EDC’s $58M in Times Square rent mostly sunk into ferries

Highly subsidized rides were funded outside of city’s budget process

New York /
Sep.September 30, 2020 12:30 PM
Economic Development Corporation CEO James Patchett (Getty; iStock)

Economic Development Corporation CEO James Patchett (Getty; iStock)

The Economic Development Corporation used to send the city coffers tens of millions of dollars in rent revenue from its Times Square real estate holdings. Now EDC spends almost all of it to operate the NYC Ferry system, The City reported.

The city’s West 42nd Street properties brought in nearly $58 million in rent last year, slightly more than the $53 million a year EDC shells out to prop up ferry operations. That excludes the cost of acquiring the boats, which was paid from the city’s capital funds.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio called the launch of the NYC Ferry in 2017 “a new day for our city,” critics have charged that its cost outweighs its benefits. The watchdog Citizens Budget Commission calculated last year that with passengers paying just $2.75 a ride, each one cost the government $9.34. Observers have noted that the vast majority of ferry riders come from high-income neighborhoods.

The mayor has said repeatedly that the expense is worth it because it adds convenience and redundancy to the transit system. But detractors note that because it is funded by EDC, a self-funded agency controlled by the mayor, NYC Ferry is outside of the City Council-approved municipal budget.

“The problem is that it’s not part of the budgeting process — it’s a unilateral decision on the part of the mayor just to keep one of his pet projects afloat,” state Sen. John Liu, a former city comptroller, told The City.

EDC did not immediately return a request for comment. [The City] — Sasha Jones


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