New York City

New NYC Ferry Boat Horn Blasts Annoy Waterfront Neighbors

People living in the popular waterfront neighborhoods of serviced by New York City's ferry service are about to get a reprieve from the new boats' horn blasts.

With ferries running 17 hours a day, and boats pulling into stops every 20 to 30 minutes, residents living in areas along the East River ferry route started complaining about the loud and frequent horn noises after the new ferry service launched May 1, according to Hornblower, the operator of the ferry.

"The only thing I hear is the ferry," said neighbor Morgan Alexander, who lives on the 26th floor of a Williamsburg building facing the river. "Usually people ask, 'What is that?' And I have to tell them it's the ferry." 

A non-scientific decibel reader app registered an 80 to 85 range when a boat horn sounded at the ferry stop there Wednesday, similar to a motorcycle or subway train going by. A level of 100 would be like a firecracker, and 140 is a jet taking off.

Water vessels are required by the U.S. Coast Guard to sound their horns whenever they're reversing, according to a spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corporation.

Hornblower, the operator of NYC Ferry, is "now working on a solution that would both appease waterfront residents and ensure ferry operations are compliant," said the EDC spokeswoman. 

Over the next three to four weeks, the horns will sound softer tones and be repositioned from front-facing to rear-facing, Hornblower says. And when the rest of the boats roll out for the new NYC Ferry routes launching in the summer, horns will be adjusted. 

Twenty new boats were commissioned for the NYC Ferry fleet.

The Rockaway and East River routes were the first two routes of the long-awaited NYC Ferry to go into service. One has stops in Rockaway, Sunset Park and Wall Street. The other has stops at 34th Street, Hunters Point South, Greenpoint, North and South Willamsburg, Dumbo, Governers Island and Wall Street.

The South Brooklyn and Astoria routes launch in June and August, and the entire NYC Ferry system will fully launch in 2018.

Meanwhile Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio spoke at Hudson River Park touting what he calls the early success of NYC Ferry, saying 49,000 people have taken it so far.

"There are so many reasons to turn back to the water because it’s beautiful, because in so many ways it is a cleaner and safer way to get around, because it’s a nicer way to get around but also it creates opportunity," he said. 

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