NYC Ferry service will expand, but taxpayers will foot most of the bill: mayor

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn -- Mayor Bill De Blasio formally announced on Monday something that he’s informally announced a few times before: NYC Ferry service is expanding to all five boroughs.

The ride, which is typically faster than the subway or bus, will cost the same as those land-based modes of public transportation. However, taxpayers’ subsidies are what keep the ferry ride fares comparatively low, and they will continue to do so under the announced expansion.

“Coney Island, your ship has come in!” the mayor exclaimed at a news conference early Monday afternoon.

The ferry from the seaside community will launch from Coney Island Creek, on the northwest shore of Coney Island, and will arrive at Wall Street in about 35 minutes, according to James Patchett, chief executive of the city’s Economic Development Corporation. He was also in attendance at the news conference.

Both he and the mayor said that the details of the ferry service aren’t necessarily simple.

“It will cost money,” Mayor De Blasio said, adding that the cost will be about “$100 million in capital expenses."

In addition, said Patchett, in order to keep the cost of a ferry ticket to $2.75 — the same as a single ride subway fare — each ticket would be subsidized by the city, at a rate of nearly $7.00 per ticket, according to Patchett.

That subsidy is already being paid for commuters on existing NYC Ferry routes. Currently, about 12,500 passengers use NYC Ferry daily. That number will grow under the mayor’s new plan.

By comparison, about 5.7 million people use the subway daily.

Regarding the details of the ferry creation, one local resident, Annette Wesley, who’d attended the news conference, said, “It’s not gonna please everybody.”

“It’ll have its ups and downs,” she said, but with more ups than downs. “I'm looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, at the Coney Island subway terminal, from which commuters face a round trip commute to and from Manhattan that can last as long as three hours, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“It would be much easier,” said commuter Kero Malak. “It would cut my time at least in half.”

Lynette Viera echoed his point. “It'll be a quicker and more pleasant commute,” the daily subway rider told PIX11 News. When she was reminded that the ferry ticket would cost the same as a subway fare, she was all for it. “Why not?” Viera asked.

The Coney Island ferry will not start running until 2021. When it is in operation, the mayor said, it will stop in Bay Ridge also, and then end at Wall Street.

Also part of the NYC Ferry expansion will be a commuter ferry from the St. George terminal in Staten Island, running to Midtown, on the West Side, at 39th Street. It won't be in operation until 2020.

Beginning in May of this year, the Astoria ferry route will also include a stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Also, in 2021 there will be two expansions of existing ferry routes. The ferry from Soundview, the Bronx, to Wall Street will extend to Throgs Neck in the Bronx. In addition, the South Brooklyn ferry line will start at Sunset Park/Brooklyn Army Terminal. Before, it had started in Bay Ridge. The Bay Ridge stop will become part of the Coney Island ferry route.

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