New York City's Ferry Service Set to Launch in 2017

New York City's first citywide ferry service in more than a century is set to launch next summer, and by 2018 will be operating from 21 landings across the city for the price of single subway ride, officials announced Wednesday. 

When fully operational by 2018, Citywide Ferry Service will carry an estimated 4.6 million trips per year across six routes, providing new transportation to fast-growing communities, including some in so-called "transit deserts," officials say. 

The Citywide Ferry Service will also fully integrate the East River Ferry, resulting in lower fares for its 4,000 daily riders -- from $4 to $2.75 per ride -- but there will be no free MTA transfers to trains or buses. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Citywide Ferry Service will be operated by Hornblower, Inc., which has already been operating in the New York Harbor for a decade. 

"It’s going to be a commute like no other: fresh air, harbor views and a fast ride on the open water," de Blasio said in a press release. "We are selecting an operator with an incredible track record providing service in our harbor. We look forward to launching with Hornblower next year."

Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower, said the ferry service will "revolutionize the way New Yorkers work, live and play, and we are confident this new system will become a local favorite for decades to come.”

The service will add 155 new jobs in the New York Harbor. But New York Water Taxi, which operates the familiar yellow boats, says it will have to shut down and lay off 200 people. 

"They are creating a subsidized monopoly that will stifle competition and force us out of business," said Peter Ebright, vice president at New York Water Taxi. 

The Staten Island Ferry will continue to operate separately and remain free. 

More information on the ferry service as released by the mayor's office:

• Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes scheduled to launch in 2017.
• Rockaway route will connect to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street.
• Astoria route will connect to Astoria, Roosevelt Island (Cornell Tech), Long Island City, East 34th Street and Wall Street.
• South Brooklyn route will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Pier 6, and Wall Street, with an optional link to Governors Island.
• Soundview and Lower East Side routes to launch in 2018.
• Routes from Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in planning stages for future expansion.
• Combined routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway.
• Over half a million New Yorkers live within a half-mile of one of the 21 Citywide Ferry landings, including 15,000 families living in NYCHA developments.


• Rockaway to Wall Street (1 stop): Approximately 1 hour
• Astoria to E 34th Street (2 stops): Approximately 22 minutes
• Astoria to Wall Street (3 stops): Approximately 38 minutes
• Soundview to Wall Street (2 stops): Approximately 43 minutes
• Bay Ridge to Wall Street (4 stops): Approximately 48 minutes

• Cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride
• 4,000 daily East River Ferry customers will see fares reduced from $4 to the cost of a single subway ride
• Fare will allow for free transfers to any other ferry route within the system, including the East River Ferry.
• Both paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit, or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities.
• Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee.

• Each boat will be able to carry at least 149 passengers.
• All boats will be equipped with WiFi.
• Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, and will comply with the requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Local Law 68 of 2005.
• New boats will be equipped with the most modern engine design available to reduce emissions and noise, as well as an efficient hull design that will limit wakes and maximize fuel economy.
• City contract with Hornblower allows the company to charter vessels if necessary to meet the implementation timeline.

• City is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades, including building 10 new ferry landings and rehabilitating six others. Barge construction is currently underway at a facility on Staten Island.
• City is providing $30 million in operating support per year, over a period of six years. Based on a projection of 4.6 million annual trips, the per-trip subsidy for Citywide Ferry Service will be $6.60, lower than the nearly $8 per trip subsidy on the Long Island Railroad or the nearly $15 per trip subsidy for express busses.City is providing $10 million for additional startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines.
• Potential sponsorships would offset operating costs.
• City negotiated an option to acquire at least 18 state-of-the-art, highly efficient passenger ferry vessels, allowing for greater operational flexibility and providing significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the service (roughly up to $5 million per year).
• City will receive a portion of fare-box revenue if ridership exceeds 5.6 million passengers.

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