We’re Getting Bigger Boats— and More Frequent Ferry Service!

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Last week, NYC Ferry celebrated its first year in service, and just a few days later, they announced some very big news. It looks like summer 2018 will be smooth sailing after the City announced that it will be adding more frequent trips, bigger boats, and even an express Rockaway service to alleviate some of the summer crowding.

On Thursday, May 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that after looking at first year numbers, the expected ridership for the citywide ferry system could reach nine million yearly passengers by 2023. With this being about double the initial projection, the city is going to pour $300 million into the system over the next five years to make vast improvements, many of which will arrive starting this summer.

“New Yorkers have spoken. We’re going to need bigger boats,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We’re gearing up to meet the extraordinary demand for more public transit on our waterways.”

Among some of the changes coming to the citywide service include expanding the ferry fleet by nearly doubling the number of boats, creating a second homeport facility to house the additional boats, infrastructure improvements and upgrades to NYC Ferry landings to accommodate large crowds, and improvements to the main ferry terminals at Pier 11/Wall Street and East 34th Street. 

Several big changes will be seen across the system, and especially Rockaway, starting in late spring/early summer. This includes the addition of three brand new 350-passenger boats to the system later this summer, plus deploying up to eight charter vessels that can hold between 250-500 passengers, in addition to the already-existing 149-passenger bo­ats. Boats will be running more frequently, arriving every 20-30 minutes on weekdays and weekends on all four-existing routes this summer. Rockaway will get an express service running directly to and from Rockaway and Pier 11/Wall Street, meaning it will skip the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop. This express service will operate during weekday rush hour and on weekends, in addition to boats offering regular service. However, service from Brooklyn Army Terminal will also be increased by 20 percent on the Rockaway route. There will also be increased staff at the ferry landings to assist passengers with lining up and boarding.

NYC Ferry is hiring to cover some of the new positions that will be needed to meet these demands. They’re looking for captains, deckhands, customer service agents, ticketing, operations and more. Jobseekers can apply directly at ferry.nyc.

“NYC Ferry’s overwhelming success in its first year of service indicates the need to make smart investments for the future now. This capital investment will support system improvements over the next five years, ultimately enhancing customer experience and strengthening the City’s waterfront infrastructure,”  NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett said.

With the success of the ferry so far and the announcement of these big improvements to come, Mayor de Blasio believes locals can feel a bit more secure about the permanence of the ferry and he sees even more people riding in the future.

“Folks in the Rockaways had temporary service after Sandy and one of the things that people constantly said to me was unless we believe in this, we’re not going to use it. And folks in the Rockaways have had very good reason to be skeptical about the role of government over many decades. What I’ve heard from a lot of people in the Rockaways is they now know this is really permanent, and they know it is the same cost as the subway fare and that has now allowed them to plan their life and use it much more than they ever could in the past. This is just beginning to be felt and I think more and more people are going to turn on to it.”

The NYC Ferry service will continue to grow. 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, joining the four other already-established routes.

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