In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a citywide ferry service that would cost the same as a bus or train ride, including several new routes that would hopscotch along both sides of the East River and would reach as far as the Rockaways in Queens, Soundview in the Bronx, Coney Island in Brooklyn, and Stapleton in Staten Island, where new housing developments are currently under construction.
Ferry service in New York City, aside from the Staten Island Ferry which is subsidized so that there is currently no fare, have proven difficult to sustain. The Rockaway link was recently shut down for lack of ridership and high cost (as much as $30 per passenger to run, with a lesser fare per person).
I like the idea of a beefed-up ferry service, and I have occasionally used the current service run by NY Waterway’s East River Ferry, which was inaugurated in 2011. The ferry is run as a shuttle, with seven stops on each side of the river: Midtown/34th Street, Hunters Point South, India Street in Greenpoint, North 6th Street and Schaefer Landing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, and Wall Street/Pier 11. The fare is $4.00 weekdays and $6.00 on weekends.
My experience with the East River Ferry is mixed. When I am wandering about the East Side and want a quick ride back to Hunters Point in Queens, from whence I can get the #7 train, the ferry should be a very convenient amenity. There’s only one boat per hour, though, and the last time I attempted it in December, I of course arrived just after the last boat left. I decided to get an M34 bus back to Penn Station, for expedience’ sake and also because it was 35 degrees and drizzling. The East River Ferry does run a shuttle bus that connects the 34th Street landing with Midtown. On other occasions, though, when the weather is pleasant and my usual bad luck is not with me, I can arrive and enjoy the weather for a short time before boarding. Other lines, also, use the landing and people who are not everyday riders can be easily confused about what boat to take.