Politicians announced on Friday that they are looking to make the successful East River Ferry a permanent transportation option.
The city is asking companies to submit proposals on how they would maintain and run the ferry, which stops once in the borough in Long Island City at 54-00 Second St. The new operator would run the system for at least five years starting in June 2014.
An operator who can run the service without the need for public subsidies will rise to the top of the applicant pile. Additionally, applicants can propose expanded service such as increased hours and new locations.
“Ferry service along the East River continues to be incredibly popular, both for commuters and weekend travelers,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We now have the opportunity to build upon this success and sustain this essential part of our transportation vision well into the future.”
The city launched a three-year pilot program in June 2011, with BillyBey Ferry Company contracted through June 2014 as the operator.
Since then more than 1.6 million passengers have used the service, surpassing the initial projection of 1.3 million riders for the entire three-year test period, Bloomberg said. That breaks down to about 90,000 people a month.
Post Hurricane Sandy temporary ferry service was established to reconnect the Rockaways and the South Shore of Staten Island to the city’s transportation network. The East River Ferry started those operations two days after the hurricane, providing relief to areas in Brooklyn and Queens without subway service.
The event has officials looking to ferries as potentially effective options during crises.
“After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, the East River Ferry was one of the first forms of mass transportation back up and running,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said.
The East River Ferry boats were upgraded last summer from a 149-passenger capacity to 399 to relieve for overcrowding, Bloomberg said. Riders whom the Queens Chronicle interviewed in May in LIC said they never saw a busy boat, but could imagine more tourists riding in the summer.
To obtain a copy of the city’s request for proposal visit: nycedc.com/rfp. Responses are due March 1.
Fares for passengers are $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited all-day pass, and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass. Ferries accommodate bikes on board for an additional dollar. Tickets can be purchased at machines, on board, from staffed ticket agents at certain landings or via a free mobile device app.