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City Island residents pushing for ferry service for fast commutes, more foot traffic

City Island in the Bronx wants NYC to give it a ferry stop
City Island in the Bronx wants NYC to give it a ferry stop 02:17

NEW YORK -- There's a hidden oasis in the Bronx that is best known for its neighborhood charm, ocean-front views, and, arguably, some of the best seafood in the city.

"We used to have a sign over the bridge that said Seaport of the Bronx," said John Doyle, of City Island Rising.

When asked how he would describe City Island, Doyle said, "It's a small town, small piece of New York City, but a very distinct piece of New York City."

But getting into this close-knit community in the northeast Bronx can take hours by car or bus. There's one road in and one road out. Locals say the lack of transportation has cut it off from the rest of the city.

"You talk to people down in the city in Brooklyn and they don't even know City Island exists," said James McGowan, whose family owns City Island Diner.

Residents like Doyle are leading the movement for a new ferry stop on the island.

"It would improve the quality of life dramatically," said Doyle. "It would cut commute times for the average City Islander going to the city, which 10% of the island works in the city, in half."

Doyle says residents near other ferry stops in the borough, like Ferry Point Park in Throggs Neck, now have easier commutes into Manhattan. The City Island community hopes a ferry could also boost the local economy.

"Over the years, City Island has gone through a slump. There a lot of empty store fronts on the Main Street," said McGowan. 

City Island Diner is a staple spot on the island for 27 years. McGowan says it serves locals every day, but business is seasonal for its out-of-town customers.

"In the summer we get a lot of car traffic getting out here, but I think the problem with City Island is that it's really isolated," said McGowan.

A NYC Ferry Expansion Feasibility site assessment from 2019 determined there would be overall low ridership on a City Island ferry, but residents say otherwise. The city says it is not actively pursuing options.

"You don't have to live on City Island to be invested in its future," said Doyle.

For more information on the petition to get a ferry to City Island, click here.

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