by Gary Axelbank
October 23, 2018
Along with the friendly bus driver and the train conductor’s voice that greets Bronx commuters each morning on their way to work, NYC Ferry deckhand Jeffton Harrison should be added to the list of commuter chaperones.
The 31 year-old Harrison, a Wakefield resident, is the friendly face who greets Bronx passengers as they get on and off the NYC Ferry and as they comfortably take the 46-minute Soundview route from Clason Point to the east side of Manhattan – 90th street, 34th street, and Wall Street, to be precise.
“I like to be a people person,” he told the media during a rush hour jaunt past spectacular views of the city skyline on a chilly Monday morning. “You’re boarding people and you gotta make sure they know where they’re going and getting on the right boat. But my favorite part is interacting with the people. You know, making them smile and helping them get on board.”
The city says it’s had 6.5 milion riders take the six lines of the Ferry since it was launched in May, 2017. Their annual projections for the Soundview system, which was launched this past August, is a robust 400,000. To date, after just three months of service, ridership is over 150,000.
thisistheBronX made the full round trip from Clason Point to the three Manhattan stops and back to the Bronx. During the trip riders talked about how the Ferry has significantly cut their commute time, in some cases shaving 90-minutes off a one-way commute. But in their haste they might miss the side benefits of traveling by sea that inspire Harrison each morning.
Whe he was growing up, fishing in lakes on small boats with his father in Jamaica, he developed the perspective of an old seafarer with a philosophical understanding of what it means to be on the East River every day.
“Working on the water for me actually is coming into my own,” he said. “I was looking for my niche in this world and was always drawn to the water. In jobs I have had in the past, I would always be near the water, either working by a river or having a lunch break where I go to the river, look at boats, big ocean liners, tug boats, ferry boats.”
Also, if you ask, he’ll tell you that the Soundview line is a fun ride even if you’re not commuting. He travels the boat with his wife and daughter on his days off.
“Respect the water, love the water, and the more one you are with the water you should be able to handle any situation that happens.”
NYC Ferry is operated by Hornblower and it provides New Yorkers with a dependable way to commute and connect in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx along the East River. State-of-the-art vessels offer comfortable conveniences including charging stations, Wi-Fi and concessions – and it’s the same price as a subway ride.