The first Citywide Ferry boat is now cruising in New York Harbor, signifying another milestone met as the city prepares to launch the new service this June.
The ferry, one of 20 vessels that will eventually operate at 22 docks across four boroughs, arrived in New York City on Sunday after a 2,000-mile journey from its manufacturers, Horizon Shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabama.
Officials with the New York City Economic Development Corp. and Citywide Ferry offered a first glimpse of the vessel Wednesday, touting features like seating for 150 passengers, "robust" concessions beyond your typical chips and soda (including alcohol), free Wi-Fi and plenty of outlets and charging ports.
“The great thing, unlike other modes of transit, there’s over 150 seats so you actually have a high degree of comfort and ability to sit down if you choose,” said Cameron Clark, senior vice president of Citywide Ferry by Hornblower. “A lot of the time people dread their morning commute … hopefully [with Citywide Ferry] people will be looking forward to their commute.”
With the first boat now in New York, Clark said the next steps will be testing the vessels as they arrive and training staff in myriad positions, from ferry crews to concessions and ticketing. In the meantime, construction and installation continues at 22 landings in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, Clark said.
Once all six routes are in operation, the city estimates 200 jobs will have been created -- about half of those jobs are expected to be filled this summer.
The city announced last week the Rockaway route -- chosen because residents there have one of the longest commute times in the city -- will be the first to launch in June. Two other routes -- South Brooklyn and Astoria -- will launch later this summer. No official launch date has been set for those two routes but “everything is still on track,” Clark said.
Clark said early adopters to the ferry as their main mode of commuting will also benefit when the existing East River Ferry rolls into the Citywide Ferry system.
Currently East River Ferry customers pay $4 per ride on weekdays and $6 on weekends, but when the route becomes part of the Citywide Ferry Service, they’ll pay a flat $2.75 per trip -- the same cost as a ride on the subway.
Two more ferry routes, the Soundview and Lower East Side, are expected to launch in 2018.
The arrival of the 19 other ferry boats will be staggered, with three more expected later this month.