ST. GEORGE — Riders of the Staten Island Ferry may soon be able to surf more than the waves on their 25-minute ferry ride — they might be getting Wi-Fi too, officials said.
The city’s Department of Transportation released a Request for Expressions of Interests (RFEI) on Friday to explore the idea to add free wireless Internet on the ferry boats and in the terminals, the Staten Island Advance originally reported.
The RFEI will look to get private companies’ plans on how to integrate WiFi for ferry riders, and the city will release a separate bid if it is deemed feasible, the DOT said in a statement.
“WiFi is a part of everyday life for millions of New Yorkers and this search will help us learn if the time and the technology is now right for our Staten Island Ferry system and its 65,000 daily passengers,” Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.
The DOT has started a trial run by putting WiFi at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal recently, and plans to put a similar trial at the St. George terminal, the DOT said.
Currently, some smartphones can get Internet service on their boat ride, but speeds are sluggish and the connection isn't strong, said Nicholas Zvegintzov, chairman of the Staten Island Ferry Riders Committee.
"If you have a good signal, it comes in slow," he said. "With WiFi, it would come in much faster."
While some passengers enjoy a quiet 25-minute ride on the ferry, others view it as a disconnect from work and home, and the wireless Internet will help them stay connected, Councilwoman Debi Rose said.
“With this upgrade, those traveling will be able to stay connected allowing them to send out important emails and tourists will be able to upload pictures seamlessly to their social media pages about their travels,” Rose said in a statement.
The deadline to submit an RFEI will be on Oct. 10.