Adding a stop to an existing ferry route five minutes across the East River from Queens looks small on a map.
But the new leg on NYC Ferry’s Astoria route that now links to Manhattan at 90th Street was big enough to bring out the mayor, a congresswoman and civic leaders from throughout western Queens last Friday.
Mayor de Blasio, in a transcript issued by his office, said there had been service between the two sites until 1936, when, he said, it was stopped by Robert Moses.
“Well, we’re righting that wrong,” de Blasio said. “Most of a hundred years later, we’re righting that wrong and restoring that connection.”
The route now begins at 90th Street on Manhattan’s East Side and crosses to the Astoria landing at 3-10 Astoria Blvd.
“It takes five minutes, and it doesn’t add to anyone else’s travel time,” Richard Khuzami, president of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, told the Chronicle in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Also in attendance was U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) and Claudia Coger, president of the Astoria Houses Tenants’ Association, whose residents also had supported the extension.
“And I have to say, I want to give credit where credit is due to you, Claudia, to the residents association, to the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, to so many other community leaders, community groups, to the elected officials ...” de Blasio said. “... It’s only a few minutes away and it would open up a world of possibilities for everyone.”
Khuzami said his group began thinking about the extension almost from the time the Astoria landing became the start of the route established about two years ago.
“We were just looking across, and it’s so close,” he said. They began investigating and eventually put out petitions and began reaching out to the city’s Economic Development Corp., which oversees ferry operations, including inviting EDC representatives to their regular meetings.
Last summer they got the word that it was a go. Other stops include Roosevelt Island, Gantry State Park in Long Island City, East 34th Street and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
“It’s just common sense,” Khuzami said. “It doesn’t add to the cost of operations because the landings were already at both sites.” He said commuters to Manhattan now have a viable option for work or other needs.
“Look at healthcare,” he said. “People now have direct access to the hospitals on the East Side like the Hospital for Special Surgery. If someone from the Astoria Houses works at a hospital on the East Side, they don’t have to take a bus or a subway to Manhattan and take another one in Manhattan. Their trip goes from an hour and a half to five minutes.”
Maloney, on her Twitter page, liked linking two neighborhoods in her district.
“It will streamline commutes & provide much needed access for these communities, including for public housing residents,” she said.
Khuzami also said restaurants and other businesses in western Queens can now reach out to Manhattan residents for whom they are now more conveniently located.
“This is a win-win for everyone,” he said.