NYCEDC says more about search for new NYC Ferry operator

Written by Nick Blenkey
NYC Ferrycommuter ferry

NYC Ferry system's six routes touch every New York City borough, with 25 landings, and 38 vessels.

As we reported earlier, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has now issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking an operator for the NYC Ferry public transit system. The RFP comes after New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released an audit on the system and made a number of recommendations aimed at improving oversight over the ferry system and protecting the fiscal integrity of New York City. One of these was that NYCEDC issue a new RFP for the system operator.

In fact, says NYCEDC, it is initiating a competitive, open bidding process for a ferry operator, not in response to the comptroller’s recommendation, but because its current operating agreement with HNY Ferry, LLC is coming to a close on September 30, 2023.

NYC Ferry is currently serving about 6 million riders (about twice the population of Arkansas) a year with that number expected to grow. The system’s six routes touch every New York City borough, with 25 landings, and 38 vessels.

The system now spans 70 nautical miles and is the largest passenger-only fleet in the U.S., based on fleet and hours of service.

“We are excited about the next phase of NYC Ferry,” said a NYCEDC spokesman.”We already provide a first-class ridership experience for New Yorkers and visitors alike, and now we are looking to procure a new contract, which aims to make NYC Ferry more efficient and financially sustainable, ensuring the system remains a permanent fixture of New York City’s transit landscape.”

Though once an operator is selected in January of 2023, there will be negotiations on the terms of the RFP, among the things NYCEDC is looking to achieve through the new contract are:

  • First rate ridership experience (NYCEDC is looking for the operator to implement contactless ticketing, additional accommodations for people with disabilities and to continue the Ferry Discount Program whichoffers $1.35 one-way tickets to eligible riders.)
  • NYCEDC intends to introduce contactless ticketing by 2025 to streamline the rider experience and modernize the boarding process.
  • The RFP requests proposals that include detailed workforce development plans that encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion among the operator’s workforce, and leadership that promotes education, internal advancement, and employee retention.
  • The RFP requires respondents to submit their plan for how they will work with HireNYC, a free program run by NYCEDC that connects New Yorker’s to the City’s workforce development services.
  • NYCEDC wants to see operators who are committed to partnering with New York’s greatest maritime institutions, like the NYC Harbor School, SUNY Maritime, and CUNY Kingsborough, among others, to create a strong pipeline of careers for New Yorkers at all skill levels.
  • Respondents will be required to submit an M/WBE plan to demonstrate how they will work with minority/women-owned business enterprises.

NYEDC intends to retain all fare revenue. The agency seeks to tie incentive payments to the operator to important key performance indicators, motivating the operator to improve service in a way that will promote ridership growth.

The RFP requires a Revenue Generation Plan with the goal of offsetting costs and invites creative thinking from private sector respondents. NYCEDC will favor proposals with a revenue plan that apportions most of the net revenue generated to the city.

NYCEDC expects strong reporting practices to ensure efficiency, transparency, and allow for the best decision-making.

NYCEDC is looking for an operator who can produce a strong community relations team to build relationships in each community NYC Ferry serves to promote the system and the benefits of NYC Ferry.

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