The East River Ferry service, which only launched last summer, has become a popular leisure ride and alternative for commuters.
Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Friday that larger ferries will be cruising the river on the weekends during the summer because of overcrowding.
The ferries will be an upgrade from the current 149-passenger space to ferries servicing 399 passengers. Three larger ferries will run every 45 minutes from 9:35 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until Sept. 3.
The East River Ferry services all the boroughs in New York except for the Bronx, the only borough that does not have access to a ferry service. It makes one stop in Queens at Hunters Point South in Long Island City.
The larger ferries will not cost the city anything extra because they are not new vessels, but ones that are used during the week on the Hudson River line, according to Jen Friedberg of the New York City Economic Development Corp. Those ferries would otherwise be out of service on the weekends.
A new landing has also opened at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, made to accommodate the larger vessels. This should also allow for passengers to board and exit the ferries more efficiently.
Within its first six months of service, the East River Ferry surpassed its annticipated ridership by 40,000, well before its upcoming one-year anniversary in June. But the Wall Street Journal reported in February that the ferry’s ridership decreased by 50 percent as the winter months neared.
Maureen Staeleton of Manhattan rides the ferry every weekend. Although she said she never saw it get crowded, she had a different complaint.
“I wish it would go upriver,” Staeleton said. “It would be more convenient for me if they offered more places [to stop] on the ferry.”
Alison Senay of Brooklyn has been working on the ferry four days a week for about a month, including Saturdays.
“For the weekends I can see it getting much busier,” Senay said. But she does not know how crowded it will be in the summer.