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18. Because the East River Ferry Swims Laps Around the L Train.

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Illustration by Peter Arkle  

Since it launched in June, the East River Ferry, which currently stops at seven sites along the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens riverfront, has transported nearly 600,000 people. That is 200,000 more riders than the city anticipated in the ferry’s entire first year. And yet, hopping aboard one of the ferries, you feel as if you’ve chartered your own private pleasurecraft. You climb the steps to the second deck, and bundle up for a wind-blasted uptown voyage. Zipping past brake lights on the FDR and over stalled (or, in the case of the L, nonexistent) trains in the subway tunnels below, you realize that this might be the apogee of modern public transportation; there must have been some closet romantics in City Hall who championed the three-year, $9.3 million subsidy awarded the BillyBey Ferry Company to operate a fleet earlier this year. The goals, in truth, were more Bloombergian: to increase transportation options, to burnish the city’s green credentials, and to give developers another reason to invest in Brooklyn and Queens’s burgeoning Gold Coast. The ferries would connect condo dwellers in Williamsburg and Hunters Point to their offices on Wall Street and in midtown. And if they made you fall strangely in love with your commute, that was a bonus.


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