In 2017, New York City revamped the ferry system, adding larger boats and planning new routes to connect more boroughs. The city predicted that in 2017, 2.1 million people would use the system – but year end results showed that nearly 3 million people used the ferry services, exceeding expectations.
Bill De Blasio's ferry system is subsidized so that riders only pay the $2.75 it costs for a bus or subway ride. The New York Times reports that the subsidy accounts for the difference in what should be a $6.60 ride. There are currently six lines running, from Astoria, East River, Lower East River, Rockaway, Soundview, and South Brooklyn.
More than 100,000 passengers ride the ten ferry systems in New York City every day. Approximately 56 ferry terminals accommodate 66 ferry boats.
The Staten Island Ferry carries roughly 65,000 passenger trips every day on a single route between lower Manhattan and northern Staten Island, with eight vessels currently in operation. It carries more than 21 million passengers annually, and the trip is approximately 25 minutes long. Running since 1905, it is now operated by the NYC Department of Transportation. The Staten Island Ferry is free to all passengers, although the operating costs are $4.86 per passenger, per trip. The ferry previously cost 50 cents per ride, but the fare was eliminated in 1997 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s “One City, One Fare” initiative. The ferry formerly accommodated passenger cars for a $3 fare, but they were eliminated following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Several smaller ferry services operate on the waterfronts of New York City, many serving commuters between Manhattan and the outer boroughs and New Jersey. Others, like the Circle Line, are marketed to tourists, and some serve niches, like the IKEA ferry service from Lower Manhattan to Red Hook.
NYC.gov, "One City, One Fare," July 1997.
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, "Ferry Transportation."
SILive.com, "Are passenger cars on Staten Island ferryboats a safety risk?" April 2009.
SILive.com, "Staten Island Ferry costs taxpayers $4.86 per passenger, per trip," March 2013.