NYC Ferry
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NYC Ferry

NYC Ferry
NYC Ferry logo.svg
Ferry Lunch Box May 2017.png
Ferry Lunch Box underway, May 2017.
LocaleNew York City
WaterwayAtlantic Ocean, East River, Jamaica Bay, Lower and Upper Bays
Transit typePassenger ferry
OperatorHornblower Cruises
Began operationMay 1, 2017 (May 1, 2017)
No. of lines
  • 6 in service
  • 2 planned
No. of vessels23
No. of terminals21 (6 planned)
Daily ridership12,500 (projected)
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

NYC Ferry is a network of ferry routes in New York City operated by Hornblower Cruises. As of August 2018, there are six routes connecting 21 ferry piers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. NYC Ferry has a total of 23 vessels, providing half-hourly to hourly service on each of the routes. As of January 2019, two additional routes and six new piers are planned; the expansion would extend the system to Staten Island, the only New York City borough not served by NYC Ferry.

Prior to NYC Ferry, there had been many ferries that traversed the East River and Hudson River, although by the 1960s, almost all ferry services citywide had been discontinued due to the popularity of road and rail transit across the rivers. Ferries in New York City saw a revival in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result of two studies in 2011 and 2013 that showed the impacts of these recent ferries, the city officially proposed its own ferry service in 2013, separate from existing New York City ferry systems such as NY Waterway, New York Water Taxi, and the Staten Island Ferry.

NYC Ferry was officially announced by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015, under the tentative name of Citywide Ferry Service. It was planned to launch in two phases. The first phase launched on May 1, 2017, with service along the East River and to the Rockaways. Routes to Bay Ridge and Astoria respectively started in June and August of that year. A second phase, in August 2018, launched to the Lower East Side and Soundview. Ferries to Coney Island and to St. George, Staten Island, are proposed to launch in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Single-ride trips on the system cost $2.75, with monthly and bike fares also available, but there is no free transfer to other modes of transport in the city. NYC Ferry also provides free shuttle buses in the Rockaways, connecting to the ferry stop there.

The ferry service was originally expected to transport 4.5 to 4.6 million passengers annually. Higher-than-expected ridership on NYC Ferry routes in summer 2017 caused officials to order new vessels and expand the capacity of existing vessels. In spring 2018, the annual ridership estimates were revised to 9 million, double the original projection, and a further expansion of the NYC Ferry fleet was announced. Despite its crowding, the ferry has generally received positive reviews from passengers. However, there has been criticism over the highly subsided nature of the service, and NYC Ferry's low ridership compared to the city's other public transit modes.

Background

Early ferries

Up until the 19th century, during a time when the city's waterways did not have bridge or tunnel crossings, there were many ferries traversing the area.[1] New York's first ferries date to when the city was a Dutch colony named New Amsterdam, which comprises modern-day Lower Manhattan. A ferry across the East River, between New Amsterdam and modern-day Brooklyn, was created in 1642 by Cornelius Dircksen,[2] who was reportedly "the earliest ferryman of whom the records speak."[3] By 1654, New Amsterdam's government passed ordinances to regulate East River ferries.[4] The first ferry to New Jersey was founded in 1661, traveling across the Hudson River from Manhattan to Communipaw (now part of Jersey City).[5] Ferries along the Harlem River, between uptown Manhattan and the Bronx, started in 1667, and a ferry to Staten Island was started in 1712.[6]:38 The number of ferries would grow, and by 1904, there would be 147 ferry services operating in New York City waters.[7]

One of the first documented horse-powered "team" boats in commercial service in the United States was the Fulton Ferry Company, an East River ferry run that Robert Fulton implemented in 1814.[8] The South Ferry Company, founded in 1836, merged with the Fulton Ferry Company three years later, and the combined companies underwent a series of acquisitions, eventually owning many of the East River ferries.[9] However, by 1918, the construction of bridges and New York City Subway tunnels across the East River resulted in some companies, such as the New York and East River Ferry Company between Yorkville and Astoria, operating at a loss.[10] Even with city ownership, many of the East River ferries were superseded by bridges, road tunnels, and subway tunnels by the mid-20th century. The Yorkville-Astoria ferry, for instance, stopped in 1936 after being replaced by the Triborough Bridge.[11]

On the other side of Manhattan, there were a myriad of Hudson River ferries at one point, with boat routes running from New Jersey to twenty passenger docks in Manhattan.[5] However, the construction of the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, and George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey, as well as the growth of car ownership in the United States, meant that these ferries were no longer needed by the mid-20th century. As a result, in 1967, the last cross-Hudson ferry (between Hoboken and Battery Park City) ceased operations.[5][7]

The Richmond Turnpike Company started a steamboat service from Manhattan to Staten Island in 1817. Cornelius Vanderbilt bought the company in 1838, and it was sold to the Staten Island Railroad Company in 1864. The Staten Island Ferry was then sold to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1884, and the City of New York assumed control of the ferry in 1905.[6]:172 The ferry, which still operates, was at one point the only commuter ferry within the entire city, after the discontinuation of the Hoboken ferry in 1967.[5]

Despite the discontinuation of ferry service to New Jersey, people moved to locations along the Hudson River waterfront there. In 1986, waterfront settlements like Bayonne, Highlands, Keyport, Port Liberte, and Weehawken saw a reinstatement of their ferry service to Manhattan, under the operation of NY Waterway.[5] By 1989, around 3,000 of the settlements' combined 10,500 residents paid a $5.00 fare in each direction to board the NY Waterway ferries, despite competition from cheaper alternatives like the PATH train system.[5] Around this time, there were plans to create ferry routes between Inwood and Atlantic City; South Amboy and Wall Street; and from the city proper to New Jersey, Connecticut, and Westchester.[5]

Revival of ferries

In early 2011, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and the NYC & Company water travel initiative NYHarborWay, worked with the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) to release a Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study, in which it examined over 40 potential locations for a ferry system in New York City.[12]:1 The study was commissioned in order to examine transport alternatives for neighborhoods along New York City's shores.[12]:1, 23-47 It also discussed the East River Ferry, which was set to enter service later that year.[12]:1, 103-111, 130-133, 165 The study identified potential ferry routes to western Manhattan and Riverdale; eastern Manhattan, the South Bronx, and Co-op City; the northern Brooklyn and Queens shorelines; the South Shore of Staten Island; and southwestern Brooklyn, southern Brooklyn, and the Rockaways.[12]:9-14

NYC Ferry's East River line in its former NY Waterway livery

In June 2011, the NY Waterway-operated East River Ferry line started operations.[13] The route was a 7-stop East River service that runs in a loop between East 34th Street and Hunters Point, making two intermediate stops in Brooklyn and three in Queens. The ferry, an alternative to the New York City Subway, cost $4 per one-way ticket.[13] It was instantly popular, with two to six times the number of passengers that the city predicted would ride the ferries. From June to November 2011, the ferry accommodated 2,862 riders on an average weekday, as opposed to a projection of 1,488 riders, and it had 4,500 riders on an average weekend, six times the city's projected ridership; in total, the ferry saw 350,000 riders in that period, over 250% of the initial ridership forecast of 134,000 riders.[14]

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012, massive infrastructural damage to the IND Rockaway Line ( train) south of the Howard Beach-JFK Airport station severed all direct subway connections between the Rockaways, Broad Channel, and the Queens mainland for seven months. Ferry operator SeaStreak began running a city-subsidized ferry service between a makeshift ferry slip at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway Park, Queens, and Pier 11/Wall Street, then continuing on to the East 34th Street Ferry Landing. A stop at Brooklyn Army Terminal was added in August 2013 because of the reconstruction of the Montague Street Tunnel, which temporarily suspended R train service through the tunnel.[15] The ferry proved to be popular and its license was extended several times, as city officials evaluated the ridership numbers to determine whether to establish the service on a permanent basis. Between its inception and December 2013, the service had carried close to 200,000 riders.[16]

The NYCEDC study was updated in 2013, following the introduction of the SeaStreak Rockaway ferry.[17] The study, called "CFS2013", showed the impact of ferry services in New York City, citing the success of the East River ferry. Specifically, ferry service raised the values of real estate within 1 mile (1.6 km) of ferry landings by an average of 1.2%; spurred new construction near ferry stops; added more transport options to neighborhoods with few transit alternatives; and helped relieve crowding on other parts of New York City's transport network.[17]:15-21 The study also suggested extra routes that could be added to the ferry system, with proposed routes that would serve new development in all five boroughs.[17]:22-30 The specific idea of a citywide ferry was also first proposed in the study.[17]:31-69

When the city government announced its budget in late June 2014 for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, the ferry only received a $2 million further appropriation, enough to temporarily extend it again through October.[18] The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that there was not enough ridership to justify the cost of operation.[19] Despite last-minute efforts by local transportation advocates, civic leaders, and elected officials, ferry service ended on October 31, 2014. They promised to continue efforts to have the service restored.[20][21] This led to many negotiations between the mayor's office and the parties interested in reopening the ferry. The mayor's office eventually agreed to restart the Rockaway ferry when the NYC Ferry system opened.[19]

Proposal

NYC Ferry, first proposed by the NYCEDC as the "Citywide Ferry Service," was announced by de Blasio's administration in 2015 as part of a proposed citywide ferry system that would reach through the five boroughs, though a Staten Island terminal had not been finalized.[1][22] The NYCEDC promised the project, along with the Brooklyn-Queens Connector proposal, as a way to reinvent the city's transit system.[23] Routes were to go to Astoria, Bay Ridge, the Rockaways, the Lower East Side, Soundview, South Brooklyn, and Brooklyn Navy Yard.[24] NY Waterway's East River route was to be transferred to NYC Ferry system as part of the plan.[25] Funding was being sought for a route to Coney Island and Stapleton, but it was not included in NYC Ferry's implementation timeline.[26][27]

The site of a landing at Gantry Plaza in Long Island City
The future site of a NYC Ferry landing at Gantry Plaza in Long Island City

A fare for one trip was set at $2.75, the same as on other modes of transportation in New York City. Free transfers would be offered only to other NYC Ferry lines, meaning that riders would pay another fare if they transferred to one of the city's other mass-transit systems.[28] Transfers to other lines would be issued on request.[29] Prior to the implementation of NYC Ferry, other ferry lines in the city had weekday and weekend fares of $4 and $6, respectively.[30] The relatively low fare of NYC Ferry was made in contrast to some other major cities like San Francisco and Sydney, where ferry fares are higher than the fares of other modes of mass transit in these cities. The city said that the low ferry fares were intended to make the ferries affordable, while de Blasio stated that it is intended to promote "transit equity".[1] Assuming that the ferry system met the projection of 4.5 million annual riders, the city would pay a subsidy of $6.60 per rider, making the ferry the third-most subsidized form of transportation in the city.[31]

NYC Ferry was to cost $325 million[1] with the city contributing an additional operating subsidy of $10 million to $20 million per year.[24] The privately operated ferries[24] were offered under a 6-year contract to Hornblower Cruises, which would receive at least $30 million annually during the course of the contract.[26][32] After having accepted the contract, Hornblower Cruises was selected as the ferry's operator on March 16, 2016.[30][33]

Some of the ferry's six proposed routes were originally supposed to be operational in June 2017,[23] but the implementation date was later moved to May 1.[34] Under the 2015 plan, the whole system is expected to come into full service by 2018.[22] The system includes routes that were formerly under NY Waterway, most notably the East River route.[22] There would be at least 18 boats needed for rush-hour operation.[30] Twelve boats would be deployed in 2017, while the other six would be put in service the next year.[26] The number of boats was later revised slightly to 20, including three boats that would be upgraded later.[35][36]

The creation of the ferry system was supposed to relieve some of the load of the city's transportation system, which is largely "the footprint of an early-19th-century transit map" according to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and cannot accommodate the city's fast population growth.[1] As a result of projected desire for the ferries, annual ridership is expected to eventually reach 4.5 million[1] to 4.6 million.[24] Even though this amounted to only about 12,500 daily riders (compared to the New York City Subway's 5 million riders each weekday), one fellow at the Manhattan Institute said that "every person you're not cramming on to the trains helps".[30] New York City's deputy mayor for housing and economic development stated, "Our aim is to make this thing as big as possible."[1]

Construction and opening

Planning

NYC Ferry
 SV 
Throggs Neck (opens 2021)
 SV 
Soundview
 AST 
Astoria
 SV 
90th Street/Yorkville
 AST 
Roosevelt Island
 AST   LES 
Long Island City
 SG 
West Midtown/Pier 79 (starts 2020)
 ER   AST   LES   SV 
34th Street
 ER 
Hunters Point South
 ER 
Greenpoint
 LES 
Stuyvesant Cove
 ER 
North Williamsburg
 LES 
Grand Street
 ER 
South Williamsburg
 SG 
Battery Park City (starts 2020)
 AST 
Brooklyn Navy Yard (opens 2019)
 ER   SB 
DUMBO
 ER   RB   AST   SB   LES   SV   CI 
Wall Street
 SI 
Whitehall Terminal
 SB 
Atlantic Avenue
 ER   SB 
Governors Island (summers only)
 SB 
Red Hook
 RB   SB 
Sunset Park
 SG   SI 
St. George
 SB   CI 
Bay Ridge
 CI 
Coney Island (opens 2021)
 RB 
Rockaway

The colored boxes on the left correspond to the following routes,
which serve the respective stops listed on the right.
 RB : Rockaway route
 AST : Astoria route
 SB : South Brooklyn route
 LES : Lower East Side route
 SV : Soundview route
 ER : East River route
 SG : St. George route (starts 2020)
 CI : Coney Island route (starts 2021)
 SI : Staten Island Ferry (not part of NYC Ferry)

In March and April 2015, the city started the process of environmental review for Citywide Ferry.[37]:2 The city requested the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on August 12, 2015, which was completed by April 18, 2016.[38] After public comment, the final EIS was approved on July 28, 2016.[38][39]:2 The project also had a City Environmental Quality Review, which analyzed the ferry's effects on open space, urban design, natural resources, nearby transportation, noise pollution, air quality, the environment, and public health.[37][39]:2

Construction

From January to June 2016, the city bought 4 boats for the proposed ferry service for a combined total of $6 million, with plans for a total of 30 boats over the coming years.[1] Hornblower Cruises requested 13 boats for the first routes, each costing $4 million each.[1][40] The total combined cost of the boats is more than $70 million.[1][41] In addition, the city was building 13 ferry landings at a cost of $85 million, as well as a boat depot.[1] One of these docks, in Astoria, was built privately as part of the Astoria Cove development.[42] In September 2016, construction on 19 ferries began at two shipyards in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and Jeanerette, Louisiana,[43][40] with 200 full-time employees working on the boats.[44][45] The contract with the two shipyards is unusual because shipbuilding contracts are usually with only one company. However, NYC Ferry executives had purposely chosen these two companies because of their expertise and because of the unlikeliness that both shipyards would be destroyed by hurricanes.[40]

Ferry implementation required permission from several entities. Before the ferry could start service, the NYCDOT was required to approve a new transportation mode within its service area. Additionally, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and United States Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) was supposed to give NYC Ferry permission to use of the landings, with the United States Coast Guard advising the CoE's approval of a permit as well as monitoring the design of vessels.[38] In addition, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation had to allow ferries to use the landing at Gantry Plaza State Park, and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation was consulted so they could give permission for the Roosevelt Island landing to be built.[38] By September 2016, the Gantry Plaza landing had been approved.[46]

In December 2016, Hornblower purchased the rights to operate the East River route for $21 million. The route had been operated by Billybey Ferries, which had a contract to operate the line under the NY Waterway banner.[47][25] As part of the sale, Hornblower paid $6 million for four older boats already in use on the East River ferry.[47]

The first completed new vessel left the Bayou La Batre facility on around March 24, 2017,[48] and it arrived in New York on April 2, 2017.[49] On April 6, Mayor de Blasio announced that the service had been rebranded from Citywide Ferry to NYC Ferry, and that the start of service had been moved up a month from the original schedule, with the East River, South Brooklyn, and Rockaway routes to begin on May 1,[34] a month ahead of schedule.[50] Under the new schedule, the South Brooklyn route began on June 1[51] and the Astoria route began on August 29,[52][29] while the Lower East Side and Soundview routes are still to begin in 2018.[34][50]

Opening and high ridership

Articulated gangway at the South Williamsburg landing

The first two routes were opened on May 1, 2017.[53][54] On its first day of service, NYC Ferry saw more than 6,400 riders; of these, 1,828 rode the Rockaway ferry while the rest rode the East River Ferry.[55] In its first week, the ferry transported 49,000 riders, of which 38,000 used the East River Ferry while the remaining 11,000 used the Rockaway route.[56] Although the service had a 95% on-time rate during the first week, NYC Ferry chartered a boat from NY Waterway due to delays on some routes.[47] NYC Ferry also continued to temporarily use some of the older East River Ferry boats on that route.[47] The ferry grew so popular that during the Memorial Day weekend in May 2017, the routes saw 26,000 passengers over two days, including 9,600 riders on the East River Ferry during each day.[57] Described by The New York Times as the service's "biggest test so far",[57] the 2017 Memorial Day weekend saw reports of hour-long waits for overcrowded ferries.[58]

In June, NYC Ferry had to charter two 400-passenger charter boats for the East Ferry route to alleviate crowding on the routes serving Governors Island[35] while packed boats skipped stops along these routes.[58] By June 22, the ferry had carried 500,000 passengers, a milestone officials had not expected to be reached for several months.[59] Due to unexpected demand, crowding became worse as the summer of 2017 progressed, with packed-to-capacity boats and long waits becoming more common.[60] By July 2017, there were an estimated 83,500 riders on the South Brooklyn route in one month, exceeding the original ridership estimate by more than 30,000.[36] The East River ferry saw about 7,200 riders per average weekday since being taken over by NYC Ferry, up from 3,257 average weekday riders in 2013.[61] That month, three new boats being built were also revised to fit more passengers.[35][36] A 500-passenger boat was also borrowed from SeaStreak for the Rockaway route.[62] By July 26, 2017, NYC Ferry had carried 1 million riders.[63][64]

In August 2017, NYC Ferry filed plans to build four ferry docks: one in Soundview, one in Yorkville, one near Stuyvesant Cove, and one on the Lower East Side.[65][66]:4-5 It also sought to add two more piers to its home port at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.[66]:5 The Soundview route was revised so that it would stop at East 34th Street instead of at East 62nd Street, which would no longer be built.[67] That month, Brooklyn politicians called for docks to be built in Coney Island and Canarsie, owing to the new system's popularity.[68] The Astoria route was projected to carry 1,800 daily passengers upon opening, by which point the service had seen 1.4 million riders.[69] Due to even more ridership demand, three extra ferries were ordered in September 2017, by which time over 2 million people had ridden the ferry.[70] By November 2017, there had been a total of 2.5 million rides on NYC Ferry, compared to the 1.8 million that had been projected by this time, and two of the four routes had already surpassed ridership milestones that the city had not anticipated would be reached until 2019. At that point, the city had spent $16.5 million to subsidize the ferry.[71][72] The New York Post reported in November 2017 that five of the new ferryboats had already been taken out of service due to leaks. According to the Post, the boats were taken out of service starting in October after Coast Guard inspectors observed severe corrosion on the hulls.[73] Hornblower subsequently confirmed the report, saying that the cause of the corrosion was misaligned keel coolers, and that three vessels had been removed from service in October for repair, followed by three more in November.[74]

Construction on the four remaining NYC Ferry docks in Manhattan and the Bronx started on February 28, 2018, in preparation for the start of Lower East Side and Soundview service that summer.[75][76] In May 2018, the first anniversary of the ferry system's opening, de Blasio announced that NYC Ferry had received an extra $300 million to purchase extra boats, increase fleet capacity, and expand service. The number of new boats was not specified, but it was expected that there would be a mix of standard 150-passenger boats and large 350-passenger boats; as a stopgap, Hornblower would charter up to eight 500-passenger boats for temporary use on NYC Ferry. At this point, the city planned that the service would see 9 million riders per year, double the original annual estimate of 4.5 million riders.[77] However, critics stated that the MTA's subway and bus systems carried a combined 7 million passengers per day, and that such a large subsidy for NYC Ferry was disproportionate to the number of people who rode the ferry.[78] According to The Village Voice, NYC Ferry was aiming to transport 24,500 daily riders by 2023, a figure smaller than the 2017 daily ridership of 14 local bus routes. NYC Ferry had averaged 10,000 daily riders in 2017, while the bus and subway system had respectively carried 2 million and 5 million daily riders on average.[79]

In August 2018, it was announced that service on NYC Ferry's Soundview and Lower East Side routes would begin that month.[80] The route to Soundview opened on August 15, 2018,[81][82] followed by the Lower East Side route on August 29.[83][84] New York City Transit extended select Bx27 bus trips to Clason Point Park to serve the Soundview route in summer 2018.[85]

Further expansion

Following the opening of the Lower East Side route in August 2018, de Blasio stated that he planned for the system to expand further.[86] In January 2019, de Blasio announced further expansions to the NYC Ferry system to take place by 2021. There would be two new routes to Staten Island and Coney Island, as well as extensions of two additional routes. The Staten Island route would travel between Manhattan's West Side and the St. George Terminal in St. George, Staten Island, and would open in 2020. The Coney Island route would travel between Pier 11 Wall Street and Coney Island, and would start operating in 2021. The Astoria route would make an extra stop at Brooklyn Navy Yard, while the Soundview route would be extended from Soundview east to Throggs Neck. The South Brooklyn route would terminate at Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the existing Bay Ridge ferry pier would be served by the Coney Island route.[87][88] The service expansion required that the city increase its per-rider subsidy to $8.[89]

Rider reception

According to an August 2017 customer satisfaction survey from the NYCEDC, passengers had a mostly positive view of the NYC Ferry system, with 93% of riders giving positive ratings.[90][79] Almost 70% of the 1,300 riders surveyed gave the ferry the highest possible rating.[91] In May 2018, The Village Voice conducted an informal demographic survey of NYC Ferry riders, since the NYCEDC had not officially released the rider-demographic data. The Voice found that most of the 60 riders it encountered were using the ferry simply because it was less crowded and more comfortable compared to the subway. Additionally, many of the surveyed riders worked in higher-income jobs.[79]

Routes

This is a list of the six routes that are part of the new ferry system.[92][93] There was a phased introduction of these routes. Phase 1 covers the routes implemented in 2017 and provides new service to the Rockaways, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Roosevelt Island, and Astoria in addition to areas already served by the East River Ferry and the Governor's Island Ferry. Phase 2 covers the routes implemented in 2018 and provides new service to Soundview, Yorkville, Kips Bay, and the Lower East Side.[23][32][41][38] Two additional routes, to Coney Island, Brooklyn, and to St. George, Staten Island, are expected to start operating in 2021 and 2020 respectively.[87][88] There are two main Manhattan terminals at Wall Street and East 34th Street.[39]:5

Start date Route[93] Terminals[39]:6[87][88][93] Intermediate stops[39]:6[87][88][93]
North South
Preexisting
service
     East River Ferry[94] East 34th Street Pier 11/Wall Street
2017      Rockaway Ferry[95] Pier 11/Wall Street Rockaway (Beach 108th Street)
     Rockaway Express Ferry[95] (Spring/Summer Seasonal service) Operates non-stop skipping Brooklyn Army Terminal
     South Brooklyn Ferry[96] Pier 11/Wall Street Bay Ridge
     Astoria Ferry[97] Astoria Pier 11/Wall Street
2018      Soundview Ferry[98] Soundview Pier 11/Wall Street
     Lower East Side Ferry[99] Long Island City Pier 11/Wall Street
Starting 2020      St. George Ferry[100] West Midtown/Pier 79 at Hudson River Park St. George Terminal
Starting 2021      Coney Island Ferry[101] Coney Island Pier 11/Wall Street
  • Bay Ridge

Astoria Ferry

Astoria ferries run in both directions with year-round service running every 25 minutes during rush hours, every 50 minutes during weekday middays and evenings, and every 35 minutes during weekends.[97][34]

The route will stop at Brooklyn Navy Yard Pier 72 starting in May 2019. The stop will be located between the East 34th Street landing and Pier 11/Wall Street stops.[87][88][102]

East River Ferry

The East River Ferry in its former NY Waterway livery

East River ferries operate in both directions with year-round service running every 30 minutes. Service operates to or from Governors Island during summer weekends only from 10:15 am to 6:30 pm.[94]

Stop Transfers[94][103][104][105]
East 34th Street Ferry Landing
FDR Drive/34th Street, Manhattan
40°44?38?N 73°58?26?W / 40.74388°N 73.97393°W / 40.74388; -73.97393 (East 34th Street Landing)
NY Waterway shuttle bus
SeaStreak
M34 SBS, M34A SBS and M15 buses
Hunters Point South
Center Boulevard & Borden Avenue, Queens
40°44?30?N 73°57?43?W / 40.74159°N 73.96195°W / 40.74159; -73.96195 (Hunters Point Landing)
and ​ trains at Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue
Long Island City LIRR station
Q103 bus
Greenpoint
India Street, Brooklyn
40°43?55?N 73°57?43?W / 40.73183°N 73.96196°W / 40.73183; -73.96196 (Greenpoint Landing)
train at Greenpoint Avenue
B24, B32, B43 and B62 buses
North Williamsburg
North Sixth Street, Brooklyn
40°43?11?N 73°57?52?W / 40.71977°N 73.9645°W / 40.71977; -73.9645 (North Williamsberg Landing)
train at Bedford Avenue
B32, B62 and Q59 buses
South Williamsburg
Schaefer Landing, Brooklyn
40°42?33?N 73°58?17?W / 40.70922°N 73.97144°W / 40.70922; -73.97144 (South Williamsburg Landing)
B32, B62 and Q59 buses
Dumbo/Fulton Ferry
Fulton Street, Brooklyn

40°42?13?N 73°59?53?W / 40.70367°N 73.99806°W / 40.70367; -73.99806 (Dumbo Landing)
New York Water Taxi
and ​ trains at High Street
train at York Street
B25 bus
Governors Island (summer weekends only)
40°41?28?N 74°00?44?W / 40.69107°N 74.012236°W / 40.69107; -74.012236 (Governors Island Landing)
Pier 11 at Wall Street
South Street, Manhattan
40°42?14?N 74°00?33?W / 40.70376°N 74.00919°W / 40.70376; -74.00919 (Pier 11 at Wall Street Landing)
SeaStreak
New York Beach Ferry
M15, QM7, QM8, SIM5, SIM5X, SIM15 and SIM35 buses

Rockaway Ferry

The Rockaway Ferry route runs in both directions with year-round service. In May 2018, a new Rockaway Express service was established, operating between 45-90 minutes daily. The Rockaway Express ended on September 17, 2018 and will resume in the spring of 2019. Service operates every 60 minutes at all times.[95]

South Brooklyn Ferry

South Brooklyn ferries run in both directions with year-round service running every 30 minutes during rush hours and every 45 minutes at all other times except nights. On summer weekends, ferries stop at Governors Island.[96]

Service to Dumbo and Bay Ridge will be discontinued in 2021, though Bay Ridge will be served by a new Coney Island route.[87][88][102]

Soundview Ferry

Soundview ferries run in both directions. Service on this route runs every 30-35 minutes during rush hours and every 50 minutes during off-peak hours.[98]

The route will be extended from Soundview to Throggs Neck in 2021.[87][88][102]

Lower East Side Ferry

Lower East Side ferries run in both directions. Service on this route runs every 25 minutes during rush hours and every 40 minutes during off-peak hours.[99]

St. George Ferry

Service on this route will begin in 2020.[100][87][88][102]

Coney Island Ferry

Service on this route will begin in 2021.[101][87][88][102]

Fares and amenities

The fare for a single, one-way trip is $2.75,[109][110] the same as on other modes of transportation in New York City such as the subway.[28][54] Bicyclists must pay an additional $1 to board their bikes on ferries.[109][28][110] Riders can transfer to other ferry routes within the system for free[30] for ninety minutes after the passenger boards the first ferry.[28] though this excludes the fare-free Staten Island Ferry, since it will not be integrated into NYC Ferry.[22] In addition, the NYC Ferry system does not provide free transfer to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's greater mass transit system,[1][32][111] nor does it accept MetroCards.[111] Ferry tickets can be purchased online, through NYC Ferry's mobile app, or physically at a ticket booth or ticket machine.[109] A 30-day pass costs $121, while a 30-day pass for bikers costs $141.[28][109]

The 85-foot (26 m) boats can carry 150 people each, including wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes.[44] As a further incentive, the boats have snacks and drink options, including coffee and wine, that are available to riders.[32][26][57] There are also battery-charging stations on board the boats, as well as free Wi-Fi.[54][57][112]

Stops

North Williamsburg ferry stop

The service would ultimately have 21 landings, of which ten would be brand-new, five would be upgraded, and six would be preexisting landings that would not be changed with the addition of NYC Ferry routes.[39]:6 The existing East River Ferry landings at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1; Schaefer Landing; North Williamsburg; Greenpoint; and Long Island City remained unchanged. There would be upgrades to the landings at Wall Street; East 34th Street; East 92nd Street; Brooklyn Army Terminal; and Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6. The remaining landings were built as part of the project.[39]:6 A stop on Governor's Island was implemented along one of the routes to South Brooklyn. At the time, Governor's Island Ferry, the only public access to the island, runs seasonally between May and September, but the proposed Governor's Island stop would feature ferry service year-round.[39]:6[113] It was decided to build the Rockaway dock at Beach 108th Street, but a second dock could not be built further east than Beach 84th Street due to height restrictions caused by the Rockaway Line subway bridge.[26] Construction on the first dock, the Rockaway landing, began in January 2017.[114][115]

The upgraded landings, which increase capacity and passenger flow, are located on 35-by-90-foot (11 by 27 m) barges that connect to land via the use of either one or two articulated ramps. The landings conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act and contain enclosed waiting rooms with ticket booths and information boards.[39]:7Mono-pile mooring facilities are installed on the side of the landings to ensure that the ferries dock safely, but some landings also include extra bulkheads or piers.[39]:7

Ferry fleet

In July 2016, Metal Shark Boats and Horizon Shipbuilding were jointly awarded construction contracts for the service's new build ferries.[116] The vessels, which were designed by Incat Crowther, are about 85 feet (26 m) long, with a 26 feet (7.9 m) beam, and have a passenger capacity of 149.[116] They are powered by Baudouin diesel engines, with a service speed of 25 knots (29 mph).[116] By September, nineteen ferries were being built for Phase 1 of service.[44][43][45] In January 2017, five more ferries were ordered from Horizon Shipbuilding, for a total of 24 vessels.[117] The first new build vessel for NYC Ferry was launched by Horizon Shipbuilding on February 13.[118] These boats arrived in New York City on April 17 and were named at a ceremony at Brooklyn Bridge Park.[119]

The boats use the same types of loading equipment on the port, starboard, and bow as do boats that already operated in the New York Harbor.[39]:7 There are two types of boats: an open-water "Rockaway vessel" type for the Rockaway route, and another "river vessel" type for the rest of the system. Both designs have a common 86 feet (26 m) length and 26.25 feet (8.00 m) beam, but the Rockaway service vessels have a slightly deeper draft and higher freeboard, as well as added fuel capacity and larger engines giving a slightly higher service speed.[118] All of the vessels are powered by engines that pass Environmental Protection Agency Tier 3 Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards guidelines.[39]:7 Ferry horns' volumes were lowered in June 2017 after complaints by residents living near ferry stops.[120]

The Brooklyn Army Terminal and Brooklyn Navy Yard were considered for the location of the vessel maintenance facility.[37]:4[39]:7 The Navy Yard option, which the city preferred because of its proximity to the "core operating area" of the routes and would allow an extra station to be added there in the future,[37]:4[39]:7 was eventually selected.[121] Renovation of the site was required to remove an existing pier and replace it with a new structure capable of docking up to 25 boats. This new facility would be responsible for performing regular cleaning and maintenance on the vessels.[121] The construction work began in spring 2017, at which time it was expected to be completed in early 2018.[121][122]

As a result of an unforeseen surge in ridership, the NYCEDC and Hornblower announced in July 2017 that three of the twenty 149-passenger vessels would be reconfigured into 250-passenger boats. These boats would have bigger engines to accommodate the additional passengers.[35][36] In September 2017, the NYCEDC ordered three new 350-passenger boats for NYC Ferry service to supplement the 20 original boats. Metal Shark would build the new boats for $7 million to $7.5 million each.[70] Three more large boats were ordered in November 2017.[71] As part of the contract between the city and Hornblower, both parties have options for the city to buy the boats in the future.[71] The first of the new 350-passenger boats was delivered in July 2018.[123][124]

Before being allowed to pilot a NYC Ferry vessel, prospective captains are tested using a ferry simulation at the State University of New York Maritime College in Throggs Neck. As of April 2017, there were plans to hire up to 50 captains by 2018.[125][126] In July 2017, Hornblower started looking to hire 80 deckhands to dock boats.[127]

Active roster

The following vessels are owned and operated by Hornblower for NYC Ferry operation, and do not include vessels leased from other companies.

Image Vessel Name (Vessel Number) Type Year Notes
Jamaica Bay.png JAMAICA BAY Rockaway Vessel 1986 (Refurbished in 2007, 2017, and 2018; Being Overhauled for NYC Ferry Service in 2019)
  • Originally built as Dolphin in 1986. Renamed MV Zelinsky in 1997[128]
  • Was owned by Blue and Gold Fleet until March 2016[128]
  • Purchased by Hornblower prior to NYC Ferry's start[128]
  • Able to accommodate up to 400 passengers
  • Currently being overhauled and will return in the Spring of 2019
  • Exclusively used on the Rockaway (Express) Route
Breezy Point.jpg BREEZY POINT 1987. Being overhauled and spec'd for NYC Ferry Standards in 2019)
  • Originally built in 1987
  • Sold to NYC Ferry/Hornblower in May 2018
  • Currently being overhauled and spec'd for NYC Ferry service
  • Able to accommodate up to 250 passengers
  • Currently being overhauled and will return in the Spring of 2019
  • Exclusively used on the Rockaway (Express) Route
StraitsExp.png STRAITS EXPRESS[129] 1995 (Refurbished in 2013; Being Overhauled for NYC Ferry Service in 2019)
  • Originally built in 1995, refurbished in 2013 under Arnold Transit in Cincinnati, OH[130]
  • Sold to NYC Ferry/Hornblower in July 2018
  • Started Service in July 2018 on the Rockaway Route
  • Able to accommodate up to 400 passengers
  • Currently being overhauled and will return in the Spring of 2019
  • Exclusively used on the Rockaway (Express) Route
BRAVEST 1996 (Refurbished in 2014-2015). Being overhauled and spec'd for NYC Ferry Standards in 2019)
  • Originally built in 1996, refurbished in 2014 under NY Waterway
  • Sold to NYC Ferry/Hornblower in December 2018
  • Currently being overhauled and spec'd for NYC Ferry service
  • Able to accommodate up to 400 passengers
  • Currently being overhauled and will return in the Spring of 2019
  • While primarily will operate on the Rockaway Line, the vessel could operate on any line
HB101.png WAVES OF WONDER (HB-101) Standard (River Boat) 2016
  • 1st Generation Vessel
  • Able to accommodate up-to 150 passengers[116]
  • Contains displays and announcements for route stops/destinations
  • Features top deck accessible from rear of vessel, and plastic seats with tables.[124]
HB102.png SUNSET CROSSING (HB-102)
H103.png HAPPY HAULER (HB-103)
H104.png GREAT EAGLE (HB-104)
H105.png OWL'S HEAD (HB-105)
HB 106.png MUNSEE (HB-106) 2017
HB 107.png HB 107
H200.png LUNCHBOX (HB-200)
H201.png URBAN JOURNEY (HB-201)
H202.png FRIENDSHIP EXPRESS (HB-202)
H203.png CONNECTOR (HB-203) Rockaway Vessel 2017
  • 2nd Generation Vessel
  • Able to accommodate up-to 150 passengers; eventually will be converted to accommodate 250 passengers[116]
  • Used exclusively on the Rockaway route, but can occasionally operate on the South Brooklyn and Astoria routes
  • Features top deck accessible from rear of vessel, and plastic seats with tables.[124]
  • Originally plans were being made to overhaul these vessels to accommodate up to 250 passengers. The plan was scrapped as more vessels will be purchased to include 250 and 350 passenger capacities.
H204.png OPPORTUNITY (HB-204)
H205.png FLYER (HB-205)
H206.png MCSHINY (HB-206) Standard (River Boat) 2017
  • 2nd Generation Vessel
  • Able to accommodate up-to 150 passengers[116]
  • Features top deck accessible from rear of vessel, and plastic seats with tables.[124]
H207.png STARLIGHT (HB-207)
H208.png SPRING MALLARD (HB-208)
H209.png ATLANTIC COMPASS (HB-209)
H108.jpg OCEAN QUEEN ROCKSTAR (HB-108) Rockaway Vessel 2018
  • 3rd Generation Vessel (K Class)
  • Ocean Queen Rockstar was delivered on July 9, 2018[123] and Seas The Day was delivered on August 15, 2018.[84]Golden Narrows was delivered on October 16, 2018, and Rainbow Cruise was delivered on November 20, 2018.
  • While these vessels will primarily be on the Rockaway Line, they can be used on all routes, if necessary
  • Can accommodate up to 350 passengers[70]
  • Features leather vinyl seating without tables[124]
  • The top deck can be reached from either end of the vessel.[124]
  • Currently 4 vessels have been delivered in 2018 with 2 additional vessels being delivered in 2019
Seastheday.jpg SEAS THE DAY (HB-109)
H110.jpg GOLDEN NARROWS (HB-110)
RAINBOW CRUISE (HB-111)

Schedules and shuttle buses

NYC Ferry operates from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. during all seven days of the week.[38][39]:9 During peak hours, ferries operate or are proposed to operate at 20-minute headways to Astoria and the Lower East Side; 30-minute headways to Bay Ridge and Soundview; and 30-60 minute headways to the Rockaways (see § Routes for more details).[39]:9

NYC Ferry operates three shuttle bus routes. One is a preexisting NY Waterway service to the East 34th Street landing.[39]:9 The other two are brand-new services to the Rockaway landing, which is at Beach 108th Street.[26] One route goes west to Jacob Riis Park,[38][39]:9 while the other was originally planned for operation between the ferry landing and Beach 67th Street, but was ultimately extended eastward.[26] The Environmental Impact Statement provided for an extension of the Beach 67th Street bus to Beach 31st Street via Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Drive,[38][39]:9 but de Blasio's office said that extending the bus further would cause a bus fleet shortage, resulting in passengers missing their boats.[26] As of June 2017, the East Shuttle bus only runs to Beach 35th Street.[131]

Critical reception

NYC Ferry stop at Pier 11

There has been both praise and criticism for the ferry service.[132][133] The editorial board in the local newspaper AM New York praised the NYC Ferry system's affordability and stated that if done correctly, the ferry "could be far more enjoyable than a subway ride".[132] It urged city officials to consider what routes to prioritize for Phase 1 service in 2017.[132] Politicians such as City Councilman Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden also lauded the fact that the ferry would bring service to places, such as southwest Brooklyn, that are underserved by transportation.[134]

In July 2017, after the ferry had opened, a commentator for the news website CityLab called the NYC Ferry system's "customer-oriented amenities" a "key to transit's future." The writer noted that some of the high-quality amenities included snacks and drinks, an advanced ticketing system, connections to shuttle buses at certain terminals, and ferry workers who provided customer service--in contrast to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which she said "blames riders for its staggering decline in reliability" over the previous year.[135] A reporter for Curbed NY wrote in September 2017 that the East River route was "worth the $2.75 fare, especially if you're a person who loves architecture", owing to its waterfront views of landmarks along the river.[136]

The ferry system has been criticized for mainly benefiting the well-off and for serving gentrifying waterfront areas such as Williamsburg.[137] Most of the ferry stops were placed in areas where the annual income is higher than the city average.[138] Additional criticism arose from the fact that the ferry system was not definitively planned to serve Staten Island. One writer for the Staten Island Advance noted that the only proposed NYC Ferry route to Staten Island, the Stapleton route, was not only unfunded but also redundant to the existing Staten Island Ferry.[139]

After NYCEDC president James Patchett touted the ferry as a substitute to the subway system, Henry Grabar of Slate Moneybox noted that Patchett's supposition was "ludicrous" since each ferry fits fewer people than a single subway car. According to Grabar, the first half-dozen ferries in service on opening day did not even carry the same number of people in a single subway train. He said that the ferry system was not a way to improve transit access to people in transit-deserts, but as a way to spur economic development along the waterfront.[140] Grabar wrote that subways had been the reason for early ferries' demise in the first place, and that the ferry was not an impactful alternative to subway congestion. However, Grabar also stated that "the commute will be a real delight" for the few who found the ferry convenient enough.[140] Benjamin Kabak, a transit blogger, wrote that "the reach of the ferries is particularly narrow", out of walking distance for 94% of city residents. He also noted that the total ridership for NYC Ferry in 2017 was less than the New York City Subway's total daily ridership, and that more than three times as many people rode Citi Bike, the city's bike-share system, than took the ferry in 2017. Kabak stated that the ferry system was only a small part of the city's transit future, and that the city could easily build a light rail line with the subsidies that it was paying to fund NYC Ferry.[141]

Tom Fox, the president of New York Water Taxi from 2001 to 2011, wrote in 2016 that the plan was marred with "an unrealistic time frame, the wrong lead agency, the selection of an inexperienced operator with no ferries, and poor planning".[133] Fox cited the selection of Hornblower Cruises, a California-based cruise operator, despite a bid from three large ferry operators in the New York metropolitan area; the decision to build new boats for the system, instead of buying existing boats from other companies; and the fact that the new boats could accommodate fewer people than the overcrowded existing East River ferries.[133] He noted that the city bought French motorboat engines that had never been used on passenger boats in the United States; and that since all American shipyards with expertise were not able to take new orders until 2018, the city decided to use a builder with less experience.[133] Additionally, a reporter for DNAinfo.com wrote that Hornblower Cruises had a history of poor relations with its workers' unions.[142] Another writer for that website stated that Hornblower had hired ticket sellers who harangued passersby in order to sell tickets for separate ferries in Lower Manhattan.[143] The aggressive ticket-selling practice was stopped following the latter story.[144]

Other ferries

Several ferries in the New York City area were affected when plans for NYC Ferry were made public. NY Waterway would give over its East River route to NYC Ferry.[22]New York Water Taxi remained separate, but was to eliminate 200 jobs;[22] it had stated that if it did not win the contract with the city to operate NYC Ferry, then it would shut down.[30] Since the company did not win the NYC Ferry contract, it had been expected to shut down in October 2016,[145] but continued operations through the end of the year before being purchased by Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises in January 2017.[146] The city-owned Staten Island Ferry remains a separate entity.[22] In addition, the ferry service would add 155 jobs to the New York Harbor area.[22]

Due to the lack of concrete plans for any NYC Ferry routes to Staten Island, there have been tentative agreements with other ferry services to provide fast-ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan, supplementing the city-owned route there. In April 2017, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo negotiated with NY Waterway to provide service between St. George Terminal and West Midtown Ferry Terminal.[147][148] In September of the same year, private developers on the South Shore of Staten Island also negotiated with SeaStreak to run a separate fast ferry route from the South Shore to Lower Manhattan.[149]

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