FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Citywide ferry operator Hornblower, Inc., has stopped selling its boat tickets through what police have called a network of aggressive, sometimes illicit street hawkers, after a DNAinfo New York story exposed the company's practice of contracting questionable resale vendors — and sparked a city investigation.
DNAinfo reported Wednesday that the city had asked the Department of Investigation to review Hornblower after a DNAinfo story in May detailed the company's link to the crush of sometimes violent ticket sellers at The Battery who trick tourists trying to make their way to the Statue of Liberty.
Since the DNAinfo story, Hornblower — which was tapped to run the city's planned ferry service in March — has stopped using the dozens of vendors forcefully soliciting tourists in Lower Manhattan, the company said.
"Soon after the May DNAinfo article, Hornblower Cruises ceased making sightseeing tickets available to all third party street team operators. We are pleased that the City now has new regulations in place that govern ticket sales on the streets," Hornblower said in statement.
According to sources, the DOI investigation also began soon after the article ran.
Hornblower used to work with ticket resale companies that often had men with criminal records at the helm. One of those companies had a convicted rapist in charge while he was still in jail, DNAinfo previously reported.
Contractors would buy tickets in bulk from the ferry operator for at least $50,000 a time. Those companies would then hire street vendors, many of whom had violent criminal records, or were convicted sex offenders, to sell Hornblower tickets at The Battery.
Police have arrested dozens of street sellers at The Battery as part of an ongoing investigation. In February, one vendor was arrested after he punched a tourist and fractured his skull, the NYPD said.
Manhattan's 1st Precinct, through a tweet Thursday, also acknowledged that Hornblower is no longer using street sellers to peddle their boat tickets. The swell of sellers Downtown continues, however, with another boat company tapping into the aggressive network, police said.
In an unrelated press conference Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio defended Hornblower, saying that the management of the company appeared far removed from some "bad apples," adding that the city was moving ahead with the ferry service, slated to launch in 2017.
DOI declined to comment on the investigation.