Ferries see 80 percent drop in ridership amid COVID-19 outbreak

The city’s ferry system has witnessed an 80 percent drop in ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Todd Maisel

The New York City ferry system has seen a nearly 80 percent drop in ridership since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, city officials revealed on Monday. 

The NYC Ferry — whose six lines link Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens — clocked nearly 20,000 riders during the month of April, down from more than 97,000 in April of last year, the city announced. 

The four ferry lines that land in Brooklyn saw a slightly larger decrease in ridership, with 81 percent fewer travelers. 

Critics charge that continuing to run ferries during the pandemic wastes taxpayer money, since the heavily-subsidized system charges taxpayers already $10 per ride. But the Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-governmental organization that operates the ferries, claimed that essential workers still use the ferries, and that a reduction service has already cut some of its costs.

“NYC Ferry has been operating on a modified schedule for several weeks as we continue to serve our essential and frontline employees during this challenging time,” spokesman Chris Stapleton said. “By running these modified schedules, NYC Ferry reduced service by 30-percent and is seeing significant savings.”

In addition to the reduction in service, NYC Ferry is only running the smallest and most fuel-efficient crafts along it routes, Singleton said.

The service cuts come as the ferry system was set to expand to Coney Island, where a new ferry line beginning in 2021 would connect residents to Bay Ridge and Manhattan. Stapleton did not say whether the pandemic will affect the expansion plan. 

The ferry isn’t the only transportation service feeling the sting from coronavirus outbreak. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has seen ridership plummet more than 92-percent, where it has remained since the beginning of the outbreak in March.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.