Packed to the gills: South Brooklyn ferry route overloaded in first month

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They missed the boat — but the city hasn’t.

Thousands more commuters than expected are piling onto the citywide ferry’s South Brooklyn route — leaving many stranded locals unable to board the packed ferries.

“I’ve watched a few ferries leave without me because they were max capacity when I was going to work,” said Sunset Parker Cynthia Rocca, who works not far from the ferry stop in Manhattan and has been an avid seafarer since the launch. “I love it. It makes going to work an actually pleasurable experience compared to the subway. They just need a few more boats.”

The good news is that the city plans on boosting its fleet with three more boats that can hold nearly double the capacity of the ferries currently in service. The bad news is that there’s no telling how many — if any — of the new boats will be assigned to the South Brooklyn route — which zips from Bay Ridge to Sunset Park, Red Hook (with a weekend detour to Governors Island), Brooklyn Heights, and Dumbo before heading on to Manhattan. And the worst news is that the boats won’t even be ready until next year.

Roughly 83,500 straphangers-turned-seafarers have journeyed on the South Brooklyn ferry route in its first month, the Economic Development Corporation announced on July 3.

The route was initially expected to top out 50,000 commuters in the first month of service, but the surge of passengers has left the route a victim of its own success in need of beefed up boats to accommodate the swell of voyagers.

But it is a good sign because it proves the route is a huge hit among locals, said the president of the Economic Development Corporation.

“Surpassing initial projections by over 33,000 riders shows how excited New Yorkers are for this new transit option,” said James Patchett.

The new vessels, outfitted with bigger engine, will upgrade the capacity for three of the city’s twenty ferries to 250 passengers — up from the current 150 maximum.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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