NEW YORK - After just 53 days on the water, NYC Ferry on Thursday carried its 500,000th rider.

The service launched on May 1 and wasn't projected to reach the 500,000 mark for at least 80 days.

The East River line is by far the most popular, with more than 340,000 riders.

Nintey-six thousand have taken the Rockaway line.

And 45,000 have ridden the South Brooklyn route since it launched on June 1.

The ferry says ridership on all three lines has exceeded expectations.

To meet the growing demand, three of the ferry's 20 boats will be outfitted with more powerful engines to increase capacity to 250 passengers.

A fourth route running between Astoria and Manhattan is set to start in August.