Overcrowded NYC Ferry needs more boats to keep up with demand

June 15, 2017

As 6sqft covered last month, the city’s ferry service, which launched May 1, has been so popular that frustrated passengers often face delays, long lines and overcrowding when trying to board. While officials had anticipated demand on the weekends for the NYC Ferry to be high, they did not expect how much this demand would “outstrip supply,” as the New York Times reported. To meet demand, the city will charter two extra boats that will carry 400 people to serve the summer weekend crowds.

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Hornblower, the city contractor operating the ferry service, also had to change its order for new boats. While originally the city requested 20 boats from two shipyards that hold 149 passengers each, they now need three of those boats to be larger, with bigger engines and a capacity to hold 250 passengers. These will not be operating until next year. City Hall spokesperson, Wiley Norvell, said needing bigger boats did not reflect poor planning on the city’s part. “We’re still accumulating the data at this stage,” Norvell said. “Some of this is going to be trial and error. We’re not the subway. We don’t have 70 years of detailed ridership telling us how many trains to run after a Yankee game.”

Rented from New York Waterway, the two chartered boats began its East River route last weekend, from Wall Street to 34th Street with stops in Brooklyn and Queens. The city will use these boats through the end of September. The bigger boats will not be available for a few weeks since they are booked for other purposes for two weekends in July and Labor Day weekend.

Tom Fox, who ran the New York Water Taxi service, has been a vocal critic of the NYC Ferry service, even writing an op-ed in Crain’s last year knocking the boats as being too small. Fox told the Times: “It’s very sad that the planning wasn’t done properly in the first place by professionals…This is the peak of the season. You don’t plan for these things in the middle of peak season.”

[Via NY Times]


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