Bronx commuters say NYC Ferry serves all New Yorkers

Bronx commuters who are benefitting from the New York City ferry system, say it’s an easily accessible mode of transportation, totally disagreeing with a brash statement that appeared in City & State, a weekly political magazine, that claimed it only serves a white affluent demographic.

Survey results released Tuesday, October 1 from the NYC Economic Development Corporation—which manages the ferry network—show that 64 percent of the ferry riders surveyed in May and June identified as white, while the remaining 36 percent were people of color.

A majority of the riders (80 percent) live near the water or in walking distance of a landing, the report said.

The figures, from EDC’s fourth survey, also revealed ferry riders’ annual median income fell between $75,000 and $99,999, slightly higher than the $73,000 median of the system’s service area. Only 36 percent of riders earn less than $75,000 a year, the survey found.

Launched in May 2017 by Mayor de Blasio, the city ferry network now consists of six routes plus the Governors Island Shuttle, serving as a new transportation option for underserved transit neighborhoods, keeping the fare at $2.75 for a one-way ticket—the same fare for bus and subway commuters.

The Soundview ferry route—launched August 2018—connects Clason Point Park to Wall Street/Pier 11, making stops at East 90th Street and East 34th Street along its route.

According to the survey, during the a.m. and p.m. peak hours, 75 percent of riders use the ferry to commute to work or school, while 80 percent of riders (non-work) use the service on the weekends.

“I see everybody taking the ferry. I think it’s just more convenient where the ports are and it’s the same fare as the subway,” a Castle Hill commuter said.

Another commuter said, “I believe (the ferry is) servicing everyone and this is a great thing for Bronx residents.”

Based on the demographic surveys, Soundview ferry riders are predominantly Hispanic/Latino, followed by white and black commuters, according to the survey.

“I’m not actually surprised by the report but I always see a very diverse crowd (using) Soundview,” said City Island resident Jessica Sinclair, who teaches at a public middle school in the Wall Street area.

Sinclair, who takes the ferry service daily, says she isn’t surprised by the EDC survey given the fact that the ferries run along waterfront neighborhoods. However, she says, at Soundview, specifically, it’s a good starting point helping those commuters in areas described as a “metro desert.”

Meanwhile, a new landing will be added at Ferry Point Park by 2021, providing the Bronx with a second location.

Additionally, last year, based on feedback received, EDC worked with the MTA to expand Bx27 bus service to the Soundview landing.

When the new routes are launched in Ferry Point Park, Coney Island and St. George the subsidy to run the system will stabilize between $7 and $8 per rider.

“The subsidy for the service continues to drop; in FY18, it was $10.72. In FY19, the subsidy was $9.34. This is a reduction by almost 13 percent,” an EDC spokesman said.

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