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July 2005

On June 30th, after several years of hard work on the part of activists and Councilmember Margarita Lopez, the Accessible Commuter Ferry bill, Intro. 398-A, passed the New York City Council by 50 pass votes to 1 excused vote. Hip, hip, hooray! Frieda Zames worked so hard for this bill, and she died on the day it passed out of the joint Disability and Transportation Committees in the City Council.

The Ferry Bill provides for safe access to slips, piers, docks, floats, gangplanks, and the commuter ferries themselves, as well as to the terminals and the shuttle buses which go to and from some ferries. When the bill takes effect (after Mayor Bloomberg signs it or there is a council over-ride if it is vetoed by the mayor), ferry companies and the NYC Department of Transportation will have until the end of 2008 to make all ferry facilities accessible. Three-fourths of the shuttle buses must be accessible by March 1, 2007, and the rest must be accessible by the end of 2008. Many ferry shuttle buses have not been wheelchair-accessible at all.

Photo of DIA activists with Margarita Lopez after passage of commuter ferry bill
June 20, 2005, Ferries for ALL, with Margarita Lopez after Intro 398A was passed out of committee
Photo by Donny Vasquez

This bill is important because commuter ferries are a form of mass transit in New York City and they are not currently covered under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). As a result, people with disabilities have not been able to reach the ferries because of inaccessible shuttle buses, terminals, piers, floats, docks, slips, or gangplanks, or because the boats themselves are inaccessible. Sometimes there are steps or steep ramps or a huge vertical or horizontal gap between the pier or float and the boat (see photos in December 2002 Activist -

To see the complete Ferry Bill, go to: