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Press Release

East River Ferry Ridership Hits All Time High in 2016

Dec 29 2016

Nearly 1.6 million trips, up eight percent from 2015

Demand for ferry service continues to grow as NYC prepares for Citywide Ferry launch in Summer 2017

New Yorkers should go to for a chance to win an annual Citywide Ferry passes

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today released new data for the East River Ferry showing that ridership reached an all-time high in 2016. With expanded Citywide Ferry Service scheduled to launch in Summer 2017, New Yorkers are taking to the water in record numbers – with a total of 1,584,149 trips on the East River Ferry this year. That’s an 8% increase from the 1,467,860 trips taken on the East River Ferry in 2015.

The North 6th Street/North Williamsburg ferry terminal was the highest activity stop during weekdays in 2016, while the Brooklyn Bridge/DUMBO terminal experienced the most weekend activity. 10,510 passengers took the ferry on May 20, 2016 – the highest ridership day of the year.

With nineteen vessels operating at 21 landings across New York City, Citywide Ferry will carry an estimated 4.6 million trips per year across six routes - providing a new and easily accessible transit option traditionally underserved communities and where jobs and housing are growing rapidly.

“This growing demand is one of the reasons we’re expanding ferry service citywide in 2017,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “More and more New Yorkers are looking to our waterways to get to work or school, and that’s led to increased East River Ferry ridership for the fourth year in a row. We’re very excited to incorporate the East River route into Citywide Ferry Service, and connect New Yorkers from Soundview to the Rockaways for the price of a subway ride.”

Citywide Ferry Service operator Hornblower is preparing to transition the East River Ferry service into the larger Citywide Ferry system by Summer 2017. Once Citywide Ferry Service launches, the price of an East River Ferry ride will be reduced from $4 weekday fares and $6 weekend fares to $2.75 – the same cost of a subway ride – making ferry service even more affordable for working New Yorkers.

“There’s a tremendous wave of excitement building as we gear up to offer more connections and more convenience than ever before once Citywide Ferry by Hornblower launches this summer,” said Cameron Clark, Senior Vice President of Development and Project Manager for Citywide Ferry by Hornblower. “Once the transition into Citywide Ferry Service is complete, East River Ferry’s record ridership will have a record number of routes to connect to in order to “Work, Live and Play” across Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx."

New Yorkers can enter to win free Citywide Ferry rides for a year by going to www.CitywideFerry.NYC and filling out a 2-minute survey.




More Details on Citywide Ferry Service

New Jobs:

  • At least 155 new jobs in New York Harbor.
  • Crew will earn a living wage, along with a comprehensive benefits package.
  • Hornblower will participate in the City’s HireNYC program, which matches qualified applicants from neighborhood-based WorkForce1 training centers.


  • Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes are scheduled to launch in 2017.
  • Rockaway route will connect to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street.
  • Astoria route will connect to Astoria, Roosevelt Island (Cornell Tech), Long Island City, East 34th Street and Wall Street.
  • South Brooklyn route will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Pier 6, and Wall Street, with an optional link to Governors Island (launch date TBD).
  • Soundview and Lower East Side routes to launch in 2018.
  • Routes from Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in the planning stages for future expansion.
  • Combined routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway.
  • Over half a million New Yorkers live within a half-mile of one of the 21 Citywide Ferry landings, including over 15,000 families living in NYCHA developments.

Commuting Times:

  • Rockaway to Wall Street (1 stop): Approximately 1 hour
  • Astoria to E 34th Street (2 stops): Approximately 22 minutes
  • Astoria to Wall Street (3 stops): Approximately 38 minutes
  • Soundview to Wall Street (2 stops): Approximately 43 minutes
  • Bay Ridge to Wall Street (4 stops): Approximately 48 minutes


  • Cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride.
  • Over 4,000 daily East River Ferry customers will see fares reduced from $4 to the cost of a single subway ride.
  • Fare will allow for free transfers to any other ferry route within the system, including the East River Ferry.
  • Both paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit, or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities.
  • Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee.

The Boats:

  • Each boat will be able to carry 150 passengers.
  • All boats will be equipped with WiFi.
  • Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, and will comply with the requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Local Law 68 of 2005.
  • New boats will be equipped with the most modern engine design available to reduce emissions and noise, as well as an efficient hull design that will limit wakes and maximize fuel economy.
  • The city contract with Hornblower allows the company to charter vessels if necessary to meet the implementation timeline.

City Support:

  • The city is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades, including building 10 new ferry landings. Barge construction is currently underway at a facility on Staten Island.
  • The city is providing $30 million in operating support per year, over a period of six years. Based on a projection of 4.6 million annual trips, the per-trip subsidy for Citywide Ferry Service will be $6.60, lower than the nearly $8 per trip subsidy on the Long Island Railroad or the nearly $15 per trip subsidy for express buses. The city is providing $10 million for additional startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines.
  • Potential sponsorships would offset operating costs.
  • City negotiated an option to acquire at least 18 state-of-the-art, highly efficient passenger ferry vessels, allowing for greater operational flexibility and providing significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the service (roughly up to $5 million per year).
  • City will receive a portion of fare-box revenue if ridership exceeds 5.6 million passengers.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.