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NYC Ferry ridership recovers from pandemic dip

Ridership on the NYC Ferry is exceeding immediate pre-pandemic levels, according to the city’s non-profit Economic Development Corporation.

The EDC, which runs the nautical network along with private cruise company Hornblower, reported an average of 15,836 riders a day across the ferry system’s six routes.

“NYC Ferry’s return to pre-pandemic ridership levels is a testament to the resilience of New Yorkers and the critical role that accessible, reliable, and sustainable transportation plays in our city’s recovery,” Andrew Kimball, EDC President, said in a statement.

The system carried 6.1 million passengers in 2022, an EDC spokeswoman said, accounting for roughly 95% of the system’s 2019 ridership. Ridership numbers have climbed higher in the first two months of 2023.

The uptick comes despite last year’s fare hike for casual ferry riders who don’t purchase a multi-trip pass.

Three ferry routes saw record ridership numbers in 2022, according to the EDC: the South Brooklyn route, connecting Bay Ridge to Lower Manhattan; Soundview, which connects Wall Street to Throgs Neck; and the Astoria route, which makes stops between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens along the East River.

The new ridership numbers were released late Tuesday ahead of NYC Ferry’s inaugural commuter schedule.

Beginning Wednesday morning, ferries on the South Brooklyn route will run alternating fast schedules. Between 6:15 and 10:15 a.m., boats leaving Bay Ridge will make only two other stops — Atlantic Avenue and Wall Street.

The service is an effort to aid Brooklyn commuters. EDC’s 2022 survey of ferry riders found that more peak-time riders were using the system to get to work than any other time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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