Forget Flying Cars: We Need Floating Ones

The first of a planned fleet of 20 new NYC ferries makes its maiden voyage in New York Harbor (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Waterways like rivers, lakes, and canals were the original interstates; most of the world’s greatest cities were harbor towns that were able to capitalize on their access to shipping. Well into the early 20th century, urbanites got around on water. In most cities, however, the rise of trains and cars, the development of more extensive bridge networks, and the general emphasis on terrestrial mass transit caused a steep decline in ferry ridership. Many intra-urban passenger ferry networks were out of business by the mid-20th century. But, faced with traffic congestion and a declining enthusiasm for urban highway construction, many cities are now reinvesting in water transit infrastructure: They’re expanding or considering growth for existing services, or adding new ones.

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