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NYC Ferry service: What to know about the commuter boats

The service is expected to serve 9 million riders by 2023.

A NYC Ferry heads toward Manhattan from Clason

A NYC Ferry heads toward Manhattan from Clason Point Park in the Bronx on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

The slick new boats zipping around New York’s waterways provide an alternative means of transportation for commuters and tourists. Here’s what you need to know about the NYC Ferry service.

What’s new

The city Economic Development Corporation has launched a feasibility study in an effort to identify new locations that could support ferry access. 

NYC Ferry's LES route, the six and final planned route, launched on Aug. 29. The service connects Long Island City to the Lower East Side and the Financial District, at Wall Street/Pier 11, with stops at East 34th Street, Stuyvesant Cove and Corlears Hook. The entire ride is estimated to take about 32 minutes.

What’s next

Now that the LES route has launched, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is looking into creating more routes. "There's a lot of parts of the city that want ferry service," the mayor said in August. "We'll be making those decisions by the end of the year."

The city allocated about $335 million to launch the service. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in May that the city would contribute an additional $300 million to pay for a larger fleet and infrastructure upgrades with the hope of carrying 9 million passengers per year by 2023.

The feasibility study will start with input from elected officials and community board members from coastal communities. The EDC will then look at factors such as population density, existing access to transit, travel time comparisons and water depths. The public can also suggest possible ferry sites by filling out an online form. Suggestions must be submitted by Oct. 15.

How we got here

NYC Ferry had its maiden voyage on May 1, 2017. Since then, 6.5 million people have ridden the ferry service.

Other NYC Ferry routes include Rockaway, East River, Astoria, South Brooklyn and Soundview.

About 18,000 people rely on the ferry network every weekday and some 28,000 riders take advantage of the service on weekends, per the EDC. A one-way ticket costs $2.75.

The ferry service had an on-time performance of 93 percent during the second quarter of 2018, which spanned from April 1 through June 30, according to the EDC.

City schoolchildren have previously entered contests to name some of the vessels, whose monikers include "Rainbow Cruise," “Seas the Day" and "Lunchbox."

Controversy

Certain communities, such as those in Coney Island and Canarsie, have said that they are underserved by mass transit and would benefit from ferry service.

The ferry, despite carrying significantly fewer riders per year than the subway and buses, enjoys higher tax subsidies per rider, causing transit advocates to call on the mayor to refocus his efforts on the subway. The subway serves 1.75 billion riders per year with a subsidy of $1.29 per rider, according to the MTA. The ferry is expected to serve 9 million riders per year by 2023 with a $6.60 subsidy per rider.

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