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City seeks operator to keep East River Ferry going through 2019

East River Ferry Map

East River Ferry Map

Jan. 2, 2013 By Bill Parry

The city is aiming to keep the East River Ferry service in operation through 2019—and is seeking bids from companies that can operate it.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation has begun accepting proposals from operators in an attempt to make the East River Ferry a permanent mode of transportation for commuters as well as tourists. “Any company can apply,” said Kyle Sklerov of the EDC, “it’s completely open to the public.”

The city is hoping to find an operator that will run the service for at least five years when the current contract with BillyBey Ferry Company runs out in June of 2014.

BillyBey is not expected to bid on the new contract. The company from Weehawken, NJ, has done a good job to date, with the number of passengers far exceeding expectations.

“Ferry service along the East River continues to be incredibly popular,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a recent statement. Since launching in June of 2011, the East River Ferry has carried over 1.6 million passengers.

The ferries stop at East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens and several Brooklyn neighborhoods. They also run to Governors Island on summer weekends.

The service also proved valuable after Sandy, when the subway service into and out of Manhattan was crippled.

“After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, the East River Ferry was one of the first forms of mass transportation back up-and-running,” stated Christine Quinn, the Council Speaker. “This ferry has not only proved to be a reliable and efficient form of transportation in a time of crisis, but New Yorkers also really love taking it the rest of the year,” she added.

Any company that can run the service without the current $3 million city subsidy will jump to the top of the list.

RFP responses are due March 1st

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