East River Ferry Has Way More Riders Than Anyone Expected

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Ridership on the East River Ferry, which had its maiden voyage back in June, has exceeded everyone's expectations.

448,670 people took a trip on a New York Waterway boat, The Brooklyn Paper reports, which is already 40,000 trips more than the company estimated for the entire year.

From June 25 to Oct. 9, 2,862 commuters took the ferry on an average weekday, and nearly double that number, 4,474 riders, rode during the average Saturday and Sunday, according to city figures.

Weekend ridership was six times higher than city projections, while weekday ridership was almost double what what officials anticipated.

Operators theorize that an often out-of-service L train, and nice autumn weather have combined to make the ferry a popular option with commuters.

And now BillyBey, the company that runs the East River Ferry under the flag of the New York Waterway, is scrambling to keep up the momentum, trying to persuade city officials to finance the run of more boats, The New York Times reports.

City officials, however, don't want to cough up anymore than the $3.1 million annual subsidy called for in a three-year contract signed this year.

"The only major complaint I’ve heard is that people want more of it,” Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the service, told The Times.

Mr. Pinsky also told The Times the city was searching for a way to add capacity but that, “in an era of limited resources,” it would be difficult to find more money.

It may not be too urgent of a problem, however. Ridership is expected to drop drastically in the winter months. The fare will remain $4 but starting November 1st, ferries will pick up passengers in hour intervals instead of every half-hour and no more stops at Governor's Island. Peak hour intervals, — between 7 am and 9:30 am and between 4:30 pm and 7 pm on weekdays — will remain at 20 minutes between vessels.