Citywide Ferry Service, To Launch in 2017, Will Provide Transit Options and Greater Opportunities to New Yorkers
New York City Economic Development Corporation today announced a Request for Proposals for ferry operators, transit service providers or other qualified firms to operate a Citywide Ferry System, knitting together existing East River routes with new landings and services across New York City. Announced by Mayor de Blasio during his State of the City address in February, the first three routes of expanded service will launch in 2017, with two more launching in 2018 after a $55 million capital commitment from the City for infrastructure upgrades to support the service. The phased approach is designed to support otherwise isolated neighborhoods, including restoring ferry service to the Rockaways and connecting the Bronx by water as quickly as possible, by drastically expanding a resilient and equitable transportation system. Ticket prices will be set at $2.75 per ride, the same price as a bus or subway ride, making the Citywide Ferry Service an equitable transportation option that will support housing development, job creation and neighborhood growth by connecting new innovation clusters and emerging commercial communities with each other.
“We’re serious about bringing new infrastructure and transportation to communities across the five boroughs. The new citywide ferry system will link together neighborhoods that haven’t had access to affordable and convenient public transit—connecting people and businesses to support the growth of emerging commercial corridors, while helping more New Yorkers access jobs in established business districts. This is an important new investment for our administration, and we’re proud to see it moving ahead rapidly,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.
“Expanding ferry service Citywide is a major step in our efforts to create a modern and equitable economy that is accessible for all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “This service will not only provide a resilient transportation option to people across the City, but it will also connect more New Yorkers to our waterfront, driving the creation of jobs and housing by linking our City’s emerging innovation centers. I look forward to a robust response to this RFP, and am excited by the opportunity this ferry system provides the City.”
“The Department of Transportation has worked closely with NYCEDC in promoting an expanded ferry network and this RFP, along with Mayor de Blasio’s commitment, represent a major step forward in making a citywide ferry network a reality,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We look forward to continuing to work with NYCEDC on this project.”
“New York City’s ferry system is a proven success and due to its growing popularity, I am pleased that NYCEDC is releasing a Request for Proposals to expand ferry service to areas throughout the city,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Not only will expanded ferry service help make commutes more reliable, ferries are also a key piece of resilient infrastructure because they can begin running immediately after a storm. This is a common sense way to provide more transportation opportunities throughout New York City from Rockaway to Staten Island.”
“I am extremely excited for the Citywide Ferry System project and look forward to the positive impact it will have on the Bronx’s economy and its residents’ quality of life, particularly in the Soundview area,” said U.S. Representative José E. Serrano. “This is the first time New York City will have a citywide ferry transportation system that connects different boroughs through the waterfront area. It will also be the first time the Soundview area will have a ferry system. With this call for proposals, we are a step closer to seeing this great initiative turned into reality.”
“Ferry service has already proven to be a remarkably popular form of transit, offering additional commuting options, while fostering commerce along our waterfront,” said U.S Representative Nydia Velázquez. “Expanding this service citywide will create additional transportation options especially for commuters who live in currently underserved areas.”
“I am excited to see the City move forward with its ambitious plan to greatly expand ferry service for thousands of New Yorkers,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “I commend Mayor de Blasio for providing residents, with inadequate transportation access, the option to take to our underutilized waterways.”
“Ferry service should be a greater component of our city’s transit system, not just in The Bronx but throughout the five boroughs,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This RFP is a great first step towards expanded ferry service in New York City, and I commend the de Blasio administration for its commitment to the concept and expansion of ferry service.”
“Brooklynites are excited for our ferry landings to double in two years, bringing service to transit-starved communities like Bay Ridge, the Columbia Street Waterfront, Red Hook, and Sunset Park,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “Everyone wins when we connect our sixth borough, the city’s waterways, to the other five. I thank NYCEDC for furthering the vision of a truly citywide ferry system, one where Brooklyn will benefit from enhanced economic development and access to our borough.”
“I’m excited to see the de Blasio administration moving forward to establish new transit options that will increase access between Manhattan and other parts of our city, whether it’s for work, recreation or just to explore another neighborhood,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “My office stands ready to assist and ensure that residents’ voices are heard as the new infrastructure and service options create opportunities and challenges for Manhattan’s neighborhoods.”
“Ferries in New York City make sense and I am happy the City is looking at ways to expand this vital resource for New Yorkers across the five boroughs,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “As our city grows we must be creative about public transit and I am looking forward to working with the administration and stakeholders as we continue to make New York City a more accessible and livable place.”
“Too many communities in our city lack sufficient transit resources, leading to commute times well above the national average,” said Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. “By expanding our water transportation, we can connect these communities that have been isolated for far too long. I praise Mayor De Blasio’s vision in expanding water transportation options and look forward to its fruition.”
“We are a city of waterways, and we need to make better use of them,” said Councilmember Dan Garodnick. “Expanding the use of ferries will open a real transportation option to communities that truly need it.”
“New York is a city of islands, and our transportation network should reflect that, utilizing our waterfronts and waterways to efficiently transport people,” said Councilmember Deborah Rose, Chair of the City Council Committee on Waterfronts. “As a lifelong resident of the North Shore of Staten Island — home to the iconic Staten Island Ferry — I know this well. Just as our subway and bus system knits the city together seamlessly, so too should our ferries. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his vision of a five-borough ferry system, and I know my constituents and I look forward to seeing its full implementation.”
“Thank you to the de Blasio administration and the Economic Development Corporation for recognizing the importance of increased commuter ferry service, and their willingness to explore service between Brooklyn and Governors Island,” said Councilmember Brad Lander. “I’m glad to see that this new stop has been included as an option in the request for proposals, and I look forward to seeing the responses.”
“It looks like the nickel is in the jukebox and the ball is in motion,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile. “This is the exciting first step towards Bay Ridge once again having its very own ferry. Bringing back the Bay Ridge ferry will be a game-changer for so many people and the ripple effect from this service will be felt throughout the entire city.”
“The expansion of citywide ferry service into Long Island City is a welcome proposal that will help alleviate some transportation issues Western Queens riders currently face with our ailing transit system,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Ferry service in Western Queens has been a great success. As we work to remedy train service for riders, expanding ferry service further along the East River for Queens residents will help enhance our City transportation network and provide commuters with an alternative service that is quick and reliable.”
“The citywide expansion of the ferry service will provide a cost-effective, and environmentally friendly transit alternative, which could vastly improve the daily commutes of my constituents,” said Councilmember Annabel Palma. “The release of the Request for Proposal for ferry operators, demonstrates the City’s expressed commitment to alternative, and equitable transit options. I’m excited to have the Soundview section of my district incorporated within the ferry route, and I look forward to working with the De Blasio administration and the EDC, to ensure that this community is fully involved in its implementation.”
“Our city’s waterfront is our next frontier and a commitment to a citywide ferry service affirms that,” said Councilmember Costa Constantinides. “Making an additional mode of public transportation available at the same price as a subway ride will increase transit equity for all. We are a city surrounded by water and we need to take advantage of the water’s resources, especially as we work to reach our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, as well as the provider that is chosen as we implement this innovative ferry program in Astoria and across the East River.”
“The ferry service expansion is transformative for communities like Red Hook and Sunset Park where greater connectivity to the waterfront presents opportunities for economic development, jobs, transportation equity, and recreation in a way that was previously less feasible,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “I congratulate the de Blasio administration for its work on this important project, and look forward to continued engagement throughout the planning and implementation phases of this ferry service.”
“We’re taking back the waterfront and improving commutes through expanded ferry service for New Yorkers,” said Councilmember Ben Kallos. “Among other routes that will improve East Siders’ commutes, the ‘Nerd Boat’ will connect tech hubs of Cornell NYC Tech on Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, Astoria, and Midtown Manhattan. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for investing in our waterfront and transportation through ferry service which I have been proud to advocate for. I look forward to seeing ferry service go swiftly into operation.”
“I’m thrilled that ferry service will soon serve even more communities in New York City,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin. “Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and President Kimball and all of EDC for working to provide New Yorkers additional transportation options.”
“Getting the voyage to expanded ferry service underway is a very — or ferry — big step,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “As I have said, ferry expansion — particularly at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, the Grand Street area on the Lower East Side, and we hope at Governor’s Island — will make a big splash for communities without enough transit options. I thank the Mayor and EDC for getting this process afloat.”
“Comprehensive ferry service would be a welcome addition to the neighborhoods of western Queens that are currently starved of adequate mass transit,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “As our neighborhoods continue to grow, I am glad to see this important plan move forward, and I hope to see ferries providing a viable transportation option for all of western Queens as soon as possible.”
“The far East Side of Manhattan, and many of the neighborhoods I represent such as Kips Bay, Stuy Town and the East Village have for so long been isolated from major hubs of transportation,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I commend the Mayor and the Economic Development Corporation for expanding this critical service to more neighborhoods and look forward to partnering with the community in the future to ensure its needs are met.”
“Expanding ferry service is an excellent initiative and one that I fully support,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “With this RFP, New York City is one step closer to increased connectivity up and down the East River and between all five boroughs. This expanded service will ease the burden on existing mass transit, and facilitate transportation in transit barren portions of the city’s waterfront.”
“As a long-time advocate for expanded East River ferry service I know that this plan will go a long way to buoy transportation starved portions of the city and my own Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, said Assemblymember Sheldon Silver. “The new service routes will improve commutes for residents, bring in more foot traffic to local small businesses and establish vital new transportation links that will serve our growing and thriving waterfront communities. I once again applaud Mayor de Blasio for expanding ferry service and taking advantage of our waterways, New York’s often forgotten asset.”
“I applaud the Mayor and EDC for moving forward quickly to expand ferry service,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. “The East 23rd Street site is particularly welcome news for our community, and consistent with our local plans for better access to our waterfront and the East River. Our East River Blueway Plan, designed with extensive public input, specifically calls for expanded ferry service, including a new ferry station at East 23rd Street, which we know will be a popular transit point in the growing network of ferries, and will be a natural fit with our community’s big plans for Stuyvesant Cove.”
The Request for Proposals seeks to identify an operator to provide system-wide or individual route service, running seven days a week across the City. With routes to Astoria, the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, the Lower East Side and Soundview, the Citywide Ferry Service will connect even more New Yorkers to the waterfront, building upon the success of the existing East River Ferry, and supporting growth across the City through improved infrastructure. Following the large-scale roll out of expanded service in 2017 and 2018, the City will revisit other route options, such as a route to Stapleton and Coney Island.
Since its inception as a pilot program in 2011, East River Ferry service has far 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. To date, over 4.3 million passengers have taken trips on the East River Ferry.