Progressive fare structure instituted for New York’s beleaguered ferry system | State
(The Center Square) – A week after a scathing audit revealed more than $224 million undeclared costs related to The New York Ferry SystemMayor Eric Adams unveiled the first phase of a revamped fee schedule for the beleaguered program.
In an announcement Thursday at the ferry pier in Astoria, Queens, Adams said the city’s ferry system would institute a progressive fare structure with lower payments for some local passengers and higher fares for passengers casuals or tourists.
The fare is $2.75 one way, the same price as the city subway. However, an audit released by City Comptroller Brad Lander found that the city economic development agency did not report $224.4 million in costs associated with the program over a six-year period. This meant that the city’s actual subsidy per ride in fiscal year 2021 was $12.88, $4.29 more than previously estimated.
Starting in September, seniors, people with disabilities and low-income people will be able to travel one way for $1.35. It will impact about 1 million New Yorkers, Adams said. Non-residents will be charged $4 per ride.
Adams said the intent behind the new fee structure is to promote a “fair” solution.
“Equality is not fair,” said the mayor. “It’s about being fair, and that’s what we do. And be accessible and affordable for all New Yorkers.
The city is also offering two free rides for City Housing Authority households who live within a mile of a ferry landing in hopes of increasing ridership. A $1 bike surcharge for ferry passengers is also disappearing.
The mayor further defended the system, which includes drop-offs in all five boroughs, as an important part of the city’s public transit system, especially for neighborhoods that are not close to subway stations. He said that although there is a goal of reducing the subsidy, that is not the only goal of the ferries.
“New Yorkers who live here aren’t conveniently located for subways,” Adams said. “It’s a serious commute on the distance they have to travel to get to the subway system. The New Yorkers who live here have the capabilities to do the work all over our city, but the transportation needs aren’t there. But you can walk to the ferry.
The ferry system’s website states that more than 500,000 people live within walking distance of the system’s seven routes; an eighth should be launched this year.
Lander’s 50-page report says the $224.4 million in undisclosed funds covered a range of capital and operating expenses. Chief among them was $173.8 million in miscellaneous capital expenditures through the end of last year.
In an analysis of The Center Square, the city government ferry system says it has served 24 million passengers since its launch. Cost overruns amounted to $32.5 million in 2021$52.6 million in 2020 and $52.9 million in 2019.
In a series of tweets Thursday, Lander praised the city’s response, saying it made sense to charge some passengers more and lower them for low-income residents. He also liked that the New York City Economic Development Corp. publishes a new competitive request for proposals for a ferry operator. horn blower manages the system for the city.
Lander continued his call for greater transparency in financial reporting on ferry operations.
“Full transparency means both reporting calculations with operating costs alone as well as operating costs, capital and debt included,” Lander tweeted.