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East River Ferry Draws 12,000 Riders in First Two Days

By Amy Zimmer | June 15, 2011 4:09pm | Updated on June 15, 2011 4:11pm

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

MANHATTAN — Nearly 12,000 passengers hopped the free East River ferries during its first two days, NY Waterway announced on Wednesday.

The service — connecting stops in Manhattan at East 34th Street and Wall Street's Pier 11 with Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and DUMBO — is free until June 25.

It remains to be seen whether ridership will plummet once the freebie rides dry up and the service will cost $4 for a one-way or $140 for an unlimited monthly pass.

"We have been blown away by the astounding number of people who rode the ferry Monday and to see the numbers remain consistent for the second day is very encouraging,” Paul Goodman, CEO of BillyBey Ferry Co., which operates the ferries, said in a statement.

On a gray Monday, more than 5,700 people opted for the waterfront transit. The next day, 6,000 passengers rode the ferries, NY Waterway reported.

City officials hope the service becomes a viable alternative to crowded buses and subways.

The city is providing a $9.3 million subsidy over three years for the pilot program.

During the weekday rush — when ferries run every 20 minutes — commuters at East 34th Street can connect to a free shuttle bus looping around 35th Street to Sixth Avenue, then up to 48th Street at Lexington Avenue, before heading back to the ferry landing.

The ferries operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekends. They will run every 30 minutes during off-peak hours.