A Transportation Ferry Tale

Written By David Dam | September 30, 2016 | Published in NYC Lifestyle
2016%2f09%2f28%2f19%2f06%2f00%2fdbb47178 2a23 4313 ab5d 00149f5590cf%2feast river ferry%2c new york%2c new york

Centuries ago, the only way to access Manhattan was by steamboat, as there were no other methods at the time to cross the East, Hudson, and Harlem Rivers. However, in the period between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a construction boom in tunnels, subways, and bridges quickly substituted the ferry as the main mode of transportation to Manhattan.

Ferry usage has fallen since numerous subway lines and the City’s iconic bridges have provided cross-borough access. In 2015, subway ridership totaled 1.7 billion passengers, with an average weekday ridership of 5.6 million passengers, by far the most popular mode of transportation for commuters, tourists, and local residents.

However, with the ever-crowded subways and the anticipation of the L-train shutdown — which would affect hundreds of thousands of people in Brooklyn — ferry service is making a resurgence as an efficient method of travel. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $325 million to expand ferry service throughout the five boroughs, the largest mass transit project for boats the world has ever seen. The expansion is estimated to serve 4.5 million passengers a year.

Construction started on the ferries last week, with Citywide Ferry, operated by San Francisco-based Hornblower, providing services as early as summer 2017. By 2018, 19 new ferries will provide travel between the five boroughs. The new fuel-efficient ferries are being touted as state-of-the-art. They are expected to have a maximum capacity of 150 passengers, and the size of the boats allow ample space for stroller, bike, and wheelchair storage. Additionally, Wi-Fi service will be available on the ferry and heated decks keep passengers warm during the winter.

In addition to the new ferries, 10 new ferry landings will be added along numerous waterfront communities. The citywide ferry service is expected to have stops along Queens and Brooklyn, and new service to the Bronx, Roosevelt Island, and the Rockaways, and would consolidate the already-existing East River Ferry. Examples of routes include a one hour, one stop trip from Rockaway to Wall Street, and a 38 minute, three stop trip from Astoria to Wall Street.

The East River. The existing ferry system will be merged with the Citywide Ferry system.

The City is planning to set the cost per ride equal to that of a single subway ride, and current East River Ferry customers will see their fares reduced too. While this project is meant to widely increase mass transit options for more people, there have been some criticisms about who the project best serves.

Mayor de Blasio touts the project would provide services to low-income communities, similar to the subway, where lower-income people who live much farther away from Manhattan are able to pay the same price for the longer (and more expensive) ride to the city. But subway stations are scattered throughout the five boroughs in a range of different neighborhoods. Ferry terminals have to be located along waterfronts, which usually means areas with much more expensive real estate: most ferry users live within a half-mile of a terminal.

Nevertheless, utilizing the waterways is a great idea and important expansion of public transit for New York City as the population continues to reach all-time highs. While it would not have as much ridership or as easily accessible to all groups as the subway, this project is going down the right road. With the outer boroughs expanding and current mass transit options crowded, additional public transit options such as ferries couldn’t hurt.

Blog Archive


This information is not verified for authenticity or accuracy and is not guaranteed and may not reflect all real estate activity in the market. © 2021 REBNY Listing Service, Inc. All rights reserved. RLS IDX Data display by Elegran LLC. IDX information is provided exclusively for consumers’ personal, non- commercial use and that it may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Elegran LLC may or may not be the exclusive listing agent of the properties being displayed on Elegran.com. All data displayed on Elegran.com is presented for informational purposes only and should be independently confirmed by all customers. All Information is compiled from both public and private sources including, but not limited to the RLS, MLS and ACRIS; each of which is assumed to be reliable. All information displayed is subject to errors and omissions regarding apartment specifications and final sale prices, and further, any unit listed may have had its listing withdrawn without notice subsequent to such information being compiled. No representation is made as to the accuracy of any description (ie: listing, close sale data, and/or building description) of any building or individual unit. All measurements and square footage are approximate and all information herein should be confirmed by customer and/or their attorney. Elegran LLC, its members, affiliates, and contributors adhere to New Your City, New York State, and United States Fair Housing Laws.