NYC Ferry orders three 350-passenger boats for service in 2018

NYC Ferry is formalizing a change order to add bigger boats to its fleet --  boats which can hold up to 350 passengers.
NYC Ferry is formalizing a change order to add bigger boats to its fleet — boats which can hold up to 350 passengers. Photo Credit: Diana Colapietro

After a summer of long lines and habitual delays, the city will be spending millions to order larger boats for NYC Ferry service, amNewYork has learned.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation is in the process of formalizing a change order with NYC Ferry operators, Hornblower, to bring three new boats into service next year that can accommodate 350 passengers — more than double the number of riders that can fit in the service’s current vessels, according to the EDC.

“With over 2 million passengers since May 1, New Yorkers have made their desire to travel by ferry loud and clear,” said EDC President James Patchett, who said the roomier boats will “help more New Yorkers get around the city.”

The city has contracts with two shipyards — Horizon Shipbuilding Inc. in Alabama and Metal Shark in Louisiana — that are working to fulfill an order of 20 ferries. The change order will have Metal Shark build the three larger boats. Each ferry will cost the city between $7 million and $7.5 million to build and should be in service in New York Harbor by summer 2018, the EDC said.

By that time, the city plans to launch two new routes for the Bronx and the Lower East Side. The three larger boats will be available to all routes, as needed, according an EDC spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that NYC Ferry had a capacity problem. Its 150-passenger capacity boats had often left excess riders stranded at docks, especially on summer weekends as riders headed to Rockaway Beach and Governors Island. To meet larger-than-anticipated crowds, Hornblower has adjusted schedules to reduce landing traffic and has chartered between two or three larger boats each day.

“It’s a good problem to have when more and more people are taking ferries than expected,” de Blasio said in May, when he first mentioned that the city would consider buying bigger boats. “And we’re going to keep meeting that demand, because it proves people want this option and they need this option.”