Mayor Eric Adams unveils future of NYC Ferry after audit uncovers huge losses

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Mayor Eric Adams unveiled his vision for the future of NYC Ferry, the city-run ferry service that has been hemorrhaging millions of dollars for years.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday unveiled his vision for the future of NYC Ferry, the city-run ferry service that has been hemorrhaging millions of dollars for years.

Adams, speaking at the Astoria Ferry Landing, said "NYC Ferry Forward" will move away from the universal $2.75 fare, originally set to align with subways and buses, in favor of staggered pricing.

The base fare will increase to $4, but daily riders will be able to buy a 10 pack for $27.50, which will keep their daily fare at $2.75.

Lower income riders, seniors, and those with disabilities who qualify for a "Fair Fares" program, similar to the one run by MTA, will pay $1.35

The plan also includes free trip vouchers and expanded outreach to NYCHA residents, making it easier for New Yorkers to bike to and from the ferry, and new opportunities for revenue generation.

Adams will also eliminate the $1 bike fee across the entire NYC Ferry system to help encourage environmentally sustainable multi-modal transportation.

"Getting around New York City shouldn't feel like you're running a 5K," Adams said. "Wherever you live in the five boroughs, we want you to have choices, and our vision for the NYC Ferry helps provide New Yorkers with those choices. More and more New Yorkers are now using the NYC Ferry to get to work and get around, so we are writing a new chapter in the history of the NYC Ferry system and of transportation in our city, one built on the three pillars of equity, accessibility, and fiscal sustainability."

Eligible New Yorkers will be able to apply for the Ferry Discount Program using the NYC Ferry website or by mailing in an application.

Once verified, eligible riders can buy discounted tickets through the NYC Ferry app or at NYC Ferry ticket windows and agents.

The NYC Ferry app will also support digital wallet apps like Cash App to expand access for more New Yorkers.

In an effort to generate new revenue and continue increasing ridership, NYC Ferry will launch the Rockaway Rocket this month.

The new, reservation-based shuttle pilot program with direct service from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to Rockaway.

The shuttle will run on summer weekends and holidays from July 23 until Labor Day weekend, supplementing the current NYC Ferry service on the Rockaway route.

Additionally, NYC Ferry will work to generate additional revenue by seeking new public-private sponsorship opportunities and developing a plan to maximize revenue from any underused vessels, including for film or TV productions.

These opportunities aim to further reduce system costs and public subsidies in the future.

Additionally, New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which oversees NYC Ferry, will initiate a competitive, open bidding process for a new ferry operation contract this summer.

The NYC Ferry system provides more than 6 million riders annually.

Earlier this month, Comptroller Brad Lander released the findings of an audit that found the EDC underreported a quarter-billion dollars in ferry-related expenses.

The audit found EDC racked up $758 million in expenditures but only reported $534 million in its audited financial statements and other records.

The audit also found the city's subsidy-per-ride is double the original estimate of $6.60 and closer to $13.20, and that several EDC decisions -- including buying vessels at higher than market cost and the early termination of the East River contract -- resulted in $66 million in unnecessary expenses.

"NYC Ferry offers a critical transportation option that thousands of people use every day," a mayor's office spokesperson said after the audit. "Concerns around the system's finances are well known. The prior administration rushed NYCEDC to establish a large and complex ferry system, and we are keenly aware there is room for improvement. We are working actively on an innovative plan to write a new chapter for the ferry system centered on true financial sustainability and access for communities that need it."

You can read the full audit at the comptroller's website.

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