A fleet of "nerd buses" and "nerd boats" could be ferrying around the next New York City tech entrepreneurs, if Senator Charles Schumer's colorful budget request is granted. “You don’t need a PhD to know that connecting these neighborhoods through a ‘nerd bus’ is a no-brainer," Schumer said in a statement. The US senator wants to directly connect burgeoning tech hubs in NYC with the hope of turning it into an east coast Silicon Valley. His newest request is to better fund an existing ferry service. "The East River Ferry expansion project can become a ‘nerd boat’ that connects our rapidly-expanding tech hubs," the senator explained today in a press release touting the plan.
Schumer's playful praise of tech industry employees follows the announced opening of a major Cornell technology campus on New York City's Roosevelt Island. Cornell competed with universities including Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, and New York University to build the campus, which city officials hope will assist in turning NYC into an epicenter of tech startups. The senator is requesting additional funds from the Federal Highway Administration and the NY Department of Transportation, which would come from an already allocated $1 billion federal budget for transportation in New York state. The ferries and buses would connect areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, expanding existing transportation options.
Major web properties including Foursquare and Tumblr are already headquartered in NYC, but unlike Silicon Valley giants, the companies haven't seen an expanse of small startups sprouting up around them. However, over the past year we've begun to see the power of a select few startups throughout the city. The Manhattan-based Betaworks purchased and rebuilt Digg, and it's now working on Giphy and an RSS reader as well. And earlier last year, several ex-Microsoft employees that had relocated to the city and formed FiftyThree released the drawing app Paper. Schumer's certainly hoping to see more companies like these choose to locate in his state's biggest city. The final funding decision will be up to state and federal agencies, but Schumer is obviously doing his best to bring attention to what would otherwise be a mundane request.