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Staten Island Ferry Sees Record Number Of Riders in Past Year

By Nicholas Rizzi | September 19, 2017 3:12pm
 The ridership of the Staten Island Ferry hit an all-time high this past year with 23.9 million passengers taking the free rider between Staten Island and Manhattan.
The ridership of the Staten Island Ferry hit an all-time high this past year with 23.9 million passengers taking the free rider between Staten Island and Manhattan.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — A record 23.9 million trips were made on the Staten Island Ferry this past year, a 4 percent increase from a year ago, according to the annual Mayor's Management Report released Monday.

Ridership, measured from July 2016 to June 2017, cleared the previous record of 23.1 million passengers set the prior year. On-time trips also increased slightly from 92.3 percent to 92.8.

Private ferry ridership also jumped citywide to 11.2 million riders — a 3 percent increase — which the report credited largely to the May 1 and June 1 launches, respectively, of the Rockaway and South Brooklyn routes on the NYC Ferry service.

The effective per-passenger subsidy the city pays on the Staten Island Ferry dropped to $5.16 from $5.87, according to the report. On the NYC Ferry, where riders pay $2.75 per trip, the city subsidy amounts to about $6.60 per passenger, according the earlier calculations released by the city.

The NYC Ferry service also took over (and lowered fares on) the East River Ferry route on May 1 and then launched its Astoria route Aug. 29. Routes in The Bronx and the Lower East Side are planned to debut next year but nothing more has been announced for Staten Island.

Borough President James Oddo wrote on Facebook that the increased number of ferry riders in the city shows the need for more routes and vowed to continue to pressure Mayor Bill de Blasio to add Staten Island to the "citywide" service.

"It demonstrates that if you provide reliable ferry service, it will be utilized," Oddo wrote. 

"That is why I continue to remind the de Blasio Administration every chance I get that we were the only borough left out of NYC Ferry service (formerly known as Five Borough Ferry Service and then Citywide Ferry Service), and continue to ask the city to right that inequity."

City officials have repeatedly said they would only consider adding more routes to NYC Ferry after the roll-out of all the planned ones.

Oddo has also been working to get other ferry options in the borough including a private express boat from St. George to Midtown and more stops on the Staten Island Ferry.

► READ MORE: When Big Orange Boats Aren't Enough: Staten Islanders Want More Ferries

But some smaller enhancements are coming to Staten Island Ferry service.

On Monday, the city brought back lower-level boarding for the ferry, more than a decade after the practice was ended, in an effort to help ease crowding while getting on the boat.

Lower-level boarding will be available during the morning rush hours at the St. George Terminal and all day at the Whitehall Terminal, according to the Department of Transportation.

Also Monday, the Empire Outlets announced that CitySightseeing will add a stop to its "Hop-on/Hop-off" ferry service when the mall opens next year after more than 80 percent of their riders said they would get off on Staten Island.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to partner with Empire Outlets connecting Manhattan and Staten Island,” says Mark Marmurstein, president and CEO of CitySightseeing New York, in a statement. “We look forward to bringing both tourists and locals alike who love to shop to this exciting new destination.”

► READ MORE: 6 Things You Didn't Know About the Staten Island Ferry