[UPDATE BELOW] Considering New Yorkers' predilection for waiting on lines, it should come as no surprise that the NYC Ferry's debut month has created some pretty serious queues. And indeed, as the Times pointed out today, it appears the service has exceeded its expected popularity, and now the de Blasio administration is moving quickly to add more boats to its fleet.
So far, the new ferry service boasts three routes, with one running between Far Rockaway, Sunset Park, and Wall Street; another making stops along the East River in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and a third servicing South Brooklyn. Astoria will get its own route in August, and the Lower East Side, and the Bronx will be blessed with forthcoming routes in 2018. The ferries, whose rides are now the cost of a MetroCard swipe, are a welcome addition to the city's transport options, and with the NYC Beach Bus dead in the water this summer, the Far Rockaway route has thus far proved especially popular, with over 8,000 passengers traveling from Wall Street to Rockaway over the weekend. In fact, that route was so popular, riders waiting to board in Sunset Park weren't able to get onboard:
The Sunset Park @NYCferry stop is a joke. Great scam though to have a line of people pay and never be able to get on a boat.
— Heather Shae (@heathershae) June 12, 2017
— Dana Viltz (@danaviltz) June 11, 2017
No one is able to get to the Rockaways from Sunset Park today. The ferries are full from Wall St. @NYCferry didn't bother telling anyone tho
— Kathryn McGrath (@kathrynmcg) June 11, 2017
The city has been trying to meet the overwhelming demand, and, as the Times reports, they've since moved to charter two extra boats on the weekends, to the tune of $485,000. City officials have also implored Hornblower, which operates the ferry service, to increase the capacity of three of the 20 boats expected to make their way up to the New York Harbor next year, from a 149-passenger capacity to 250.
City officials insist the angry crowds lined up on the docks aren't the result of their own miscalculations, arguing this is just what happens when a new program is introduced. "We’re still accumulating the data at this stage. Some of this is going to be trial and error," Wiley Norvell, a City Hall spokesman, told the Times. "We’re not the subway. We don’t have 70 years of detailed ridership telling us how many trains to run after a Yankee game." (Not that those 70 years of ridership stats have done much for the subway of late, but that's another matter).
An official with the Mayor's office told Gothamist that the city actually hoped the service would exceed its initial capacity, but balked at investing too much taxpayer money in the program before testing its popularity. The official noted the city purposefully opted for Hornblower's ferry design because it was flexible enough to expand from 149 to 250 passengers if necessary, a fact Mayor de Blasio noted earlier this month.
Still, riders on all three routes have complained about crowding pretty much since the expanded service's inception six weeks ago, and a year is a long time to wait for new boats:
— Tatiana Laudry (@TatianaBeaverh1) June 14, 2017
Wow so it seems the NYC ferry is working just well as the subway pic.twitter.com/N8vKupohnr
— Mike Murphy (@mcwm) June 15, 2017
— Sandra Cheng (@academicsandra) June 4, 2017
Wow! Hornblower really upgraded the @NYCferry service. Horns are loud yet the ferries are late and full. Skip the ferry take the subway
— Isik Baris Volkan (@vtude74) June 4, 2017
So, certainly, there are kinks to work out, though unlike the subway the ferries let you soothe some of your delay-related stress with booze and fresh air.
Update 2:34 p.m.: Stephanie Baez, a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, told Gothamist in a statement:
After being in operation for just 6 weeks, demand for NYC ferry service is exceeding even our highest ridership projections with over 400,000 passengers to date. New Yorkers are turning to the ferries in droves, and we're stepping up to meet demand. We're responding to that demand by ordering larger boats and chartering vessels, and we'll continue working towards shaping a system that's financially sustainable and serves as many people as possible.