Despite low ridership, NYC, taking the long view, commits to East River Ferry

Though it has garnered positive reviews from riders, the East River Ferry service may not be attracting enough business to warrant a $9 million city subsidy promised over three years, according to the New York Times. On Monday morning, for example, the Times counted just 14 people catching the 8:39 ferry to Pier 11 Near Wall Street and 21 taking the 8:40 ferry to East 34th Street. About 1.2 million people rode the ferries in their first year of service, but many were tourists and families who used the service for sight-seeing.

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The city funded the services in hopes of stimulating further redevelopment of the industrial waterfronts in north Brooklyn and Long Island City. The ferry service, which holds 149 passengers and costs $4 per ride or $140 for a monthly pass, is dependent on the city subsidies to become a viable competitor to the subway, according to its operator, the BillyBey Ferry Company division of New York Waterway.

And Economic Development Corp. President Seth Pinsky said he remains committed to the service and is looking to extend the funding. It is unlikely the business would sustain itself. Pinksy said the service’s long-term success was predicated on it remaining regular and predictable, and guaranteeing funding would show the city’s long-term commitment to that goal. [NYT] — Adam Fusfeld