Higgins & Ryan Applaud Addition of Second Bike Ferry
With another waterfront summer season well underway and a record-breaking one million-plus visitors expected at Canalside this year, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan are applauding Erie Canal Harbor Development (ECHDC) action to expand ferry service between Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbors.
“New amenities, restaurants, parks and public spaces on either side of the water are continuing to draw people in record numbers to Buffalo’s waterfront but we must remain in continual improvement mode to keep the momentum going,” said Congressman Higgins. “The addition of another ferry enhances connectivity between the inner and outer harbors and removes capacity issues that have led to frustration, ultimately improving the waterfront experience and giving people more reasons to stay and enjoy the waterfront again and again.”
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "The Queen City Bike Ferry has once again been a huge hit this summer. Congressman Higgins and I saw the need for expanded capacity, and that's why we called for the addition of a second ferry earlier this year. I am incredibly excited about the additional ferry service coming to Canalside for local residents and tourists to use and enjoy. The ferry will continue to grow in popularity, and faster and more reliable ferry service will help to contribute to the popularity and growth of Buffalo's waterfront."
In March Congressman Higgins and Assemblyman Sean Ryan called on Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to do more to meet the need for additional ferry capacity. The newly arrived Harbor Queen boat, which will be used for events and tours, will allow for an existing vessel to be used as a second bike ferry.
Ferry service first began in 2011 with a longer distance route, since a public landing immediately across from Canalside was not available at that time. During that first year, the ferry carried 5,000 passengers.
A new ferry, which could accommodate bicycles and shuttle passengers on a more direct route between the Inner and Outer Harbors, began running last year. The upgraded service was extremely popular, carrying 50,000 riders between Memorial Day and Labor Day of 2015. However, since the vessel can only hold up to 49 passengers and 25 bicycles, the public demand also created long lines of frustrated passengers left to wait in excess of 30 minutes at times.
An $825,000 project, made possible with funding provided through the federal relicensing settlement with the New York Power Authority, also opened earlier this year to provide a new landing site along the Outer Harbor to accommodate more efficient ferry docking.