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ECHDC board authorizes contract to extend Queen City Bike Ferry service


Mon, Mar 21st 2022 01:40 pm

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. met Monday and authorized an amendment to a contract that will allow for the continuation of the Queen City Bike Ferry, a popular summertime amenity that links Canalside and the Outer Harbor via the Buffalo River.

The Hilliman family-operated ferry service, operated for bicyclists and pedestrians, runs daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. One-way fares, including bicycles, are $1 per person.

“The Queen City Bike Ferry not only connects the inner and outer harbors, but also provides a low-cost, efficient, scenic excursion on the water,” ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. “Continuing this service allows easy access for bicyclists and pedestrians to the many attractions of our city’s greatest asset: the waterfront.”

The approved contract extension provides a final, three-year operations/maintenance service contract not to exceed $530,440, with a total contract amount that is capped at $1,652,190. Funding is from the New York Power Authority, through relicensing agreements tied to the operation of the Niagara Power Project. Revenue from the sale of roundtrip tickets, sponsorships, and/or other income associated with the operations will be deposited into ECHDC’s account.

The Hilliman family, contracted since 2015 to operate the Queen City Bike Ferry along the Buffalo River, will continue to provide operations and maintenance for the seasonal public ferry service. As contractors, they are wholly responsible for staffing associated with operating the vessel in a safe and secure manner, maintaining rider logs, monitoring vessel maintenance, proposing capital improvements and ensuring a satisfactory customer experience. Operational duties include, but are not limited to, cleanliness, fueling, repairs, inspection and compliance with insurance and all applicable local, state and federal laws.

Since 2014, the Queen City Bike Ferry contract has included added responsibilities, including landscape maintenance at the Bike Ferry Landing site, operations and maintenance of the ticket kiosks, and provision of a second ferry during selected peak days based on the past year’s attendance records. The contractor is also responsible for off-season storage of the vessel and docks associated with the ferry service.

The Queen City Bike Ferry can hold up to 49 passengers and 25 bikes at a time. One-way trips take five to 10 minutes to complete between the commercial slip at Canalside and the bike ferry landing on the Outer Harbor. From the bike ferry landing, passengers have walking access to Wilkeson Pointe, the Times Beach Nature Preserve and the Buffalo Main Lighthouse. For bikers, destinations include Buffalo Harbor State Park, Charlie’s Boat Yard restaurant, Tifft Nature Preserve, and Lakeside Bike Park and trails.

•The ECHDC board also approved the corporation’s $1,322,633 operating and $51,479,364 capital budgets for fiscal year 2022-23. The capital budget includes, but is not limited to acquisition costs; design costs of several Canalside and Outer Harbor capital projects; legal costs; property management and maintenance costs; the construction of Canalside parking improvements and the Outer Harbor phase one projects; and ECHDC’s contribution to Heritage Point and the North Aud Block.

ECHDC is governed by a nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors. The seven voting directors are recommended by the New York state governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corp. d/b/a Empire State Development as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The two non-voting, ex-officio director positions are held by the Erie County executive and the City of Buffalo mayor.

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