Can The East River Ferry Actually Stay In Business?


The beloved East River Ferry — high seas local commute boat, purveyor of L Magazine staffers to Summerscreen, saving grace from the hellacious F-to-L train transfer — may not really be financially viable, reports the New York Times.

No no, it’s been suckling on the teat of government money all this time in hopes of eventually becoming solvent on its own, and apparently the jury’s still out.

In spite of being more pleasant than the subway in every possible way, many would-be daily passengers are still deterred by its relatively expensive $4 fare, and the ferry is still relying heavily on the three-year $9 million subsidy from the city that allowed it to launch in the first place.

A BillBey Ferry Company executive explained that at this juncture, the subsidy is still necessary and has “enabled frequency of schedule and a price point that makes the service very accessible.”

While another executive acknowledged that it’s difficult to compete against train fare that’s nearly half the price, ridership has been growing, with 1.2 million passengers coming on board during its first year of operations, and two more years to go before any final decisions are made.

If you haven’t already, we’d recommend that you throw a little business their way. Nothing makes you hate your life less during a commute than spending it on the water.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.


  1. I love the East River ferry. Best way to get around on glorious days like today. Not only that, it encourages Brooklynites to visit Manhattan, and v.v. and should also stimulate tourism. It would be great if the ferry partnered up with packages for say, Smorgasburg in DUMBO and Williamsburg, or the like.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here