Ferry big news: Larger ships hit river this summer • Brooklyn Paper

Ferry big news: Larger ships hit river this summer

The “Yogi Berra,” part of the new fleet for the East River Ferry, docks at Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO on its first day of service.
Photo by J.J. Despain

They’re going to need some bigger boats.

New York Waterway is calling in an armada of larger ships to transport greater numbers of seafarers across the East River to accommodate swelling crowds on summer weekends.

The city-subsidized service currently has room for 149 commuters at a time, but a new fleet of ships shuttling between Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, and Manhattan on weekends more than doubles capacity to 399 passengers.

The new boats will take advantage of a renovated landing at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 — potentially reducing delays on the open water.

“The larger vessels and other improvements will make sure more New Yorkers and tourists can get wherever they want to go,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

Ferry officials also changed the schedule this summer, extending weekday service beginning at 6:45 am and ending at 8:45 pm. On weekends, three of the yacht-like cruisers will run every 45 minutes from 9:35 am to 9:30 pm with a stopover at Governors Island.

“We are thrilled we are able to provide our customers with this enhanced service,” said Paul Goodman, CEO of Billybey Ferry Company, which operates the East River Ferries. “With the new ferry landing, fleet of larger vessels, and recent addition of on-board concessions from local vendors, we know that this summer will be more successful than the last.”

So far, nearly a quarter of a million people have sailed between Brooklyn and Manhattan since the service launched last June, far above the city’s estimates.

Ferry operators will receive $6.2 million in public funds over the next two years to keep the service afloat.

Waterway officials are pushing the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to allow passengers to pay for ferry trips with MetroCards, creating a single pass for straphangers who want to travel by land and by sea.

But that could be complicated because nautical jaunts cost $4 per ride or $140 for unlimited monthly service, while subway and bus rides go for $2.25 and $104 for unlimited monthly access.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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