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NYC Ferry Service Could Get Bigger Boats to Meet Demand, Mayor Says

By Katie Honan | May 31, 2017 3:24pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an announcement about the Red Hook ferry route, said they would consider adding larger boats to the NYC Ferry system's fleet.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at an announcement about the Red Hook ferry route, said they would consider adding larger boats to the NYC Ferry system's fleet.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

RED HOOK — The city’s new ferry service is gonna need a bigger boat, the mayor said Wednesday.

The NYC Ferry has seen “unprecedented” ridership since launching its first route May 1, leaving passengers stranded on docks, especially during Memorial Day weekend.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the press event the day before the Thursday launch of the South Brooklyn route, said the city is looking at ways to increase capacity — which could mean adding more boats, or even larger ones, within the next year.

They've already adjusted some schedules to decrease traffic at docks, but as ridership increases, they may need other solutions, he said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the best answer is more of these boats, and the template is there, we can keep having them produced for us,” he said.

“But it is conceivable that bigger boats can make sense. We’ll have that information basically over the course of the next few months.”

The current 85-foot-long ferries, with a capacity of around 150, are being built in shipyards in Louisiana and Alabama, and the city ordered 12 for the 2017 launch.

Since its debut, the NYC Ferry has averaged 12,000 riders each week on the Rockaway route, and 45,000 per week on the East River route, according to the Economic Development Corporation.

The ridership demand is a “blessing” for the service, de Blasio said.

But it’s also been a headache for passengers left waiting sometimes up to an hour for the next boat.

On its first day, dozens were left behind on the Wall Street dock as an evening rush hour boat filled up quickly.

And during Memorial Day weekend, ridership far exceeded the boat capacity — stranding many and making boats late.

The highest ridership was on the ferry to Governors Island last weekend, EDC President James Patchett said. 

The South Brooklyn route launches Thursday, and the Astoria route will set sail sometime in August, officials 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.