Mayor de Blasio Would Spend $300 Million on Improvements to NYC Ferry Fleet

NYC Ferry, which opened in May 2017, would double in size if Mayor Bill de Blasio's budget proposal moves forward.
May 8, 2018, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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[Updated: This article has been updated to correct an error in the headline.]

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a new budget proposal that would allocate $300 million to double the size of the NYC Ferry system, reports Will Bredderman.

The idea of expanding the NYC Ferry system has already met with criticism for taking focus away from needed improvements at the MTA.  

But the New York City Economic Development Corp., which de Blasio controls, says that each passenger's voyage—though priced at $2.75 to match subway and bus fares—will still require a $6.60 taxpayer subsidy. This is several times larger than the government's cost for each ride on the subway system, which carries between 5 million and 6 million passengers every day. Critics also say the ferries favor waterfront communities that are often more affluent than the average inland enclave. 

While Mayor de Blasio has found this $300 million for a ferry service he obviously sees as part of his legacy, his administration remains resistant to providing additional city support for the state-run MTA.

The council has pushed the mayor to set aside $212 million from the budget to finance reduced-cost MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. The mayor again called this a "good idea," but dismissed it as extra city funding for the MTA, which he finds especially unpalatable after the state budget forced his administration to cough up $418 million toward an "emergency" repair plan.

The proposed $300 million in funding for NYC Ferry would fund the acquisition of "350-passenger vessels, improvements to piers and docks, and a second facility for boat repairs and maintenance," according to Bredderman. The article includes more details about the results of NYC Ferry service in its first full year of operation.

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Published on Monday, May 7, 2018 in Crain's New York Business
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