QUEENS — The new NYC Ferry system is only halfway done, and already beat “wildest expectations” by hitting 1 million riders since its May launch.
Needless to say, officials were in celebration mode Wednesday, announcing a contest offering free rides for 11 lucky winners, the next route’s launch date and half-price booze.
“We knew NYC Ferry would be popular, but a million riders in less than three months is beyond our wildest expectations,” said James Patchett, NYC economic development corporation president and CEO.
Based on preliminary ridership numbers, NYC Ferry wasn’t expected to hit the 1 million mark until Aug. 23, according to a news release from the city.
In anticipation of the next route to launch, Mayor Bill de Blasio, local officials and Long Island City residents celebrated the milestone in the Queens neighborhood Wednesday.
“It’s been less than three months and NYC Ferry has already served one million riders,” de Blasio said. “As we prepare to launch the Astoria route, we continue to add capacity to this brand new and wildly popular system — one that connects transit-starved neighborhoods and commuters to jobs and the wider city.”
The fourth NYC Ferry route, connecting Astoria, Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, 34th Street and Wall Street, will launch the week before Labor Day weekend on Tuesday Aug. 29, officials announced.
Locally, officials hope the Astoria route will help alleviate the inundated 7 train and help commuters traveling to and from Roosevelt Island.
“Roosevelt Island has waited generations for ferry service which will finally arrive this summer,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area.
Riders also have the chance to win a free annual or 30-day pass.
One annual pass, worth $1,452, and ten 30-day passes will be awarded. Anyone looking for a chance to win must activate a ticket on the NYC Ferry app between Friday, July 21 and Friday, July 28. Click here for more information.
The cost of riding the NYC Ferry mirrors the cost of a MetroCard, with a $2.75 per-ride fee, and $121 for monthly passes.
Those looking to celebrate in the more immediate future can enjoy half-price draft beverages; including cold-brew coffee, beer and wine; throughout the day on all vessels equipped with Newstand concessions.
NYC Ferry blew right past 1 million riders with more than 625,000 riders on the East River Route, 221,000 on the Rockaway Route and 154,000 on the South Brooklyn Route, the city news release states. Cumulatively, weekday ridership ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 riders.
The “huge demand” has prompted the city to announce increased capacity will be added to three of its 20 boats, with the larger vessels accommodating up to 249 passengers, compared to the standard 149.
NYC Ferry so far consists of the Rockaway, East River and South Brooklyn routes. The Lower East Side and Soundview routes will launch next year, after Astoria’s.
The ferry service comes as commuters grow more skeptical and pessimistic about public transit in the city, as extensive track repairs are underway at Penn Station and subway slowdowns have become a near daily occurrence.
In addition to helping locals commute quicker and more efficiently, councilman Costa Constantinides said expanding public transit options moves the city closer to its goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, as well as “ensure that our city remains a global leader on the environment.”