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NYC Ferry’s inaugural express service from Manhattan to Brooklyn launches in rough seas

NYC Ferry’s first foray into express service between Manhattan and Brooklyn launched Wednesday amid choppy waters and a strong headwind.

Mayor Adams boarded a Manhattan-bound ferry at the Bay Ridge pier around 8 a.m., joining other politicians and city officials to start a pilot program aimed at bringing commuters from South Brooklyn to the Lower Manhattan in just 21 minutes.

Rough seas on Wednesday and strong winds delayed the journey to half an hour, but the ferry was still 15 minutes faster than the average subway ride.

Adams called the maiden voyage a success.

“I remember being borough president hearing over and over again from Bay Ridge residents: ‘Why can’t we take a ferry? Why can’t we get a ferry?’” the mayor told journalists invited on the trip. “So this has been on our dream board. Now it’s not a dream. Is a reality”.

Mayor Eric Adams rides the first express NYC Ferry service from Bay Ridge to Manhattan on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

Ferry service from Bay Ridge to Manhattan was one of the first routes when then-Mayor Bill de Blasio launched NYC Ferry in 2017.

But the line—its non-express service stops at Sunset Park, Governor’s Island and Red Hook before reaching Wall Street—has historically had some of the longest travel times in the system.

The base fare is $4. Seniors, people with disabilities and participants in the city’s Fair Fares program pay $1.35.

The one-way fare increased in 2022 amid the release of a scathing audit by the city controller that accused the de Blasio administration of hiding more than $200 million in costs.

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The fee increase responds to fiscal concerns in the audit, Economic Development Corporation President Andrew Kimball said.

“We feel like we’re headed in the right direction,” Kimball said. “We are making progress. And we will continue looking for improvements throughout the year”.

While the EDC has described the express service as a “pilot program” rather than a permanent addition to the schedule, an agency spokesperson told the Daily News that the program has no expiration date.

Kimball’s office has been working to introduce the boats to passengers as an alternative to buses and the subway. An EDC survey of ferry passengers last year found that more peak-hour passengers were using the system to get to work than at any time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Regina Ryan, a Bay Ridge resident aboard the ride Wednesday, called the new service “a game changer” for her trip.

Ryan, who works in midtown Manhattan for a government relations firm, said that while the walk from the Wall St. ramp meant his door-to-door journey wasn’t much faster, it was more enjoyable.

“Instead of sitting on the bus or subway for an extra 20 minutes, I can walk for 20 minutes around Manhattan,” he told the mayor. “I love it.”

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