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Mayor Bloomberg Announces Extension Of East River Ferry Service Through at Least 2019

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, and New York City Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball today announced that the East River Ferry, originally scheduled to terminate in June of 2014, will continue to provide service along the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens waterfront until at least 2019 – a five-year extension in response to enormous demand. The pilot service, which will continue to operate seven days a week throughout the year, has carried nearly 3 million passengers since its launch in June 2011, far surpassing initial ridership estimates. In just two and a half years, the ferry has already become an integral part of the city’s transportation infrastructure, improving transit connections between emerging waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, enhancing mobility in New York Harbor for residents and visitors, increasing flexibility for emergency transportation services, and supporting the ongoing reactivation of much of the East River waterfront.

“The East River Ferry has been a huge success and demonstrates the demand for efficient, affordable transit to points along the City’s waterfront,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We now can promise commuters and visitors access to these waterfront neighborhoods via ferry for the next five years, sustaining an essential part of our Administration’s transportation vision and spurring economic growth across the City.”

“The extension of the East River Ferry service ensures not only that New Yorkers and visitors will continue to have another useful transit option, but that the reactivation of the City’s waterfront will continue to be supported  by our transportation infrastructure,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “The ferry is a crucial part of ensuring the progress of neighborhoods along the East River, generating critical economic activity for local communities and the entire City.”

"Our decision to extend the East River Ferry service reflects its enormous success in providing a convenient and sustainable transit option, boosting economic activity along the river, and this Administration’s vision to reconnect the City with its waterfront across the boroughs,” said Kyle Kimball, President of NYCEDC. “The City’s commitment to ferry service has already made a sizeable impact on the economy, catalyzing further private investment in the neighborhoods served and now poised to continue to strengthen the City’s economy for years to come.”

“For thousands of commuters along the waterfront, the East River Ferry has grown into a transportation life-line and a daily way of life,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “As more and more New Yorkers get on board with commuting on our waterways, this commitment ensures that this crucial transit option will keep the city moving for years to come.”

“The East River Ferry is a wonderful transportation option that has become a unique and desirable way to commute to work; traverse the transformed and connected waterfronts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan; or simply enjoy the City from the water,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. “It is gratifying to witness its incredible success and the extension of this service will continue to unite our neighborhoods and reconnect New Yorkers with the water.”

“I’m thrilled that the East River Ferry will continue to provide millions of commuters with a fast, green way to navigate our City’s waterfront communities,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “I thank Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for working with the Council to make the East River Ferry a tremendous success and for ensuring its continued future in our City.”

BillyBey Ferry Company, which has operated the initial three-year pilot service, was selected for the five-year extension through a public Request for Proposals. NYCEDC initiated the public process in December 2012 to ensure ferry service would continue beyond the pilot program. The five-year extension, with two additional one-year extension options, formally begins on June 13, 2014.

Ferry service was launched on June 13, 2011, as part of a three-year pilot program to provide year-round, daily ferry service between East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, and Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO in Brooklyn, and seasonal weekend service to Governors Island. Fares for passengers will remain $4 for a one-way weekday ticket and $140 for a weekday unlimited monthly pass. Weekend ferry service will be $6 per ride, and all ferries will continue to accommodate bikes on board for an additional dollar. A combined weekday and weekend unlimited pass will be $160 per month. Tickets can be purchased at machines, onboard with credit cards, from staffed ticket agents at certain landings, or via a free mobile device app.

All service frequency, with the exception of winter weekends, will continue its present operation. On weekdays, 149-passenger vessels operate from approximately 6:45 AM until 8:45 PM in both directions. During morning and evening peak hours, three boats service each landing every twenty minutes. During weekday off-peak hours, two boats run on a thirty minute schedule or hourly schedule, depending on the season. On weekends during the summer, three 399-passenger vessels operate every forty-five minutes from approximately 9:35 AM until 9:30 PM. Governors Island is included on the weekend route during the Island’s summer weekend operating hours. Winter service frequency will decrease from 60 minutes to 80 minutes during periods of lowest ridership demand.

The East River Ferry quickly exceeded initial ridership projections, hitting its total three-year ridership goal of 1.2 million in its first 18 months of service, and continuing to grow in popularity since. This growth occurred across all sectors of ferry riders, including weekday and weekend riders, and across all landing sites. The East River Ferry now carries an average of 100,000 passengers each month.

“We are very pleased to continue providing our customers with this convenient, reliable ferry service that many have come to depend on,” said Paul Goodman, CEO of BillyBey Ferry Company. “In just a short two and a half years, we believe we have demonstrated that NY Waterway’s East River Ferry can play a critical role in transporting commuters to and from their jobs, and in connecting leisure travelers and tourists to the communities and many public amenities that we serve. Ferry service has also shown to be a catalyst for economic development along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront.”

“New York City's East River Ferry has been a tremendous success, and today's announcement that the service will be continued for another five years is a great indication of its growing popularity,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “The service provides a fast, reliable and environmentally-friendly travel option for thousands of New Yorkers traveling between downtown and midtown Manhattan, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and DUMBO every day, and I will continue to push the feds for the funding needed to expand the network to more stops and routes in the years ahead.”

“I am delighted that the Bloomberg Administration and BillyBey Ferry Company have reached an agreement to continue ferry service along the East River for the next five years,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “New Yorkers have been using the East River ferries in record numbers, surpassing all expectations, and I am thrilled that this popular service will continue to serve communities along the East River.”

“I’m thrilled that the popular East River Ferry service to Brooklyn that was scheduled to end this summer has been extended until 2019 by Mayor Bloomberg and will continue providing alternative commuting options for New Yorkers between Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “With apologies to the great poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay: ‘I'm very inspired, Brooklynites are merry—commuters can go back and forth five more years on the ferry!’”

“I am extremely pleased that the East River Ferry service has been extended, and thank Mayor Bloomberg for leading this effort” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “From the daily commuters hustling to work to visitors exploring the boroughs, this service has proven to be an efficient, convenient and alternative way to get around our City. I hope this service is here to stay.” 

“The residents of North Brooklyn deserve multiple modes of transportation to transverse the city,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “The East River Ferry Service has exceeded ridership projections and provides the community another important transportation option. I am excited to learn that the East River Ferry Service will be extended into the future for our community and our city.”

"The East River Ferry has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "New Yorkers have shown that our City will embrace a viable ferry commuter service.  It's important we stay invested in it, and do what we can to help the program meet the demand that's out there."

“New York is a city of water, and it is important that we actively engage our waterways and integrate them more fully into our transportation systems,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “Extending the East River Ferry service until 2019 makes great strides toward that goal by connecting waterfronts between boroughs and enabling residents and visitors alike to use the ferry for years to come.”

“Ferry service is an essential component of the transportation mix for the residents of Long Island City,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “Long Island City residents love the convenience and frequency of the East River Ferry. With a brand new park and new affordable housing being constructed around the ferry stop, the ferry is an increasingly essential transportation option for commuters and tourists alike.”

“I commend Mayor Bloomberg for extending the life of the East River Ferry service,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “The numbers don't lie. There is a tidal wave of support for ferry service in New York City. As Chair of the Waterfronts Committee, I will continue to work with my partners in government to not only maintain this great service, but hopefully expand it across the City.”

“The East River Ferry has become a vital resource for thousands of New Yorkers, and extending service for an additional five years is a huge win for commuters,” said Council Member James Vacca. “This is definitely a step in the right direction – hopefully leading to the creation of additional ferry lines to service transportation-starved areas throughout the five boroughs.”

“This is great news,” said Regina Myer, President of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “Waterborne transportation has been integral to the success of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and with service guaranteed until at least 2019, New Yorkers can rely on the East River Ferry to get them to Brooklyn Bridge Park to enjoy fabulous art and cultural events, sports and playground facilities, picnic and bbq areas and experience the stunning waterfront views.”

“The East River ferry service to Governors Island has been important to the growing popularity of the Island, connecting the Island to Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City, and other neighborhoods,” said Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island. “We are pleased that the service will continue and look forward to working with the East River Ferry to expand service to Governors Island.”

“We celebrate the recognition and extension of the vital East River Ferry service, irrefutable proof that New Yorkers will embrace affordable, efficient, and comfortable water-borne transit,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. “We look to the day when ferry service will expand to all transit-starved neighborhoods of our City of Water.”

"I'm delighted to see this continuation of the highly successful East River Ferry service,” said Robert D. Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association. “This service has helped underpin the revitalization of the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts and demonstrated the transportation and economic development benefits that high quality ferry service can provide."

The City’s ferry service network played a pivotal role in getting the City back to work after Hurricane Sandy, restoring transportation options for neighborhoods that were hardest hit just days after the storm. For both the Rockaways and the South Shore of Staten Island, temporary ferry service was established to reconnect the neighborhoods to the City’s transportation network. The East River Ferry was operating a modified route two days after the hurricane, providing critical relief to areas of Brooklyn and Queens without subway service.

NYCEDC will release an update to its Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study in the coming weeks to reflect actual ridership demand and lessons learned during the pilot period, as well as projected new demand for ferry service. Preliminary findings indicate the desirability of a Midtown waterfront transit point, with nearly a third of East River Ferry trips running between all Brooklyn landings and Midtown (E. 34th Street), and almost 30% of all Queens trips originating or terminating at East 34th Street as well.             

The East River Ferry initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide strategy launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn, which lays out a sustainable blueprint for the City’s more than 500 miles of shoreline. WAVES has two core components: Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which established long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, which set forth priority initiatives to be implemented by the end of 2013, many of which are being realized. Together, the initiatives provide a blueprint for the City’s waterfront and waterways, and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation.



New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


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Contact Info

Marc La Vorgna/Patrick Muncie

(212) 788-2958

Kate Blumm/Ian Fried ( NYCEDC )

(212) 312-3523