Ferry system costs NYC roughly $6.60 per passenger

October 8, 2018

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New York City’s ferry service has been so popular among both New Yorkers and tourists alike that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in May he would invest $300 million for three new 350-passenger boats and new docks. According to the city, ridership is 34 percent higher than expected, with a projected 9 million passengers served annually by 2023. But, as new routes launch and more boats are added, the operating costs have increased, jumping by 50 percent last fiscal year, Crain’s reported on Friday.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) spent $44 million operating the ferries this fiscal year, compared to $30 million in 2017. The higher expense comes from more lines (new routes were added to South Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, and Soundview) as well as the private boats the city had to charter as it waited for all 23 ferries to be ready.

Passengers pay the same fare as the subway, $2.75 per ride. But because the per-rider cost has been $8.96, each passenger costs city taxpayers roughly $6.60. The EDC told Crain’s that the per-rider subsidy did increase slightly, but did not give exact an exact amount.

A spokesperson from the agency told Crain’s: “The incremental difference in operating costs is mainly attributed to increased service that was needed to meet ridership demand that surpassed our initial projections.”

However, the ferry has proved to be a much more reliable transit option for commuters than the chronically delayed subway system. In a quarterly report released last month, the EDC found the ferry system’s on-time performance to be nearly 92 percent.

During the weekday, the subway’s on-time rate hovers around 65 percent. Of course, much more people ride the subway than the ferries. Streetsblog found that even if NYC Ferry met its goal of serving 24,500 riders per day by 2023, ridership would be less than that of fourteen individual bus routes.

But the city is scoping out new sites for future landings or routes to complement the current system. And through Oct. 15, the public can also suggest sites through an online form found here.

[Via Crain’s]


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