ST. GEORGE — A fast ferry could set sail next year to shuttle Staten Islanders to Midtown in just 25 minutes.
Borough President James Oddo announced the "framework of an agreement" with the private company NY Waterway to operate a ferry from St. George to the West 39th Street Terminal in Midtown in roughly the same time it takes the Staten Island Ferry to get to the Whitehall terminal.
"This is a genuinely big deal," said Oddo. "It's certainly not a cure all or a fix for everyone, but I certainly believe this will provide a bunch of Staten Islanders with an additional option."
Under the draft agreement, developers of the Empire Outlets and New York Wheel would build a dock at the Ferris wheel site and NY Waterway would operate the service, Oddo said.
The dock needs approvals from the New York City Economic Development Corporation before work can start on the dock, but it could be finished next year with service starting soon after.
Unlike the NYC Ferry service launching May 1, the St. George-to-Midtown ferry will not get any money from the city to subsidize riders' fares.
Oddo said he expects tourists to use the service to get to the Wheel and Outlets during off-peak times and asked NY Waterway to offer discount monthly passes for commuters to drive down the cost.
"In essence you have some sort of subsidy by those tourists and tourist fares," the borough president said. "If there is that robust counter commute, those off-peak tourists, maybe that's a way where we can really bring in this fare that is accessible to as many folks."
NY Waterway — which lost a bid to operate the citywide ferry and formerly operated the East River Ferry — runs service on the Hudson River but gets no subsidies from the city to push fares down, a spokesman for the company said.
Pricing has not been determined for the planned St. George-to-Midtown ferry route yet, but NY Waterway's other tickets range from $6 to $21.50 per ride, depending on the distance.
The company has two subsidized routes upstate with tickets priced at between $1.75 and $4.
For the NYC Ferry, the city plans to pay $30 million for operational support each year in addition to $6.60 for each fare to keep the one-way cost at $2.75. Currently, each free Staten Island Ferry ride costs the city $5.86 per person.
Oddo said he's still pushing the city to bring subsidized ferry service to the borough, including adding a stop for the NYC Ferry and adding Staten Island Ferry stops at Wall Street or East 34th Street.
The Department of Transportation pledged to look into extending Staten Island Ferry service in June, and a spokesman said a study on the cost and feasibility will be finished in the fall.