NYC Ferry cuts overall service over 11% and nearly a third on weekends

Update, 24 January 2018: Corrected percentages that were miscalculated due to a spreadsheet formula error.

NYC Ferry’s winter 2018 timetables went into effect this past Saturday, 20 January. The new schedules show a dramatic reduction in service, particularly on weekends, when scheduled departures have been cut nearly a third. Some highlights:

  • Overall service on the system has been cut by just over 11%, from 1,210 total weekly journeys on the winter 2017 timetables to 1,074 in winter 2018. Compared to the fall 2017 timetables — the first ones with all four of the current routes — overall service has been cut by over 16%, from 1,284 total weekly departures.
  • Those who rely on NYC Ferry on weekends will be most affected: inbound journeys to Wall Street/Pier 11 have been reduced from 74 each Saturday and Sunday in winter 2017 to just 51 in winter 2018, a cut of 31%. Outbound journeys have been cut nearly as much, from 71 to 51, or 28%. Overall, weekend journeys on NYC Ferry have been cut by almost 30%.
  • The bulk of the cuts have been made to the Astoria and South Brooklyn routes, with the East River route unchanged on both weekdays and weekends and the Rockaway route unchanged on weekdays.
  • AST | Astoria: The system’s newest route is experiencing the most severe cuts in the new timetables. Weekday service has been cut by over 12%, while weekend service has been cut nearly in half. Late-night passengers also need to plan to arrive earlier for the last ferry: on weekdays, the last inbound ferry now leaves Astoria a full hour earlier, at 20.55, while on weekends the last inbound ferry leaves an hour and a quarter earlier, at 20.15.
  • ER | East River: The East River route is the one bright spot on the new timetables, with no substantial changes in service. (Note that the East River route includes a partial early-morning outbound journey on weekdays, from Greenpoint to East 34th Street via Hunters Point South. This journey is not included in these figures.)
  • RW | Rockaway: On weekdays, there have been no changes to the Rockaway ferry schedule. However, weekend service has been reduced by 30% and now runs every 90 minutes instead of hourly (with the exception of the last two departures in each direction, which leave the terminals an hour apart, at 20.00 and 21.00).
  • SB | South Brooklyn: Overall service on the South Brooklyn route has been cut by over 17%, from 314 weekly journeys to just 260. Cuts to weekend service on the South Brooklyn route, like those to the Astoria route, were particularly severe, totaling nearly 46%. Last ferries on weekdays and weekends now depart a bit earlier, though not by the one hour or more Astoria route passengers will experience.

What is unclear is the reason for the cuts. Perhaps passengers are fewer, though the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which has financed and overseen much of the system’s development, recently touted higher-than-expected ridership of nearly 3 million in 2017. And weather may be a factor: ice accumulates in waterways and severe weather is almost a certainty in the winter in New York City, both of which may impact service. In the meantime, NYC Ferry states that spring 2018 timetables will take effect in mid-March. It will be interesting to see if warmer weather, and more people venturing out on weekends, will correspond to an increase in service after two rounds of cuts.

Note: NYC Ferry’s winter 2017 timetables were in effect 4 November 2017–19 January 2018.

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