has reported on the city’s commuter ferries, a bright spot in an otherwise bleak transit landscape of subway woes, roadway congestion and snail-paced crosstown buses.

The city is expanding a system that consisted largely of East River service by adding boats as well as docks in places including the Soundview section of the Bronx and Coney Island in Brooklyn.

The year-round ferries are changing the city’s transit options, making a commute to Midtown Manhattan more tolerable (and breezy) and expanding weekend possibilities with a scenic ride from Lower Manhattan to Rockaway Beach.

Critics, however, question the subsidies the city provides and say service largely caters to higher-income New Yorkers.

How much does a ferry ride cost?

The fare is $2.75.

Tickets are available via the N.Y.C. Ferry app or at ferry landings. Children shorter than 44 inches can ride for free when accompanied by an adult. There’s a $1 bicycle surcharge.

So the next time you feel lazy enough to jump on the subway for a stop or two, consider that for the same price you could hop a ferry from Wall Street to Rockaway Beach, Queens, and find yourself whooshing through New York Harbor and past the Coney Island Cyclone.

“Once you ride, you won’t go back to the subway,” Mr. McGeehan said. “The boats are very comfortable. There are snack bars with craft beers and wine, and good coffee. It’s a much more civilized way to commute than the subway.”

Where do the ferries go?

Against the backdrop of epic subway problems, the ferry system has emerged as an affordable commuting option for some, particularly in neighborhoods that have been called “transit deserts.”

The city’s ferry service has six regular routes, with five new routes coming in the next few years, including landings at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Coney Island, South Brooklyn, St. George on Staten Island and Throgs Neck in the Bronx.

Why does a ride cost $2.75?

The fares had been as high as $6 per ride, but when Mayor de Blasio took office, he brought prices down.

But the $2.75 fares come at a cost: The rides are highly subsidized, and transit advocates and elected officials have called the ferries a niche service largely for higher-earning New Yorkers. They also say the city should instead be investing in more efficient transit alternatives.

The average ride, one group estimates, actually costs $10.73, with longer rides costing more than double that.

[A ferry subsidy of $24.75 a ride? New York City’s costs are ballooning.]

But ridership has exceeded expectations, and Mr. de Blasio has spent more than previous administrations on ferry service itself.

City officials have said the subsidies would decrease as ridership increased. They also have noted that 40 percent of residents in neighborhoods with ferry docks have low to moderate incomes.

In May 1975, several months before her landmark album “Horses” was released, Patti Smith was part of a crowd that jammed Sheep Meadow in Central Park for a rally marking the end of the war in Vietnam.

See more old photos at our archival storytelling project, Past Tense, and on Instagram: @nytarchives.

Six years after Hurricane Sandy, here’s what they came up with: really big sandbags.

Ten teenagers were burned by an acid-like liquid thrown from above at a raucous party.

[Want more news from New York and around the region? Check out our full coverage.]

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

The city’s Fire Department appointed Lillian Bonsignore as chief of E.M.S., making her the highest-ranked woman in the uniformed service and the highest-ranked openly gay member. [Daily News]

New York City now has a Wu-Tang District. It’s on Staten Island. [Pix 11]

A councilman wants New York City to pay for armed guards at houses of worship that request the protection. [Wall Street Journal]

Gage and Tollner, the famed steakhouse in Downtown Brooklyn, closed in 2004 after a century. It’s set to reopen in the fall. [Eater]

Join a docent-led tour of the “Love & Resistance” exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, at the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Manhattan. 3:30 p.m. [Free]

Entertain the crowd at open mic night at Prohibition in Manhattan, or watch the fearless perform accompanied by the bar’s in-house band, the Speakeasies. 9 p.m. [Free]

Learn to paint with watercolors at a workshop by the East River in Brooklyn. Supplies will be provided, and beginners are welcome. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

— Ana Fota

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

There are few silent spaces, or occurrences, in New York City, but the wedding of an Upper West Side couple on May 18 — Christine Eng, 67, and Marion Stewart, 74 — will be an exception.

Mr. Stewart is a handyman at the West Side Community Garden, a shared green space that bisects a city block near West 90th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

The couple wanted their small, brief ceremony there, amid the cultivated pathways between tall residential buildings, but the garden’s rules prohibit music.

So Ms. Eng suggested that everyone at the wedding wear earbuds to privately listen in unison to the music — including “Pachelbel’s Canon” and a duet version of “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and Barry Manilow — so the normal garden activity can go on undisturbed.

“It’s this little oasis between city streets, but it’s not exactly quiet all the time,” Mr. Stewart said. “So at least we’ll hear the music clearly ourselves.”

The park was a favorite place for him and his first wife, Marcy Glanz, and became a healing spot for him after her death from cancer five years ago.

Mr. Stewart met Ms. Eng, a native New Yorker, in 2017 at the Whitney Museum of American Art as both admired a sculpture.

The wedding’s “closed-circuit” sound system would make it more intimate and personal, he said.

“To people gardening nearby, it’ll look like we’re walking in a trance to some unheard song,” he said. “We might get some puzzled looks, but we’ll have a wonderful time.”

Dear Diary:

In the early 2000s, I lived on the Upper East Side and worked in Midtown. I would walk to work and then back home to save money and get some exercise at the same time.

One night, crossing Park Avenue in the 60s on my way home, I noticed a crowd gathered around a man I recognized as Henry Winkler.

Despite a strong urge not to, I put two thumbs up and gave him an “Ayyy!”

He gave me his best “leave me alone” look. I felt terrible. True New Yorkers don’t acknowledge celebrities.

The next day, I mentioned what had happened to a co-worker and wondered whether it really was Henry Winkler. My co-worker had read in the paper that day that he was in New York to star in a Broadway show and that it must have been him.

That night, I walked home along the same block, saw a crowd and noticed Mr. Winkler there again.

Again, despite the strongest urge not to, I gave him a thumbs-up “Ayyy!” He looked at me as though he wanted to punch me.

The next day, my co-worker laughed and said I had to continue the routine until Mr. Winkler acknowledged me.

Walking home that night, I saw a crowd and in the middle, Mr. Winkler. As I got closer, he noticed me and just stared. I knew by then that I had better just keep walking.

But when I got within a few feet of him, I heard him yell, “Hey! Hey!”

I looked over. He had two thumbs up and a huge smile on his face.


— Wasim Husain

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