City is heavily-subsidizing ferry rides for white, wealthy New Yorkers

Posted On Tue, October 1, 2019 By

Posted On Tue, October 1, 2019 By In Policy, Transportation

Image © 6sqft

A majority of New York City Ferry riders are white and wealthy, the Daily News reported on Monday. According to a survey conducted by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which operates the ferry system alongside Hornblower, more than 60 percent of NYC Ferry riders are white with an average annual income between $75,000 and $99,000. In March, a study from the Citizens Budget Commission found the NYC Ferry costs the city $10.73 per rider, about 10 times that of subway subsidies.

The EDC found that the Soundview route, which connects commuters in the Bronx to the Upper East Side, Midtown, and Wall Street, remains the system’s most diverse since launching last summer. According to the city, two-thirds of riders on this line are people of color.

The ridership stats provided by the EDC to the Daily News have not been released publicly; neither have the results of three past surveys conducted by the agency. The latest data comes from a survey of more than 5,400 riders over a two-week period in May and June.

“NYC Ferry is bringing together disconnected neighborhoods and helping to get New Yorkers moving,” Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for EDC, told the Daily News. “With booming ridership, it’s clear the service continues to be an undeniable success.

This summer, the service made a record 2.5 million trips. In comparison, the subway makes over 5 million rides on average on a typical weekday.

In addition to making more trips, the subway also serves a more diverse group of people. A study by City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that two-thirds of subway riders are people of color and earn a median annual income of $40,000. Plus, the subsidy for the subway is about $1.05 per rider, according to the CBC report from earlier this year.

But the EDC says the per-rider subsidy is declining. The agency told the Daily News that the city spent $9.34 per trip in the 12 months ending in June, compared to $10.73 per ride the year before. Even as the per-rider subsidy falls, the ferry system remains expensive because operating costs are high and revenue is low because ferry fare is just $2.75 per ride.

“Why we have continuously lobbied for a second stop in the Rockaways,” Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents Southeast Queens, tweeted on Tuesday, referring to the new EDC data. “While we applaud the success of the Rockaway ferry, true transit equity means everyone has access.”

[Via NY Daily News]

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