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NYC's Citywide Ferry Service Seeks Home at Brooklyn Navy Yard

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New details emerge on the ferry service set to launch next summer

With the citywide ferry service set to launch at the end of June next year, the New York Times has taken a deep dive into the proposal revealing several new details about the service that is hoping to connect all five boroughs by boat.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the piece:

  • In March this year, Hornblower won the bid to operate the service. They’ve picked a design by Australian marine engineering company Incat Crowther to build 18, 85-foot boats that fit 149 passengers each, and will be built at a cost of $4 million per boat. The first of them will be ready early next year.
  • The ferry service will commence with three new routes to South Brooklyn, Astoria, and Rockaways, in Queens. This will be followed by routes to the Lower East Side and Soundview in the Bronx, the following year. Hornblower will need nine boats to operate the first three routes. A few people in the ferry service industry raised concerns with the Times about completing construction on the boats in time — they usually take about a couple of years, and Hornblower only has one. That being said, the city has set aside funds for the company to charter additional boats in case there is a delay.
  • Tickets on the ferry will cost the same as a ride on the subway — $2.75 one way. Offering ferry service at the same cost as buses and subways is pretty unprecedented, according to the Times with major cities that have similar services like Sydney and San Francisco, both charging more. The city will provide a large operating subsidy to maintain this cost, and the Times noted that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s predecessors were unwilling to do so in the past.
  • The city is hoping for the home port for the ferry service to be a pier at Brooklyn Navy Yard. That however is in disrepair and may not be ready in time for when the service launches. If that is the case, the city will use a pier in New Jersey until the one at Navy Yard is fixed.
  • The city will spend a total of $325 million on the service. About $85 million will be spent on creating 13 landings and repair work on the pier at Brooklyn Navy Yard. About $70 million will be spent on acquiring new boats, which the city will ultimately purchase from Hornblower. The latter will be contracted to run the service for six years, and then have a chance to renew for an additional five years after that. The existing East River Ferry service will be integrated into the citywide ferry.