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East River Ferry Service to Launch With Free Rides

An image of the East River waterfront from 2007 with the SeaStreak ferry seen at the East 34th Street pier.
An image of the East River waterfront from 2007 with the SeaStreak ferry seen at the East 34th Street pier.
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Flickr/Herve Boinay

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The new East River ferries setting sail later this month will offer free trips to entice riders, officials announced Wednesday.

For the first 12 days after service begins on June 13, riders will not have to pay for the new connection between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

"They say there's no free lunch, but there is a free ferry," Quinn told a group of smiling officials gathered on Pier 11 in the Financial District Wednesday morning.

Starting June 25, the ferry will cost $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited day pass and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass.

The boats will go from Long Island City in Queens to E. 34th Street in Manhattan, then to Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg and DUMBO in Brooklyn, before finishing at Pier 11 in Manhattan.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other officials gathered on Pier 11 to announce that the new East River ferry service will begin with free rides starting June 13.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other officials gathered on Pier 11 to announce that the new East River ferry service will begin with free rides starting June 13.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

During the summer, the ferries will also stop at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and on Governors Island.

The ferries will run every half hour from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekends. Extra boats will boost service to every 20 minutes during rush hour.

"This new ferry service will make it easier for thousands more New Yorkers to move throughout the city each day," Deputy Mayor Robert Steel said at Wednesday's announcement.

Several politicians said they hope the new ferry service will ease crowding on subways and buses, especially on the L train in Brooklyn and the 7 train in Queens, which are now packed to capacity during rush hour.

"There is now another way to commute in New York City that is viable, that is affordable, that is green and that is enjoyable," said City Councilman Stephen Levin, who represents the Brooklyn waterfront.

"What a delight to be able to commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan by ferry."

The city and New York Waterway, a private ferry company, have committed to operate the ferries for three years, no matter how many riders they draw, said Paul Goodman, president of New York Waterway.

Goodman said he may raise fares slightly over the next three years, depending on fuel prices, but he promised they would not go up by much.

The city spent $10 million improving ferry landings in Brooklyn and Queens and will spend another $9 million to subsidize the service over the next three years, said Seth Pinsky, president of the city Economic Development Corp.

That comes out to a subsidy of about $7.50 per rider, which is less than it costs to subsidize express bus service, Pinsky said.

Quinn said she hopes to eventually extend the ferry service to Roosevelt Island, the Bronx and the Hudson River.

"We have grand plans for expansions," she said. "This is just the first step."