Beginning in September, the city will up the ticket price for the NYC Ferry from $2.75 to $4 to rein in costs of the heavily-subsidized maritime transit system, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.
Officials will simultaneously launch a new discounted $1.35 ticket for seniors, people with disabilities, and New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty line, who are also eligible for half-price MetroCards known as Fair Fares.
Other riders can still get tickets for the current price if they buy a 10-trip package for $27.50, and the higher price is supposed to target occasional ferry riders and tourists, Mayor Adams said Thursday.
“To offset our lower cost fares and help fund the system, we’re raising the prices for occasional riders,” Adams told reporters during a press conference at the Astoria ferry landing in Queens on July 14. “So those who come from outside the city, who are tourists, we’re raising that amount to $4 per ride, and that will offset the costs of those who are everyday New Yorkers that need to use the system.”
NYC Ferry will also get rid of the $1 fee to bring a bicycle on board by the September date, according to officials.
The new policy will take effect on Sept. 12.
A new “premium” direct service to the Rockaways dubbed the “Rockaway Rocket” begins on July 23, for $8 each way offering a direct ride to the beach with advance reservation at a charge of $8 each way.
The service will run on summer weekends and holidays until Labor Day weekend in addition to the regular Rockaway route, which often has lengthy lines of beachgoers during the warm months.
The changes comes a week after a scathing report from Comptroller Brad Lander’s office that found the city hid $224 million in costs for the ferry under former Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The review also found that the public subsidized each ride by up to nearly $15 to keep the fare the as a trip on subways and buses, which are operated by the separate state Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The service launched under de Blasio in 2017. The city’s quasi-public Economic Development Corporation oversees the ferries, which are run by private company Hornblower.
Critics of the service have pointed out that it churns through millions taxpayer money while serving largely white and wealthy waterfront communities, but Adams tried to contest the reports, even though they’re based on the city’s own ridership surveys.
“For those who say it’s just for the affluent New Yorkers, it’s just wrong. It is for every New Yorker and the more we introduce New Yorkers to utilize it, they’re going to see how possible it is to move about this city,” Adams said.
“I’m proud to support our ferry system, I believe in it,” hizzoner added.
To get more lower-income New Yorkers on board, the city will distribute free trip vouchers for every NYCHA resident living within a mile of a ferry landing.
The city will look into other ways to bring in revenues, such as sponsorships and film or TV productions.
That and the new fares aim to push down the taxpayer subsidy, which de Blasio originally said would be $6.60 per ride, but the EDC’s chief declined to give a specific target.
“I am gonna be hesitant to give you an exact number. I think that is often a mistake,” EDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball told reporters. “Everything we are doing is driving towards bringing that subsidy gap down and we think it will come down.”
“But we also live in the real world. We are rebidding this contract, we’re in a hyper-inflationary moment, I don’t know what the outcomes gonna be,” Kimball continued. “But we need to keep moving in the direction of making it both a more accessible system, but one that’s more financially viable for the long term.”
EDC will launch a formal bidding process known as a request for proposals, or RFP, this summer for Hornblower or a new operator to take over a new contract to run the vessels starting on October 1.