Here at Public Works Partners, we get excited about public transportation. So, when we heard that NYC Ferry had a plan to expand their services to all five boroughs, we knew we had to jump aboard.

 

The idea of using ferries to transverse the waterways of New York City is not a novel idea. In the earlier years before the myriad of bridges spanning New York City’s waterways were built, ferries were the main mode of transportation between boroughs. While many of the older piers used for ferry service have disappeared or been repurposed, ferries are making a strong comeback.

Since its official launch in 2017, NYC Ferry has been a rousing success with interest and ridership increasing every year. After only one year since its official launch, the city announced that it will invest $300M in capital spending to keep the ferries moving over the next five years, with an additional $100M earmarked to add additional boats and landings. The investment seems to be a needed one as projections have ferry ridership reaching 11M annual riders by the year 2023.

Led by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) the ferry expansion project will be phased in from 2019 to 2021. Once completed, five new landings will have been added (Midtown West – Pier 79; Battery Park; St. George; Throggs Neck; and Coney Island), along with the modification of three existing landings (Hunters Point South; South Williamsburg; and DUMBO) and the creation of a new homeport in Red Hook for docking boats. More importantly though, once complete, the additional routes will mean that NYC Ferry will officially service all five boroughs of the city.*

As part of the expansion process, an environmental review of proposed landings is needed, part of which requires community input and comment. Public Works Partners along with our friends at AKRF worked together to engage the community and gain their input as to which factors the city should consider as part of their environmental impact assessment. Using our community engagement expertise, Public Works Partners helped coordinate meeting logistics and ensure that all our partners were prepared to connect with the public.

While the full results of the environmental assessment will not be out until later this year, what is for certain is the excitement that is growing over the continued expansion of the NYC ferry system. Both City and State officials have expressed their support, noting the possibilities for increased mobility, accessibility, and economic benefits that come from increasing foot traffic of both locals and tourists in otherwise ‘transit deserts’.

So, the next time you are out this summer and want to explore the city, consider using the ferry system. Not only will you be supporting an affordable and convenient transit option, but you will be able to enjoy the great outdoors as you hit the open waters and catch great views of the city skyline. And the best part? It will cost you the same $2.75 as the subway. If there is something that someone in New York can’t pass up, it’s a great deal.

*The Staten Island Ferry, while connecting Manhattan to Staten Island and operated by New York City’s Department of Transportation, is not part of the NYC Ferry system.

 

Matthew Do is a Project Manager at Public Works Partners. He specializes in helping government implement innovative projects.