NYC Ferry marks 1 millionth passenger; to open Astoria route

NYC Ferry's Happy Hauler pulling in to the pier at Wall Street in Lower Manhattan NYC Ferry's Happy Hauler pulling in to the pier at Wall Street in Lower Manhattan J.R. Snyder

AUGUST 4, 2017—Last week, NYC Ferry carried its 1 millionth rider, capping a speedy three-month start for the new ferry service for New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the milestone in Long Island City, Queens, by announcing the opening of what would be the fourth NYC Ferry route. The new Astoria route will open Aug. 29 and connect Astoria, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, 34th Street and Wall Street.

Right now, there are three routes in operation—Rockaway, East River and South Brooklyn—and three more to come. Besides the Astoria route, the Lower East Side and Soundview (in The Bronx) routes will launch in 2018.

There are currently 12 NYC Ferry boats in the harbor with more coming soon, said a spokesman for NYC Ferry. Charters range from two to four boats depending on the day, according to the spokesman.

In the first three months of operation, city dwellers have embraced NYC Ferry service—which, at $2.75, costs the same as being the meat in an overstuffed MTA subway sandwich. The Mayor called the service awildly popular system— one that connects transit-starved neighborhoods and commuters to jobs and the wider city.”

While commuters continue to boil about the city’s wretched subway service, the ferry has been a bright spot, demonstrating how quickly a new public transportation service can be implemented.

The implementation hasn’t been without hiccups. Critics have been quick to point out that the 149-passenger boats being deployed are too small. It has been particularly true on the Rockaway route, where summer ridership has outstripped capacity and service frequency.

NYC Ferry is responding to increased demand by beefing up capacity for three as yet-to-be-built boats. The larger vessels will have more powerful engines and have capacities up to 249 passengers.

Last summer, NYC Ferry ordered 14 all-aluminum catamaran ferries based on an Incat Crowther design from two Gulf Coast shipyards: Metal Shark, Franklin, LA, and Horizon Shipbuilding, Bayou La Batre, AL for delivery this year. The original plan also called for delivery of another five boats next year. That has grown to at least one more. Based on the popularity of the service, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the order grow again.

New York City second graders have supplied the names of the first 12 boats in the fleet. The names selected include  Munsee, The Connector, Owl's Head, Great Eagle, Happy Hauler, McShiny, Opportunity, Flyer, Lunchbox, Waves of Wonder, The Friendship Express, and Sunset Crossing.

Early next year, the boats will call the Brooklyn Navy Yard home, where a dedicated maintenance and storage facility is currently under construction. The new facility will have berthing space for 25 boats, supplies and parts, and utilities, including a 40,000-gallon diesel fueling system.

Additionally, a new ferry landing is being developed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will be part of the East River Route, which will open in the fall of 2018.


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