NEW YORK - There are no more long lines for the New York City Ferry, and that suits Dr. Alisa Femia just fine.
She can keep her distance from other commuters as she glides across the East River to work in Manhattan.
What You Need To Know
- The city imposed new service reductions this week, and further cuts are possible
- There were more than 30,000 riders last week, close to double the previous week.
- A new route for St. George will be delayed until next year.
- The city estimates the cuts will save $10 million.
“I feel very lucky," said Femia. "I think that it is, probably, other than walking, probably the best way to commute in this setting.”
After non-essential business shut down because of the coronavirus, ridership on the city-funded ferry service plunged. The week beginning May 4, the ferry carried just under 17,000 people.
Same week last year, ridership was more than 100,000.
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After slashing service earlier this spring the city imposed new cuts this week, leaving 266 trips a week - half the usual number - just as the peak summer season begins.
A new route for the St. George neighborhood in Staten Island will be delayed until next year.
But with the weather finally turning warmer, ridership is ticking up, too.
“Now there are a few more commuters than there have been," said Femia. "There was a point in time where maybe just me or me and two other people were on the ride.”
There were more than 30,000 riders last week, which was close to double the previous week.
“I think the weekend, it was crazy. There was a lot less social distancing going on," a ferry rider told NY1. “I saw the lines and my boyfriend actually took it from the city here and it was packed.“
Some riders say they feel less likely to be exposed to the virus on the ferry as opposed to the subway. Many are thankful the service continued during the pandemic.
“It's getting tougher to park and there’s more traffic, so I just decided to park over here and ride the ferry, which is something that I’ve done quite a bit throughout the pandemic," said a commuter at the Long Island City ferry dock. "I like the ferry. It’s convenient. It takes me to a spot close to my office.”
This convenience comes at a high cost to the city.
Before the pandemic each trip cost taxpayers $10.73.
With these cuts in service because of the coronavirus, the city estimates it’ll save $10 million.
The city is facing a huge budget shortfall because of the health crisis, further cuts are possible but there is no talk of ending the ferry service, one of mayor de Blasio's signature initiatives.
With New York coming out of its lockdown, City Hall says it will make “careful choices” about adding ferry trips.