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Free Governors Island Ferry May Cost $2 Next Summer

By Gustavo Solis | December 4, 2013 6:54am | Updated on December 4, 2013 1:33pm
 A proposal calls for Governors Island to be open seven days a week but charging a $2 fare to pay for the operating costs.
Governors Island
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GOVERNORS ISLAND — The last free ferry to Governors Island may have sailed.

To cover the cost of keeping the island open seven days a week next summer, the Trust for Governors Island has quietly proposed charging a $2 round-trip fare for the formerly free ferries to the island, according to a Trust presentation.

The revenue from the paid Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn ferries would "support expanded access" to the island in 2014, Trust officials said in the presentation. After years of being open just 40 days each season, the Trust hopes to open the island to the public every day from May 24 to Sept. 29 next year — 120 days in all.

The Trust will make a final decision soon on expanded public access to the island and the fee for the seven-minute ferry ride, spokeswoman Elizabeth Rapuano said in an email.

"In November, The Trust solicited and received feedback from the advocacy community and elected officials about...the proposed expansion of the 2014 public season and possible ferry fare to fund increased access and operations," she said. "The Trust solicited this public input to incorporate into a presentation to its Board of Directors."

A November presentation by the Trust pointed out the $2 ferry would still cost less than a subway trip or a ride on the East River Ferry. Children would continue to ride the Governors Island ferry for free, seniors would be charged $1 and there would be no extra charge for bikes.

The ferries would run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, according to the presentation.

"We'd love for the ferries to stay free, but feel the proposed fare is not onerous, especially if it will support having the island open for many more days next summer," said Susan Dempsey, executive director of the Governors Island Alliance, a group that supports the island.

The expanded access would give the public more time at the new 30-acre park space on Governors Island, which includes a hammock-dotted grove and two ball fields. The space was completed shortly after the island closed to the public this fall but will welcome its first visitors in May.

Looking further ahead, the Trust has chosen three private tenants to fill some of the island's historic buildings: a day spa, an international student campus and an arts center run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

About 400,000 people visited Governors Island last summer when the ferry was free and the island was open only on Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays, according to the Trust.