NYC Ferry service set to expand

Commuters who ride the NYC Ferry generally rave about the service, which costs the same as a subway ride.

"I love it as an option versus the subway just as far as getting this really wonderful experience," said Brooklyn resident Jared White, who rides the ferry with his kids across the East River from their home in Dumbo to their school in lower Manhattan.

Andrew Rivera from the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens said the service is a lifesaver for him, too.

"I take the ferry about three times a week," Rivera said. "It's just a very reliable way to get into the city without having to deal with all the train traffic and all that other stuff."

But some critics say that a large chunk of the city's money shouldn't be going to a ferry.

The Citizens Budget Commission released a report this year that found the city shells out $10.73 in taxpayer dollars per ferry rider, which is just a little less than the $11.79 passenger subsidy for the MTA's express bus service. The report also found that the ferry serves less rides in a year than the subway serves in a day.

Stephanie Baez of the city's Economic Development Corporation called that an unfair comparison and said that we have to utilize our wide open coastline.

"You're comparing the cost to build a brand-new transit system versus a 100-year established train system that has been allowed to depreciate," Baez said. 

40% of residents in neighborhoods with ferry docks have low to moderate incomes, according to city officials. So the ferry serves as an affordable, easy commuting option, especially for people living in transit deserts, officials said.

"Like Soundview, like the Rockaways, where they don't have a dedicated mass transit service right now," Baez said. "From a cost comparison standpoint, it's much easier and cheaper to set up the ferry system to serve these communities than to build a brand-new subway line. 

Right now, NYC Ferry has six regular routes. More service is coming to parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in the next few years.