The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to examine the possibility of a private entity installing and maintaining free, wireless Internet service at terminals and aboard boats in the Staten Island Ferry fleet. The RFEI asks technology providers to provide the City with information on the current state of technology to help determine how a seamless WiFi service would work throughout the ferry operation—and without impacting it. If determined to be feasible and eventually adopted through a separate bidding process, the program could build upon the City’s efforts to make wireless Internet service publicly and easily accessible to New Yorkers. The Staten Island Ferry served 22 million passengers last year. Responses to the RFEI, which is available at nyc.gov/dot, are due by Oct. 8.
“WiFi is a part of everyday life for millions of New Yorkers and this search will help us learn if the time and the technology is now right for our Staten Island Ferry system and its 65,000 daily passengers,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.”
“This long awaited amenity will allow commuters to stay connected,” said 49th District Councilwoman Debi Rose. “While some ferry riders treasure the quiet time as they travel, others face a frustrating 25-minute disconnect from work and home. With this upgrade, those traveling will be able to stay connected allowing them to send out important emails and tourists will be able to upload pictures seamlessly to their social media pages about their travels. A win-win for everybody.”
Installing WiFi aboard ferries as they make the 25-minute, 5.2-mile trip could allow workers, students and visitors to send messages, catch up on news and social media, access work remotely and to browse the Internet. DOT has researched ways to bring free WiFi service with the intent of providing free, seamless service among boats and terminals and is currently trialing WiFi at Whitehall Ferry Terminal, with a similar trial planned at St. George Ferry Terminal. The expansion of WiFi to the Ferry system could also be an additional driver of economic development, aligned with the City’s efforts to support the tech sector and position New York as a global tech hub.
The RFEI requests descriptions of system designs, map of equipment locations, cost estimates, security protection measures and methodology to be used to measure demand. It also asks how public/private partnerships could be coordinated into the system, and for potential hurdles and staffing requirements.
For a copy of the RFEI, please visit the DOT website at nyc.gov/dot. The RFEI is not a formal offering for the award of a contract or for participation in any future solicitation.