Brooklyn Heights

City planning for blockbuster ferry crowds in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Bigger vessels, more staff on their way

May 1, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Visitors queued up to ride the NYC Ferry last summer in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The city is taking steps to ease ferry congestion at the popular destination. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
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It’s ferry good news for Brooklyn Heights commuters and tourists: The city will launch larger boats and add more dockhands to ease congestion at Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the most popular destinations on the water-borne transit line.

City officials were slated to present the improvements to the park’s Community Advisory Council on Tuesday night, but sources told the Brooklyn Eagle that the city will introduce three new 350-passenger ferries into the 19-vessel, 150-passenger citywide fleet this summer.

Three additional boats will arrive “sometime next year,” said Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman Stephanie Baez. She added that the city will also charter several bigger vessels, based on demand — such as deploying them on beach routes on hot days.

In addition, the ferry is hiring more staff “at particularly busy landings, like Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1, to help with queuing,” Baez added.

More staff could help ease long lines that sometimes stretch from the dock at Pier 1 almost to the River Café.

The extra hands, Baez said, would also help tourists, who need “hands-on guidance” because they are less likely to be familiar with the NYC Ferry service and its app-based ticketing.

“More and larger signs” are also in the works, Baez said.

As part of the regular summer schedule, ferries will also run more frequently.

The city launched the $325-million ferry service last May with a fare of just $2.75 a ride — and ridership is 34 percent higher than predicted. The service has proven to be extremely popular among users, though less popular with budget hawks, who cited the initial $6.60 per-trip subsidy provided to ferry riders by taxpayers. This per-ride subsidy is projected to go down as ridership increases, however.

A large proportion of the weekday riders who use the park’s two ferry slips — Pier 1/DUMBO to the north and Pier 6 to the south — are not tourists but everyday city commuters. According to the Economic Development Corporation, 87 percent of riders are New Yorkers — and on the East River Route, 74 percent are commuters during peak hours.

The moves were hailed by local community members.

“We are happy that they are proactively dealing with a successful program,” the park’s community advisory council Traffic and Transportation Committee Chairwoman Linda DeRosa told the Eagle.

As of December 31, NYC Ferry had served roughly 3 million riders across all four routes currently in operation. A whopping 1.6 million of these riders took the East River Route, which connects to Pier 1 in the park. Another half million people rode on the South Brooklyn Route, which launched June 1 and connects to Pier 6.

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