Yonkers-Manhattan ferry never got the riders needed
The New York Water Taxi service from Yonkers to Manhattan, ending Dec. 31, simply never drew the customers it needed to stay afloat. (Sorry. It’s a pun no one can seem to resist.)
The company announced the end of service on its Web site. I’ll include the text below.
The ferry service was run with millions of dollars in grants and loans and originally was part of an effort to get people back into lower Manhattan following 9/11. Because it used a Lower Manhattan Development Corp grant, it was limited to only serving lower Manhattan, rather than Midtown.
When that money ran out, a 39th Street stop was added. Still, it didn’t draw enough new commuters.
For the few dozen people who used it, commuting could hardly be more pleasant, particularly on nice days. A leisurely boat ride down the Hudson River, versus a hot crowded subway in August? No contest. I can attest to that personally because I rode the ferry once on a balmy summer day, spending much of the time on the top deck, basking in the morning sunshine as we rode alongside Manhattan island with its bustle of millions of people.
But with millions of dollars needed to run it since May 2007, it was expensive. Every form of mass transportation is subsidized, but not like this. I’ll do a quick calculation: It started with a Lower Manhattan Development Corp grant of $2.3 million per year for two years. At its peak, 80 to 90 people used the service, according too David Simpson, spokesman for Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone.
That comes to something like $27,000 per rider for the year.
Simpson says Amicone hasn’t given up on ferry service, and hopes to draw a more effective one when the time is right.
I’ll have more about this in The Journal News and on the lohud.com main site tomorrow. But for now, here’s the announcement New York Water Taxi posted on its Web site:
“The Yonkers to Lower Manhattan ferry service had been funded by a pilot grant intended to explore the viability of ferry service to Lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, the current operating subsidy for the service will end on December 31, 2009, and ridership from Yonkers alone has not reached the point where the service can be operated without a subsidy. Therefore, the Yonkers to Lower Manhattan ferry service will be suspended on January 1, 2010.
“Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone and other elected and appointed officials have supported the service from the beginning and have worked hard to secure additional funding that would allow this service to continue, but in this tough economic climate we were not successful.
“New York Water Taxi is hopeful that in the future, waterborne transportation on the Hudson River will be economically viable.
“New York City is conducting a five-borough waterborne transportation study that includes a site in Riverdale and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also is engaged in a regional transportation study and we believe that with a better understanding of the potential for waterborne transportation on the Hudson and with the appropriate number of docks, commuter service on the Hudson River will return in the future.
“New York Water Taxi and the City of Yonkers greatly appreciate your loyal patronage and look forward to an opportunity to provide safe, convenient waterborne transportation on the Hudson in the future.
“PLEASE NOTE: YONKERS COMMUTER SERVICE WILL RUN 1 HOUR EARLIER THAN SCHEDULE TIME ON CHRISTMAS EVE AND NEW YEARS EVE. WE WILL NOT OPERATE COMMUTER SERVICE ON CHRISTMAS OR NEW YEARS.”