Officials announce free day of ferry service for all on December 15th

Ferry ridership to reach half a million passengers this month, already more than the initial one year projections

Pier 11 – Today, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky, Council Members Margaret Chin, Stephen Levin, Daniel R. Garodnick, Michael Nelson, Jimmy Van Bramer and Billybey Ferry Company CEO Paul Goodman greeted morning ferry commuters to celebrate six months of service by announcing a flash free day for all riders and free morning coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company aboard the East River Ferry. Nearly 500,000 paying passengers have taken advantage of this new three-year waterborne transportation pilot program in just six months of service, far exceeding the projected annual 409,000 paid ridership. They were also joined by Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney and Nydia M. Velázquez, Borough Presidents Marty Markowitz and Helen Marshall, and Council Member James Vacca.

“The fact that East River Ferry ridership is shattering projections in only six months is proof that commuters and tourists alike are discovering both the beauty and convenience of traveling borough to borough on the East River by ferry,” said NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The East River Ferry has proven to not only provide a more scenic means of transportation, but also a more environmentally friendly, and in some cases, less time consuming commute for riders. I am excited to continue to help our city’s waterfront communities grow and I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this special free day of ferry service.”

“The East River Ferry is not only transforming how hundreds of thousands of commuters commute in, visitors sightsee in, and residents explore our City – it is also transforming our waterfront and generating economic activity — just as Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council envisioned. So far the ferry service, the byproduct of a true public-private effort involving our partners at New York Waterways, has been a hit with a great future in front of it. We hope New Yorkers will take advantage of the free service today and experience for themselves this incredible service,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky.

The East River Ferry Service provides increased access to the waterfront and additional transportation options in underserved areas along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront giving them a connection to each other and two key business districts in Manhattan. These recently rezoned neighborhoods feature new large scale, high density residential developments at the water’s edge with over 6,000 units completed in the past 3 years, 2,000 more units under construction, another 21,000 units planned, and thousands more residents within walking distance. The fast, frequent, and reliable mass transportation option makes these emerging waterfront locations more desirable triggering more economic development for New York City.

Ferry service was launched on June 13th, 2011, as part of a 3-year pilot program to provide year-round ferry service between East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, and DUMBO in Brooklyn, and seasonally to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Governor’s Island. Having averaged about 20,000 weekly riders in revenue service and now in its winter schedule, passengers are still taking to the water as both a more convenient and enjoyable alternative for commuters and tourists in the growing neighborhoods along the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts. The service costs riders $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited all-day pass, and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass. Ferries accommodate bikes on board for an additional dollar. Ticketing machines are available at all commuter locations along with staffed ticket agents at some stops.

“The East River Ferry has exceeded expectations and has proven to be an indispensable resource for lower Manhattan residents and New Yorkers alike,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “Making full use of our waterways is very important and I hope that the popularity of the ferry means we can expand this service in the future.”

“I am very happy to celebrate the anniversary of the East River Ferry today,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “With stops throughout my district in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and DUMBO, the ferry provides another vital link for my constituents to get to and from Manhattan every day. I also want to thank Speaker Quinn, EDC President Pinsky, Dep. Mayor Steel and Mayor Bloomberg for continuing to promote Brooklyn and for recognizing this wonderful anniversary.”

“The ferry has served as a vehicle to link together the communities along the city’s waterfront,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “The success of the ferry service to date demonstrates that when provided a variety of transportation options, New Yorkers avail themselves of such opportunities in great numbers. The ridership has eclipsed original expectations for the year, and we are only 6 months in. I will continue to work with my colleagues to broaden access and expand transportation options.”

“As the East River ferry service reaches its sixth month of operation we are shown proof that city government can make a difference,” said Councilman Nelson, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Waterfronts. “With mass transit cuts across the board every year it is imperative that we find alternate modes of public transportation for the people of New York City. The East River ferry service is that solution helping thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers get to work and around the city each day. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council and the Mayor’s Office in continuing to make the East River ferry service even better.”

“The success of the East River Ferry has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations,” said Council Member Garodnick. “It shows that there are New Yorkers eager to embrace this service today, and that a viable commuter ferry has a place in our city’s future.”

“We are thrilled with the response from commuters, leisure-travelers and tourists since the launch of the East River Ferry,” said Paul Goodman, CEO of Billybey Ferry Company, which runs the East River Ferries for NY Waterway. “We want to thank New York City officials and the EDC for their ongoing support as we continue to provide an enjoyable and reliable transportation alternative to the waterfront communities in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.”

“The strong ridership numbers on the East River Ferry attest to the fact that ferries are a natural fit for our city of islands. The East River Ferry, in particular, is an important resource for commuters in some of New York’s fastest-growing communities,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “Ferry service is environmentally-friendly, relieves congestion on our subways and roads, and provides increased access to our waterfront. I congratulate Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg for their leadership in delivering these much-needed improvements to our transportation network.”

“By enhancing water transportation throughout the City, we can expand commuters’ options, while encouraging residents and tourists alike to spend time in different boroughs, further boosting local commerce,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez.

“In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman wrote: ‘On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross,’ but in the case of expanded NY Waterway service to boroughs other than Manhattan, it’s been thousands and thousands of riders daily since June—exceeding everyone’s wildest expectations and creating a model that could be followed for future ferry service along the Brooklyn waterfront from Sunset Park and Bay Ridge to Mill Basin,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “Bravo to Mayor Bloomberg and his staff, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Speaker Christine Quinn and the Council, the EDC and its president Seth Pinsky, BillyBay Ferry Company and everyone who made something old new again—believing in the viability of ferry service as a way for New Yorkers to get to and from work and to attract economic development and tourism to our bustling waterfront.”

“Our rivers and ferries provide an attractive alternative for commuting that help communities like Long Island City and others to grow,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “Easy access, affordability and reliability are keys to successful ferries and subsidies help to keep fares down. I applaud the operation of this ferry since service began in June and look forward to its continued success.”

“I am very encouraged that ridership on the East River Ferry has been so high. I think people often forget that New York is a city of islands,” said James Vacca, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Transportation. “Our waterways represent both a tremendous resource and a major opportunity in terms of transportation and economic development, and I look forward to working with Speaker Quinn and EDC President Pinsky on the next phase of the program.”

This initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy, a sustainable blueprint for New York City’s waterfront and waterways launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn in May 2011. To reconnect New Yorkers and visitors to the water and reclaim New York City’s standing as a premier waterfront city, the plan will transform the City’s waterfront with new parks, new industrial activities and new housing, and it will capitalize on the City’s waterways to promote water-borne transportation, recreation, maritime activity and natural habitats. The plan has two components: a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects, including the development of more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks, creation of 14 new waterfront esplanades and introduction of new commuter ferry service; and the Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a framework for the City’s 520 miles of shoreline for the next decade and beyond. The 130 action agenda projects are expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and at least 3,400 permanent maritime and industrial jobs. It is the first citywide plan for the waterfront in nearly two decades and the first ever comprehensive plan for the waterways themselves.