Smooth Sailing for Ferry

Million Came Aboard To Cross River

One million people have used the East River Ferry to travel between Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn over the last year, more than double the original projection, it was announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Chrstine Quinn at a press conference in Williamsburg on Monday morning, July 16.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn greet passengers as they board the East River Ferry in Williamsburg on Monday, July 16. The mayor and speaker announced that the ferry has serviced one million passengers since its inception last year, far exceeding original ridership projections.

The pilot program operated by the BillyBey Ferry Company was launched as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy to promote sustainable economic development along the waterfront and enhance mobility around the harbor, has already become an important part of city’s transportation network. Last year, it was projected that 409,000 individuals would use the ferry.

Bloomberg and Quinn, who rode the ferry from Pier 11 in Williamsburg, also announced that in order to improve ferry service further, they will launch a survey to be administered online, on board the ferry, and via phone in the coming weeks.

“Using our waterways as transportation corridors makes for a greener and more livable city, and knits together rapidly growing neighborhoods in new ways,” said Bloomberg. “Ferry service is only going to get better for the next million passengers, whether they are headed to work or going to visit our parks or cultural institutions.”

“In just a little more than a year since its launch, the East River Ferry has consistently exceeded paid ridership predictions and provided residents and tourists alike with a fun, scenic alternative to getting around some of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods,” said Quinn. “I look forward to this ferry’s continued success and to expanding ferry service across the five boroughs.”

“Surpassing the one-million milestone is a testament to how popular our service has been with commuters, tourists and leisure travelers in the first year,” said Paul Goodman, CEO of BillyBey Ferry Company. “The new satisfaction survey will enable us to gauge our customers’ needs so we can continue to provide the next million riders with the outstanding service they have come to expect.”

The upcoming East River Ferry Survey will delve deep into the experience of existing riders. The survey, which will include on-board, online and targeted phone survey components, will include a random sample of commuter and recreational ferry riders, and attempt to capture residents that live within walking distance of ferry landings in Queens and Brooklyn. Through the survey, riders will be able to suggest improvements to the service and the city will in turn be able to gauge customer satisfaction with the East River Ferry and get a better understanding of passenger origin and final destination.

As many ferry systems have been attempted in New York City in the past and have failed, Bloomberg noted, it is important to understand why those in close proximity are not taking advantage of the service and what is necessary to motivate additional ridership.

To accommodate overwhelming demand last summer, larger vessels now operate on the weekends. The recently opened new landing at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 both accommodates these larger vessels, and increases capacity with the introduction of two slips and wider gangways allows for easier embarkation and disembarkation, reducing service delays and increasing reliability. The concession service serving locallyproduced options is now present on every ride across the system.

“In just over one year of pilot service, the East River Ferry has continued to exceed our expectations, in both ridership and economic impact,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “In response to this enormous success, we have already upgraded many aspects of the service and intend to continue to look for additional ways to do so. For this reason, we believe the future of ferry service along the East River to continue to be bright.”

“While I’m not surprised that the East River Ferry has been successful, reaching the one-million riders mark in just over a year is an amazing accomplishment,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “The East River ferry service has provided a muchneeded transportation link between communities along the Brooklyn waterfront. I look forward to seeing the service continue to grow as more New Yorkers experience the benefits of commuting by ferry.”

“We predicted that frequent ferry service between Manhattan and our growing waterfront neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens would bring convenience and pleasure to residents and help make the water part of the lives of New Yorkers as envisioned in our Comprehensive Waterfront Plan,” City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden said.

On weekdays, the 149-passenger vessels operate from 6:45 a.m. until 8:45 p.m. in both directions. During morning and evening peak hours, three boats service each landing every 20 minutes. During weekday off-peak hours, two boats run on a 30-minute schedule.

On Saturdays and Sundays, three 399-passenger vessels operate every 45 minutes from 9:35 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. Governors Island is served on the weekend route during the Island’s operating hours.

Ferry service was launched on June 13, 2011, as part of a three-year pilot program to provide year-round ferry service between East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and DUMBO in Brooklyn, and seasonal weekend service to Governor’s Island. Fares for passengers are $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited all-day pass, and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass.

Ferries accommodate bikes on board for an additional dollar. Ticketing machines are available at all commuter locations along with staffed ticket agents at some stops, and can also be purchased on a mobile device.

This initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide strategy launched by Bloomberg and Quinn, which lays out a sustainable blueprint for the City’s more than 500 miles of shoreline. WAVES has two core components: Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, released a year ago, which established long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, which set forth priority initiatives to be implemented by the end of 2013, many of which are being realized.

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