NEW YORK: New York is launching a new ferry service on May 1, offering a quicker and cheaper commute into Manhattan for hundreds of thousands of people traveling from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, a progressive-wing Democrat seeking re-election in November, dedicated the first of 20 new ferries on Monday, calling it “Lunchbox” — a name chosen by elementary school children.
Each boat can carry 150 passengers and will operate 365 days a year from 5:30am to 8:30pm on week days, and from 7:30am to 9:30pm on weekends. The service launch comes one month ahead of schedule.
“It’s going to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers,” the mayor announced Monday. All the new boats will be equipped with WiFi.
One-way trips will cost $2.75 — the same price as a subway fare.
“We want to make things a little calmer, a little less stressful, and a ride on the ferry make things a little nicer and gets you were you need to go a little faster,” de Blasio said.
The US financial capital is investing $30 million a year on the service, so as to better serve one of the best natural harbors in the world.
Apart from a free ferry that links Manhattan to Staten Island, the most isolated of the five New York boroughs, there has been no city-run service since the 1970s.
One of the new routes will link the Rockaways in Queens to Wall Street in 55 minutes, slashing current journey times by at least half an hour.
“All these people today have a two-hour commutes, on good days. It is going to be a game changer,” said Roland Lewis, president of the Waterfront Alliance association which has spent 10 years campaigning for the service.
The service will create 200 jobs and is expected to clock up 4.6 million annual trips, including by tourists who can take advantage of the cheap tickets to see the stunning Manhattan skyline from afar.
“You cant beat that price,” said Jonathan Figueroa, director of operations.