Oct. 1, 2019. By Shane O’Brien
Riders of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s heavily subsidized NYC Ferry system are predominately white and wealthy New Yorkers, according to a report released by the city on Tuesday.
The study, conducted by the Economic Development Corporation which runs the ferry along with private company Hornblower, was carried out over a two-week period in May and June and included over 5,400 ferry riders.
The EDC determined that 64 percent of ferry users were white, while a rider’s median income was between $75,000 and $99,000. The study also found that 86 percent of ferry riders identified as New Yorkers.
In contrast, a report from the office of Comptroller Scott Stringer in November 2017 found that the average income of bus riders in New York City was a meager $28,455.
Furthermore, 75 percent of bus users were people of color, while 55 percent of bus users were foreign born, according to the Comptroller’s report.
The Comptroller’s Office also found that the median income of subway riders was around $40,000 in a report at the same time. The report also found that roughly two-thirds of straphangers were people of color.
Stringer slammed the ferry system in light of the recent findings and said that more needed to be done to make it a fairer mode of transport. The Comptroller has been an outspoken critic of the ferry system in the past.
“If the City is serious about building out a robust ferry system that can succeed, then it must be run transparently and efficiently and serve a broad range of New Yorkers,” Stringer said. “These survey results show that EDC must do more to ensure the ferry system reaches those who need it most.”
The Mayor’s ferry system received criticism earlier this year after a report from the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) found that the city spends $10.73 per ferry rider to keep NYC Ferry afloat.
In comparison, the city only pays roughly $1.05 per subway rider.
The high subsidy for NYC Ferry is due to high operating costs and low revenue, according to the CBC.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also critical of the ferry system following the release of Tuesday’s report.
He said that while the ferries have helped some underserved neighborhoods in the city, there were still questions about the high levels of subsidy. Johnson said that the ferries didn’t serve people with lower incomes and said that the city needed to focus on speeding up buses and trains.
Johnson again called for control of New York’s public transport to be handed back to the city.
“Ferries can be part of a holistic transit system, but right now we don’t even have a holistic system. This is a perfect example of why we need municipal control of the subways and buses combined with a master plan for our streets – both of which I’m fighting for to help New Yorkers get around.”
NYC Ferry was established in May 2017 by de Blasio and has been heavily criticized for high costs.