New York City high school students will soon be able to ride the city ferry system at a discount and receive a municipal ID that grants them free access to museums and cultural institutions, after the City Council approved the two measures on Thursday.
A bill sponsored by Councilmember Amanda Farías of the Bronx will allow teens to ride the city’s ferry system for $1.35 — compared to the $4 full price fare.
They are now the latest group paying a reduced fare to ride the costliest mode of transportation the city maintains. The city began offering reduced fares of $1.35 for seniors, people with disabilities and low-income riders in 2022.
“Not only are we impacting our students and how they can afford that commute, but we are also lifting that cost for the students’ families,” Farías said during a press conference on Thursday. The bill is expected to take effect on Sept. 1.
The Council also voted on a bill sponsored by Councilmember Rita Joseph of Brooklyn that mandates high school students receive an application for a municipal ID at the beginning of each school year.
In addition to serving as an official form of government identification, the IDNYC card, which is also available to undocumented New Yorkers, offers free and discounted access to programs and cultural institutions. It can be used to open a bank account, apply for a job and get food stamps.
The push to make the ferry cheaper for students began last fall, prior to the city raising the fare from $2.75 to help generate more revenue for the ferry system, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers.
Despite costing the everyday rider $4 for a one-way ticket – almost twice as expensive as the standard $2.75 needed to ride the subway or bus – the fares aren’t enough to cover the cost to maintain the city’s ferry system. Officials previously stalled plans to expand the ferry system after an oversight committee found the city underreported nearly $224 million worth of ferry-related expenses from 2015 to 2021, according to a recent audit.
And as local officials respond to calls from residents to make the ferry as financially feasible as possible, the city is expected to pick up the tab. The move to include high schoolers in the reduced fare program comes as the Council remains in tense budget negotiations with Mayor Eric Adams’ administration.
The $1.35 high schoolers can pay in a few months still makes the ferry pricier than riding the bus or subway, which is free for students in grades K-12 during school days.
Asked about the discrepancy in cost for students between riding the ferry and other forms of transit, Farías said she knew of families in her Bronx district who were already electing to have their children take the ferry.
“I believe we have to start somewhere, especially for young people when they're already paying $8 roundtrip or $40 a week,” she said.