BROOKLYN — Almost a month after its debut, the NYC Ferry is averaging 12,000 riders per week on its Rockaway route and 45,000 riders per week on its East River route and plans are on schedule to start the South Brooklyn route June 1, officials said.
And although the service has proven too popular at certain times, even leaving some passengers cooling their heels for an hour awaiting a next boat, those schedules could be modified as ridership climbs or bike-rack usage maxes out.
"NYC Ferry is closely monitoring ridership levels and use of amenities, like bike racks, and is closely engaged with NYCEDC to discuss current ridership trends," said Skye Ostreicher, spokeswoman for the NYC Ferry operated by Hornblower.
"Schedules can be adjusted very quickly once the determination is made that the changes would improve service. To minimize disruptions, NYC Ferry/EDC together would make significant schedule changes during times when riders are accustomed to seeing service changes signage– like the first of the month, or the start of a new season."
The May 7 Con Ed oil spill into the East River caused the boats to reduce speeds on U.S. Coast Guard orders until May 23, but didn't appear to impact ridership numbers, Ostreicher said.
"The oil spill began at the start of week 2, in which ridership numbers remained steady at approximately 6,000 riders a day on the East River route," she said. "Even though oil spill effects carried over into week 3, ridership numbers actually increased in that time to approximately 8,000 to 9,000 per day (May 14-20)."
The oil spill also had no impact on NYC Ferry's future Navy Yard homeport, which is one track to open in 2018, Ostreicher said.
Related service alerts could be tracked on the @NYCFerry Twitter account or on the ferry's app. Travel times for the ferries are also now integrated into Google Maps.
The next route to launch, South Brooklyn, is scheduled to begin as planned June 1, Ostreicher said. The Astoria route will start sometime in August but no precise date has been set, she said.
The South Brooklyn route will travel from Bay Ridge to Sunset Park, Red Hook (with a weekend detour to Governors Island,) Pier 6 at Atlantic Avenue and Pier 1 near Fulton Landing before heading to Manhattan's Pier 11 near Wall Street.
Red Hook, for one, has big plans for the June 1 debut. The maritime advocacy group PortSide New York, which is headquartered in a 79-year-old tanker docked in the Atlantic Basin, will offer free continental breakfast, a Champagne toast, maritime costumed characters and free copies of the Red Hook Star Revue from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents the neighborhood, praised the city for placing the dock near the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal and adding a weekend stop on Governors Island. Though more could be done, he said.
"Fares matching MTA rates are a good start but free transfers between the ferries and MTA subways and buses should be our goal," Menchaca said.
The one-way ferry fare is $2.75, the same as a subway or bus ride on the MTA, but it doesn't allow a free transfer to those services.