Expanded Routes, Bigger Boats Promised de Blasio

Love NYC Ferry? Get Ready for More

Updated 3 weeks ago David Stone

August 29, 2017, City Council Member Ben Kallos waits to greet first riders as RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal steps off as NYC Ferry's first passenger for Roosevelt Island
August 29, 2017, City Council Member Ben Kallos waits to greet first riders as RIOC CEO Susan Rosenthal steps off as NYC Ferry's first passenger for Roosevelt Island
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

 "NYC Ferry’s ridership could grow to as many as 9 million annual passengers by 2023," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press release today, "twice as many passengers as initially projected, and that the City will invest in a bigger ferry fleet to meet that demand."

Ferry service began for Roosevelt Island on August 29th, last year, at a time when "Original projections predicted 4.6 million riders once all six routes are operational and fully rolled-out.

"However, NYC Ferry carried 3.7 million passengers in its first year," the Mayor's office reported, "with only four routes operating—and only two of them running for the entire 12 months. Updated projections based on the first year of service now show that demand could reach as high as 9 million riders per year by 2023."

Near spectacular anticipated growth not only signals success for NYC Ferry but also may mean improved, longterm fiscal health, cementing the system after de Blasio term limits out of office.

"The projected growth in ridership of the NYC Ferry system is a perfect example of what New Yorkers do when they are offered a service that is reliable, safe and consistent -- we take advantage," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island.

"I know for a fact that residents on Roosevelt Island love riding their NYC Ferry, just like I do. I continue to look forward to inaugurating a second ferry landing in my district later this year. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his vision developing NYC Ferry and ensuring the City keeps up with the demand in the years to come." 

The final two routes of the first phase of ferry service – Soundview and the Lower East Side – are expected to begin operating in late summer 2018. They join the four existing routes: East River, Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria.

As dawn brightened the skies, the first NYC Ferry made its way to Roosevelt Island, last summer.
As dawn brightened the skies, the first NYC Ferry made its way to Roosevelt Island, last summer.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The City will invest $300 million in capital over the next five years, including $35 million in Fiscal Year 2019. These include, according to the mayor's press office:

  • Increasing capacity by expanding ferry fleet, nearly doubling its size
  • A second homeport facility to house and maintain the expanded fleet, in addition to the first homeport at the Brooklyn Navy Yard nearing completion
  • Infrastructure improvements and upgrades to existing NYC Ferry barges and landings to accommodate larger crowds
  • Improvements to the City’s two main ferry terminals, Pier 11/Wall Street and E 34th Street, which see the highest traffic on a daily basis. These include wider gangways and new bow-loading locations to increase the number of vessels that can dock simultaneously.
Heading into the higher demand spring and summer season, the Mayor also promised to...  
  • Deploy 3 brand new 350-passenger capacity NYC Ferry boats by later this summer to service the busiest routes.
  • Deploy up to 8 charter vessels this summer, each with capacity between 250-500 passengers.
  • Beginning Memorial Day Weekend, Governors Island will now be the last stop on the East River and South Brooklyn routes, increasing service to the popular summer destination.
  • Increase service frequency with boats arriving every 20-30 minutes on weekdays and weekends on all four routes, compared to 25-60 headways for the same service last summer.
  • Launch a new express service on the Rockaway route to and from Pier 11/Wall Street during weekday rush hour and on weekends, doubling capacity during these busiest times.
  • Increase service from Brooklyn Army Terminal by 20 percent on the Rockaway route.
  • Increase staffing at ferry landings to assist riders with queuing and boarding.
Not sitting on its laurels, the City’s Economic Development Corporation will study potential route expansions later this year.

Who knows how far we'll be able to travel by water in the next few years?

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