July 14, 2022
Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Economic and Workforce Development: Good morning, everyone. My name is Maria Torres-Springer. I'm the deputy mayor for economic and workforce development. I'd like to welcome all of you to today's exciting announcement. I, in particular, want to give a shout out and welcome our young people who are here with us today. Give yourselves a round of applause.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: So thank you again for joining us this morning. The New York City Ferry System has really come a long way since it launched over five years ago. We are really proud of the team for building the system across all five boroughs and across 25 landings, faster really than anyone thought was possible. I'd like to thank them for offering safe, dependable, affordable, and accessible transit to millions of New Yorkers, including waterfront communities long underserved by mass transit.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Now, a few months ago at the beginning of Mayor Eric Adams' administration, he shared with us his vision for how the ferry system could work even better for New Yorkers and charged my team with developing a clear action plan. Now, that team took their collective experiences and lessons learned from the last few years to develop the plan that you will hear more about today. So many thanks to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, that entire team, for all of the work that they've put into this plan and the work that they will continue to put into it to make sure that the mayor's vision becomes a reality.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Today, we are writing the next chapter for NYC Ferry as we continue to evolve the system and make sure that it is as equitable, accessible, and financially sustainable as possible. So with that, I'm thrilled to introduce to all of you Mayor Eric Adams, who will share more about the NYC Ferry Forward Plan. Thank you.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, Deputy Mayor. It may be lost on a lot of people who are attending this and don't have the historical connection, but today I'm wearing my Obama suit. Really excited. I was here on 4th of July, and I was talking to some of the residents and tenants as we moved around and noticed how significant this ferry is. This is a transportation desert, and although we have a waterway here, we did not have real access to moving about. We had to figure that out. These residents deserved a way to get to work, play recreation, and really just be inviting to other parts of the city.
Mayor Adams: This ferry is a way to do so. We're specifically targeting ways to encourage people to use the system more. So Deputy Mayor Torres is right. New York City Ferry Forward is the plan. I want to thank my good friend, Andrew Kimball, who put together the energy with his team to look at what we needed to do right and continue to build on that. And just being joined with our amazing borough president, Donovan Richards, who will continue to move this borough, Queens, my partial home borough, in the right direction.
Mayor Adams: So where would we be without our water? New York is what it is because of the East River, the Hudson River, all the waterways. It is what makes this city special, access to the city through our waterways. More and more New Yorkers are using New York City Ferry, but too many are not aware of the great benefits from it. They think it's out of reach and they think that it's not something that they can utilize.
Mayor Adams: So when we utilize the ferry, it helps us to revitalize our waterfront communities large and small. For those who say, it's just for the affluent New Yorkers, it's just wrong. It is for every New Yorker and the more we introduce New Yorkers to utilizing it, they're going to see how possible it is to move about this city.
Mayor Adams: Our goal has always been to solve the big problems with a single solution and for championing solutions that will use the resources that we have already to address the major concerns. So the ferry system, taking cars off the road, going to those areas where we are dealing with the inaccessibility of buses and other transportation deserts.
Mayor Adams: One ferry is going to deal with a multiple of solutions. So I'm proud to support our ferry system. I believe in it. I see other countries really looking at their waterways. I was supporting as borough president, and I continue to do so now. Now that I'm mayor, I said, "Let's look at what's working in the system. Let's dismantle what's not working and let's build on it." So welcome aboard to this new concept of New York City Ferry Forward the Adams Administration vision on how to utilize our waterway.
Mayor Adams: At the heart of this program is making sure that the system is equitable. Equal is not equitable. It's about being equitable and that's what we're doing and being accessible and affordable for all New Yorkers. Right here at New York City Ferry's Astoria Landing, you see just proud people who are rich in energy, that are proud to be able to have a ferry system right here at the foot of their waterway. This is right beside NYCHA Astoria Housing houses, and it's about our overall plan of how we invest in NYCHA and not disinvest in NYCHA.
Mayor Adams: The New Yorkers who live here aren't conveniently located to the subways. It's a serious commute on how far they have to get to the subway system. The New Yorkers who live here have the abilities to carry out the jobs throughout our city, but the transportation needs are not there. But you could walk to the ferry. It's right here, right here on the pier of this great facility. The East River, 90th Street. They could go to Midtown, to other parts of Manhattan and out to other parts of the city.
Mayor Adams: Starting on September 12th, if you are a lower-income New Yorker in the MTA Fair Fares program, or a senior, or have a disability under our New York City Ferry Discount Program, you can ride the ferry for just $1.35. That's a real win. You can apply also to be part of the New York City Ferry Discount Program online or by mail and then buy tickets on the New York City Ferry app or in person at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. The benefit could reach up to a million New Yorkers, a million New Yorkers.
Mayor Adams: We're also providing two free rides to all NYCHA households within a mile of a ferry's landings. Our goal is we believe if you try it like Mikey, you'll like it. You all just aged yourself. So the goal is to try it. When you try it and see the open air, when you try it to see the convenience, we know you're going to like it. We're sending you mailers out today. We'd like you to give the system a try. From September 12th onwards, we are eliminating the dollar bike fee because we want people to get off their bikes, ride to their destination, their final destination. Getting around New York City shouldn't feel like you're running a 5K marathon. It should feel as though you are getting the support that you need.
Mayor Adams: So wherever you live in the five boroughs, we want to give you choices. For frequent flyers or families, you can still buy a 10 pack for $27.50. That's the same as a subway ride. So each trip will equal the same thing as a subway ride. To offset our lower cost fares and help fund the system, we're raising the prices for occasional riders. So those who come from outside the city who are tourists, we're raising that amount to $4 per ride, and that will offset the cost of those who are everyday New Yorkers that need to use the system.
Mayor Adams: We're also launching a new direct-to-beach service to the Rockaways called the Rockaway Rocket, for which you can pre-book seats. This will also help offset the low cost that we're giving to other New Yorkers who need it as necessity. We're going to reduce the crowding on the ferries, take cars off the road and have people take a nice smooth ride to the beach out in the Rockaways to help our economy out there and really stop the overcrowding on our A line and subway system.
Mayor Adams: We're exploring public-private partnerships to help generate additional revenues and finding creative uses for underutilized vessels, thinking outside the box. In fact, we're going to destroy the box and have a new approach to dealing with our ferry system. So I want to thank the team at New York City EDC, just some amazing forward thinkers, on how we get this right and developing this plan.
Mayor Adams: Again, Andrew, thank you so much for what you continue to do for our city. I must also thank Hornblower, the operator of New York City's Ferry, for helping launch the system and their commitment to implementing these steps. There's a reason that visitors in New York like the ferry. You can see our skyline. You can enjoy the water. You can see the beauty of the city. I rode around during 4th of July.
Mayor Adams: I'm just amazed at the development that is taking place on our waterfront, but we want to continue to allow everyday New Yorkers to enjoy the city that they helped build and made possible. So hurray for our team. Great job, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. We just have a host of smart, innovative thinkers as we move forward. Thank you very much.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Yes, Mayor. Thank you, mayor, as always for your vision, your leadership, and of course for today, the very dapper Obama suit. At this point, I would like to welcome the president of the Economic Development Corporation, Andrew Kimball. So I'd say even before Andrew's first day, he was already thinking about ways that we can ensure that NYC Ferry was more equitable, more efficient and more forward-looking. That is really the work that he has done from day one. So with great thanks to him, I would like to welcome him to the podium.
Andrew Kimball, President and CEO, NYC Economic Development Corporation: Thank you very much, deputy mayor and mayor. I can't imagine two better leaders to come to work for every day. It really is a pleasure. NYC Ferry is a safe, affordable, and accessible transit system serving millions of New Yorkers across all five boroughs. Since I joined EDC in March, I cannot tell you how many New Yorkers come up to me almost every day to tell me how much they love the ferry, how the ferry has changed their commute times, and how it's improved their overall quality of life.
Kimball: The first time I met Councilmember Farías, she told me about her mother who commutes from the Soundview stop, cutting out significant time on her commute. That's not just good public policy. That's good economic development policy.
Kimball: We built the landing here to benefit the tenants of the Astoria Houses, as the mayor said. Thank you to the association's former president for being here today and always being an advocate for our system. Today, New York City has in just five years built a ferry system that opened 25 landings and a system spanning 70 nautical miles, built a fleet of 38 vessels, and now offers six routes that touch every borough across the city.
Kimball: The system's served over 24 million riders to date, and more than half a million riders in just the last three weeks. We blew past our original projection of 4.6 million riders in the first year. We're on track in 2022 for a record year of ridership. In the years leading up to the pandemic, we saw almost a 15% ridership increase every single year. Now, we run the largest passenger-only fleet in the nation, more than twice as large as any other ferry system.
Kimball: NYC Ferry has become a very important tool in EDC's economic development tool kit. Our fleet of vessels, you see right behind me, were built at lower cost than any other publicly procured ferry fleet in the country over the last 15 years. That's astonishing and a true testament to the public/private partnership we have with our operator.
Kimball: NYC Ferry's unit costs are also incredibly competitive. If you look at our per hour operations costs, we're on par with or far better than any other ferry service in the United States. NYC Ferry has further proven to be amongst New York City's most resilient transit networks. It offered critical transport for our frontline workers during the pandemic and as people began to return to work. It had the fastest return to ridership recovery after the pandemic than any other form of public transit.
Kimball: Now we're on target to meet or exceed our pre-pandemic ridership numbers of more than six million riders a year. One reason, it's affordable. Second, it's convenient. NYC Ferry was created to serve neighborhoods that weren't included in the city's original transit plan, as the mayor mentioned, and have long travel times to subway or bus.
Kimball: NYC Ferry also contributes to our city climate goals, moving people out of cars and onto ferries to reduce our carbon footprint. Activating our waterways and creating the nation's largest ferry system also has proven valuable in times of crisis. For instance, when the subways were suspended as a result of the subway attack in Sunset Park, our city's Office of Emergency Management called on NYC Ferry as an alternative transit option to get commuters home safely. For some that day, that was the only accessible option.
Kimball: Our increased ridership is also due to our NYC Ferry team here today who stood up this expansive and complex system quickly and then made it through the challenges of the pandemic. I just want to pause for a second to applaud that team.
Kimball: The system employs about 468 people, and we couldn't be more thrilled to have students from the New York Harbor School here who are learning about the maritime industry and are helping it grow and who someday will be running these boats behind us. The mayor says to us regularly in city government that we must constantly be looking for ways to provide more efficient, equitable and improved services for New Yorkers. That's why we're implementing NYC Ferry Forward today. We're turning a new page on what it means to connect New Yorkers to schools, jobs, small businesses in our waterfront communities.
Kimball: Thanks to the mayor's vision, we'll make NYC Ferry more equitable, accessible, and fiscally sustainable. NYC Ferry Forward was informed by ridership service surveys, careful ridership analysis, and the past five years of experience in learning what works and what does not. In addition to consulting our riders, we've also benefited from input from transit advocates and the Citizens Budget Commission.
Kimball: Here are some of the details of the plan. First, we'll decrease access inequities. The mayor said, "Make the ferry even more affordable for New Yorkers who could use it most," meaning that starting on September 12th, we'll offer a fare of $1.35 for our seniors, people with disabilities and for a fare of a $1.35 for our seniors, people with disabilities and New Yorkers who participate in the city's Fair Fares program. This is something we've never done before and stands to benefit one million New Yorkers, a remarkable number. To make sure all our neighbors know about NYC Ferry and what it is and how they can use it, we'll offer free trip vouchers for every NYCHA resident living within a mile of our landings, reaching 60,000 New Yorkers.
Kimball: This expanded outreach to NYCHA residents will start this summer. As the mayor mentioned, NYC Ferry app already accommodates Google and Apple Pay, and we're adding new payment methods, including Cash App, alternatives for un-and underbanked New Yorkers. Next, we'll focus on generating additional revenue and ridership by establishing a dynamic and progressive fare structure to reduce costs to the city. This means keeping our costs low for frequent riders and commuters, while increasing fairs for the occasional riders. Beginning on September 12th, we'll bump a single ride from $2.75 to $4.
Kimball: The same cost as a single ride on Citi Bike. The $4 fare decision was informed by ridership surveys, ridership demand modeling, and past experience with the East River ferry service, NYC Ferry's predecessor service. We'll also maintain the $2.75 price for frequent riders, offering a 10 trip packs for $27.50, which ensures our regular commuters who make the ferry even just a few times a month, can still pay the low cost of $2.75. For all NYC Ferry riders, we'll eliminate the $1 bike fee to help encourage multimodal connections. Starting Saturday, July 23rd, as the mayor mentioned, we're introducing the Rockaway Rocket. This is a premium reservation-based, pilot program that will offer riders the ability to reserve their trip in advance for direct service from Pier 11 to the Rockaways. The Rockaway rocket will operate on summer weekends and holidays until the end of the summer schedule on September 11th and cost $8 in each direction.
Kimball: These changes, though, can only be successful if our loyal riders continue to use NYC Ferries. In addition to the broad outreach I just mentioned, and to further build trust, we've made the important decision to increase our reporting of financial and ridership data. We know it's important for New Yorkers to understand exactly how much it takes to run a complex transit system, and in particular, the New York City ferry system. Effective today, you'll be able to visit NYC open data and find all historical ridership information. In the coming days, you can go to EDCs website and find our historical financial information. These exciting changes to our system, we believe will attract new riders, reduce our subsidy and make our system more financially sustainable.
Kimball: Looking out further, we plan to seek new partnerships and sponsorship opportunities to help generate more revenue for NYC Ferry. Finally, we'll initiate a competitive open, transparent bidding process for new ferry operations contracts, starting this summer. This new contract will further allow us to take the last five years of learning and ensure a clear, transparent and effective contract that allows NYC Ferry to remain a permanent fixture in the New York City landscape.
Kimball: These are a lot of positive changes for New Yorkers who love their fairies and those who have yet to experience it, and we'll continue to carefully monitor the outcomes and improve where we can in the months and years ahead. We're going to get it done because we work for the man who gets stuff done. Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you, Andrew. Again, as you can see, really Andrew and his team turned over every stone to find ways to, one, build off of the strength of the system, but also make the types of changes that are necessary so that the ferry system is as equitable and sustainable as possible. At the core of NYC Ferry has always been transit equity and making sure that we are reaching communities across the five boroughs that have historically been underserved by transit. So it is my great pleasure to introduce our next speaker, Astoria Houses Tenants Association President Claudia Coger and also a legend in this area. Claudia, please. Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you so much, Ms. Coger. I'd like to invite… If you would you like to say a couple of words? Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you so much. Very well said. I'd like to call on Bishop Mitchell Taylor, but before that also want to acknowledge representatives from Carolyn Maloney's office who are here with us today. So thank you for being here. A lot of the ferry, of course, the New York City Ferry System is built on transit equity, as I mentioned before, but it's also about economic development and there's really no one who can speak better to the ties between equity and economic development as our next speaker, Bishop Mitchell Taylor.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you, Bishop. Now I'd like to introduce the amazing borough president of this amazing borough, Donovan Richards.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank You. Mr. Borough President. Now I'd like to invite Council Member Amanda Farías, who is also the chair of the Economic Development Committee.
Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Thank you. Thank you, Council Member. And finally, a number of our speakers have talked about the need to reconnect New Yorkers to our waterways and to really reimagine the water's edge. And so someone who knows a lot about this is Courtney Worrall, the president of the Waterfront Alliance. Welcome, Courtney.
Question: Good morning, Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams: Morning.
Question: I wanted to ask two things, do you think there's any hope of fare integration between the ferry and the MTA bus and subway? And can you talk a little bit more about the data behind the Rockaway Rocket? Because it seems to think that it's going to alleviate A train crowds, when so much of the A train goes through Brooklyn. It doesn't seem to provide an alternative to that, but it seems like it's sort of an elite boat ride for Manhattan to take some pressure off the other boats.
Mayor Adams: Well Andrew will go into the integration, but during the summer months, there is a heavy flow of traffic on the A train during the summer months. And so the goal is to always find out how we can alleviate that. And so if we have those who want to pay a higher fare to do so, so we can supplement the others, that's a real win for me. Andrew, you want to talk about the integration?
Kimball: Sure. Yeah look, transit integration is always the goal and that would be ideal. It is complex. It requires coordination with the MTA, it requires administrative costs. It's definitely something we're looking at. And as I said at the end, this is not the end. This is a major step forward. We're going to continue to look at various different locations in terms of stops. We're going to continue to look at our pricing and monitor the impact. We're going to continue to talk to the MTA about things like fare integration, but that's not happening today.
Question: Yeah, I've got two. One for the mayor and one probably for Andrew afterwards. Mayor, you mentioned Fair Fares is one of the big ones that can get this discount. The Fair Fares program is tagged to the federal poverty line, which is very low. Like it uses the same metric for Mississippi as it does for Manhattan and as many people who make minimum wage who don't apply for that can't get Fair Fares. So are you interested in raising that at all? I know you baselined that in this year's budget, but are you interested in raising the cap of who can get Fair Fares?
Mayor Adams: Yes. That's something we're looking into. We're looking into… I spoke with Jacques over at the Budget Office and that's something we're looking into.
Question: This second one is probably for Andrew. In the comptroller's report from last week, one of the standout items to me was Hornblower delivered the wrong class boat to the city and the city just never asked for the $2.8 million difference back. What happened there? And how will you make sure that doesn't happen again?
Kimball: Sure. I think we're very clear in our response to the comptroller's audit. Let me be very clear on that issue, where you're talking about the $8.4 million expenditure. We received a $5.6 million boat. We paid $5.6 million for that boat. The additional monies were for expenditures fully contemplated under the contract and appropriate.
Question: Yeah, mayor, I wanted to ask, you said that this is not a ferry service for the affluent. And the former mayor said the same thing, but the math doesn't essentially add up if raising the fare to $4 is going to help the economics of the boat if nobody's paying that $4 fare. So effectively, the data must show that what you have is not a majority, a significant number of people currently and willing to pay that top fare. What is the actual proportion who's riding this boat?
Mayor Adams: Okay. You want to know the proportion of what?
Question: What I'm getting at is, isn't it right now that more affluent riders are using the boat, but what you're saying is we'd like to create equity and make it much more available to folks in NYCHA and other parts of the city. But as of today, aren't the folks riding NYC Ferry getting a discount at $2.75 when they could be paying more?
Mayor Adams: And Andrew will go into that of the proportion number. That's why we're giving free rides to NYCHA residents to introduce. That is why we're using the Reduced-Fare MetroCard program. That is why we are encouraging seniors, those with disabilities and others to $1.35. We want to get those who were afraid of using the system, not believing the system is for them. That's what happens. Oftentimes you see these new innovations and we don't go out and inform people of what the possibilities are. And if you would go to the typical NYCHA residents around the ferry system and ask, "Do you know about the ferry? How much it costs?" You'll be surprised how many don't know about it. We have to meet people where they are and take them where they ought to be. Not meet people where we are. That is how this administration is going to operate. And this is a real win that we are going to... Now that we starting to iron out the kinks, a new system, we are going to keep digging deeper into those who are not utilizing this ride. You want to go?
Kimball: Sure. Yeah, thanks. I think we've been very clear on the equity side of the ledger. We're cutting the fare in half for potentially up to a million New Yorkers. That's not just folks who qualify for Fair Fares, but people with disabilities and seniors. That's a major step forward on the equity front. As we've expanded the service in recent years to places like Soundview and Astoria, you see the range of New Yorkers with incomes that more reflect our population using the service. Then your question goes to the increases. For folks like Amanda Farías' mother who commutes to work every day, cutting out time of her commute, increasing productivity, increasing her quality of life. She's a regular user. It should be the same as the bus and the subway. It's going to stay at $2.75.
Kimball: There are many people who use the service as a one-off. They want to get out on the weekend. They want to go for recreation. They want to try it out. They should be paying more, particularly tourists who take advantage of New York. We did an enormous amount of modeling about what the right number is. We came out at $4. Our analysis shows now somewhere between $4-5, you start to lose ridership if you increase it too much. We don't want to launch a new system with the ultimate goal of bringing down a subsidy and at the same time shoot ourselves in the foot.
Question: Maybe this is for Andrew, with that modeling, what do we expect in terms of… Will revenue go up? You talked about reducing the city subsidy. Could you quantify that? What is the subsidy and how much will the city subsidy go down?
Kimball: Yeah, look, I am going to be hesitant to give you an exact number. I think that is often a mistake. Everything we are doing is driving towards bringing that subsidy gap down, and we think it will come down, but we also live in the real world. We are rebidding this contract. We're in a hyper inflationary moment. I don't know what the outcome's going to be, but we need to keep moving in the direction of making it both a more accessible system, but one that's more financially viable for the long term. We're going to analyze where we are at the four dollar one time use in the next six months, in the next 12 months. We may adjust it, but we're going to be fully transparent about those numbers and what the use of the service is. If we do decide that's not the right number, then why.
Mayor Adams: Pivot and shift, pivot and shift. That's what we do.
Question: Thank you. Question for Andrew. Just to follow up on what Bobby said, the comptroller's report found that the city subsidy under the old program under de Blasio was topping $14. I'm just wondering, can you give us an idea? The subsidy under the new structure, is it going to be higher than that, lower than that? Any sort of estimate?
Kimball: Yeah. Look, we can have a long conversation about auditing. We meet every gap standard there is. We meet every Federal Transportation Administration standard there is. We're very proud of that. Some folks, including the comptroller, CBC and others have asked for additional information. What's the depreciation on the boats? What are the expense internally at EDC to help run this? We're going to put all that information out in the light of day. That will be posted on our website in the next couple of days so people can see that?
Question: Just to follow up on the comptroller's report. This is both for the mayor and you. The comptroller's report, as you know, found that the de Blasio administration under-counted the cost of the ferry system by more than $200 million. Is there anything in this new plan, safeguards, to make sure and under count like that doesn't happen again?
Kimball: Yeah. Look, again, every expense that was made under the rules of the last contract and were appropriate. We are going to put out voluminous data as it relates to all of the costs of the system. Well beyond what was required by the Federal Transportation Administration that monitors ferry service, not just in New York, but nationally. Look, we're proud of the steps we have taken. We think we will bring the cost down, that subsidy gap, with some of these moves.
Mayor Adams: But also we have to be very clear on the goal here. The goal here is not only making sure that the subsidies come down. How do you put a price tag on the Councilwoman's mom being able to have the quality of life of commuting and not having gone through the crisis? How do you put a price tag on those who are living in transportation deserts and now can utilize this ferry system to get to their job in 10 minutes? I mean, you can't put a price tag on this. Those of us who live in transit rich areas, we may say to ourselves, okay, so what's so big of a deal? No, this is a transit desert. There are transit deserts in our city that people have been denied access to employment, upward mobility, access to healthcare. They've been denied access.
Mayor Adams: If you don't have access to transportation, it's going to impact your overall quality of life. Some people may look at the dollar amount. We have to get this done. This is an investment in these children's and families and communities that have been historically ignored. We have to supplement if people are living in rich areas, high rich transit areas, or other areas, we have to balance this transportation system. It's not fair right now. If you live in the central of Manhattan, you have access to buses, access to trains, access to ferries, access to everything you need. This community doesn't have that. That is just not fair. That's not equitable. That is what we're talking about. If we just look at the supplement, we're missing, how do we supplement opportunities for people? And we're going to do that. Yes.
Question: During weekends, places like Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, residents can't get on the ferry because it's so crowded, usually with tourists. Is there any plan to increase capacity on the boat so that residents can use the ferry as they want to do it on weekends?
Mayor Adams: Andrew can talk about that, but I want to be extremely clear. George Washington, from tourists and George Washington from everywhere. I want them all. We want people to spend money, and I like my multi-billion dollar tourist industry that we have here. We should look at it. I think that's what Andrew said. How do we look at those boats are underutilized, and let's look at what the routes are. We're going to continue to evolve. This is an administration that's not afraid to evolve. If there are those locations where there's a high number of uses, then we got to pivot and shift. We got to evolve. We're going to continue to evolve. I want my tourists here. I want to be clear. That's a multi-billion dollar industry. I love seeing them here. I give them one piece of advice. Spend money, spend money. Okay. Let's get some more off topics… I'm sorry?
Question: What about increasing capacity?
Mayor Adams: We're going to analyze where we are and we would like to increase wherever it's possible. We're going to analyze where we are and that's what this team is doing to see if we need to extend, expand. We're going to continue to pivot and shift to make sure that we can get as many people as possible utilizing the boats. Okay.
Question: Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Adams: Yes, sir.
Question: 41 of the 51 City Council Members sent you a letter asking you to reconsider cuts to schools that you and they approved last month. How open are you to reconsidering those?
Mayor Adams: I am so glad you said this sentence correctly. We both approve. They read the bill, they saw the budget, they voted on it. Partnership. That's what we did. They got over 90% of the things they asked for. We are always open to figure out how do we sit down and figure out how to run the city better together, but you don't vote on a budget and then renegotiate a budget. That is just not how the system operate. We'll never get anything done.
Mayor Adams: If they have some ideas, we are open to listen to… We have been communicating with the Council Members. We are always looking forward to doing so, but we have adjusted the class sizes. That's getting lost in this narrative. If you are giving people funding for 1,000 students and those students drop down to 600, that's not dysfunctional to keep giving them the dollar amount for 1,000 students? No, we have to adjust. We're about to fall off a financial cliff once the stimulus dollars run out. We're open to sit down with our Council persons, but let's be clear. They read the budget, they voted on the budget. You don't renegotiate after you voted on a budget.
Question: If I could follow up on a separate topic, you have two city agencies kind of in conflict with each other right now. The Law Department told the NYPD to stop doing random marijuana screenings. The NYPD came back and said, basically, "We're going to keep doing it." What's the resolution here?
Mayor Adams: I didn't know there was a conflict between two agencies, but all of those agencies that you mentioned, they fall under one mayor. The mayor resolves the conflicts between agencies. Lawmakers make the laws. I make the policy. Our team are all together, we're going to resolve this as a team. I will hear if there are conflicts. I'm not hearing that. I'm hearing just the opposite. The state passed a law. I don't agree with not carving out police, firefighters, or people who are doctors, those areas where you have to be clear, but they pass the law. The law states that we can still test if there's reasonable cause to believe that they're using marijuana. You can't test during someone's private time, but you can't get high on the job. That has not changed. That has not changed.
Question: I'm sorry. The NYPD is objecting to the dissolution of random screenings. Should those continue?
Mayor Adams: I didn't hear the police commissioner state that. Once I speak with her, I'll find out what the issues are and we'll sit down together and resolve it. We're going to move as one unified city, but we will follow the law, like I said, over and over again.
Mayor Adams: Bernadette.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: How are you?
Question: Good. How are you? I've got another follow up on the education question. Quickly, did any of the Council Members bring up questions throughout budget negotiations, where they disputed these cuts to the budget? Then I also have a follow-up from our education reporter who wants you to elaborate on comments you made Monday night about how you want Albany to fix the fair student funding. Although that's a city formula. What do you mean by that?
Mayor Adams: We get money from education, from the state, from the feds, and from the city allocation. We need more money coming from the state. We're not getting our fair share coming from the state. We're going to have to… The city used that Fair Student Funding based on the allocations of dollars we get from the feds. the allocation of dollars we get from the state, based on the allocation of dollars that we put in the city. We need the state to increase that dollar amount that they're giving us to make sure that, number one, we've been denied from years until the campaign for fiscal equity. We need help from them to increase the dollar amount that they're giving us.
Question: What percentage?
Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?
Question: What percentage or what dollar amount would that be?
Mayor Adams: That's my OMB guy to tell us exactly what that dollar amount should be and the chancellor. They're sitting down now talking about what our specific ask from Albany, because in our mindset, we stated we have a drop in students. With those drop in students, we have to reallocate the funding based on what the fair student funding is.
Question: Thank you. To circle back on Steve's question.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: I understand your administration's going to follow the law, no matter how it shakes out. For your personal opinion for the matter, if you will, do you think it's reasonable to random test police officers for marijuana?
Mayor Adams: No, I'm not going to give my personal opinion because that's in conflict with the law. I'm going to follow the law. The law states what we can do and what we can't do. If we believe that we need to go back to Albany and ask for a carve-out, we're going to do so. Right now the law is telling us how we can carry out this procedure. I will carve out police officers. I would carve out firefighters. I would carve them out. Those areas of a profession that I think you need to determine if any drug use was done based on in action, I think we should carve them out. Right now the law is clear on what we must do, and we're going to always follow the law. Okay. Thank you.