Ridership on NYC Ferry much higher than anticipated: NYCEDC

NYC Ferry proves to be far more popular than the de Blasio administration expected during its inaugural 2017 season.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Bill Parry

In a final ridership review of its 2017 inaugural year, NYC Ferry learned it had served nearly three million passengers across all four routes currently in operation. Based on preliminary projections, the figure was 34 percent higher than expected.

“NYC Ferry has proven to be more popular than we could have hoped, and nearly three million riders agree it’s the best way to get around the city,” city Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett said. “Now we’re looking forward to launching two more routes in 2018, helping even more riders to good jobs and opportunities.”

In response to the high ridership, and long lines at many landings during much of the summer, NYC Ferry will be adding six new vessels outfitted with bigger engines with a capacity to hold 349 passengers. That should help move passengers on the Rockaway route, which carried 545,000 passengers after launching May 1.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) hailed the growth in popularity but plans to begin a discussion to have the ferry system provide free transfers for riders that can be used on all MTA buses and trains. Currently, passengers pay a $2.75 fare for a one-way ticket on the NYC Ferry, and an additional $2.75 for any MTA bus or train they wish to use.

“As the MTA continues to work on the next generation of the MetroCard, I ask that they take into consideration the growing number of people who use the NYC Ferry,” Addabbo said. “With the number of passengers on the NYC Ferry likely to increase in the coming years, it would be a major benefit for the riders if they could continue their route by using a free transfer onto an MTA-operated bus or train. Joining these parts of our city’s public transportation system will help everyone travel faster.”

NYCEDC Spokeswoman Stephanie Baez responded favorably to Addabbo’s suggestion.

“As the MTA works to implement a new fare system, we’ll continue to discuss opportunities to integrate payment options,” she said.

Additionally, Addabbo plans to contact the NYCEDC about possibly expanding its free ferry bus shuttle service to residents of Broad Channel and Howard Beach.

“Currently, residents of Broad Channel who drive and park their cars before boarding the NYC Ferry in the Rockaways can do it for free, while residents of Howard Beach who wish to do the same are inundated with the toll for crossing the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge,” Addabbo said. “That just adds an additional fare for those people, which isn’t fair. That is why I would like to see the buses that bring people into the Rockaways to get the ferry expanded to Broad Channel and Howard Beach. This would provide these residents with an alternate way of getting to the ferry, and if the MTA transfer plan moves forward, it would be a free transfer from that bus onto the ferry.”

The NYEDC ridership review also showed that 290,000 passengers traveled the Astoria route, which launched Aug. 29.

“I am proud of the success of our expanded NYC Ferry system,” Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “It has brought a vital transit option for residents of the Hallets peninsula and western Astoria while using our city’s greatest resource — our waterways. Since opening the Astoria route, we have seen ferry riders double citywide, which is a testament to the success of this new transportation system. I look forward to continuing to work with NYCEDC as the system grows.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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