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Mayor de Blasio, NYCEDC and Hornblower Announce Citywide Ferry Boat Construction Officially Underway

September 21, 2016

First batch of vessels to hit NYC in early 2017

Vessels include the latest in 21st century maritime technology

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Hornblower, the operator of Citywide Ferry, announced today that construction has officially begun on 19 vessels that will service New York City’s first citywide ferry system with the latest in 21st century maritime technology and best design practices.

Assembly line construction is already underway on seven aluminum-made vessels at two world class shipyards, with work commencing on each boat thereafter at two-week intervals. Approximately 200 full-time builders between both shipyards are working on the project.

Images of vessel construction can be found at here.

“We are moving full steam ahead and bringing modern ferry boats, outfitted with the latest technology and safety features, to our waterways. This new fleet will help us connect commuters and visitors alike to neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“With vessel construction now fully underway, we’re one step closer to bringing fast, affordable ferry service to neighborhoods across the city,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “We can’t wait for New Yorkers to see these modern and efficient boats, which will arrive in New York Harbor starting early next year.”

“Metal Shark and Horizon bring to the table over 50 years of experience in producing large quantities of safe, reliable and environmentally efficient vessels under very tight timelines,” said Cameron Clark, Hornblower’s Senior Vice President for Development and Project Manager for Citywide Ferry. “Come summer 2017, millions of New Yorkers will have a new way to ‘Work, Live, Play’ on our growing and thriving waterfronts, and we are confident in both shipyards’ ability to deliver the next big critical piece of New York City’s transportation network on schedule.”

Both shipyards are currently receiving vessel components and building the frame for each boat, before systematically assembling the rest of the hull and super structure. This construction process reduces manufacturing time, allows for minor modifications throughout the boat build process and furthers on-time project delivery, with the first set of vessels expected to arrive in New York City in early 2017.

Specs and features for Citywide Ferry vessels include:

  • Capacity for 150 passengers along with space for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs.
  • ADA Local Law 68/2005 accessibility and compliance.
  • Boats are 85 feet long, offering passengers more space than more traditional ferries.
  • Ferries are primarily built out of aluminum, which is safe, light weight and increases fuel efficiency. The fleet of 19 vessels will be built with the equivalent of over 77 million cans of aluminum.
  • Use of ultra-efficient engines to reduce emissions.
  • Innovative hull design to limit wake and maximize fuel efficiency.
  • Wi-Fi available throughout the vessel.
  • Heated decks that increase each vessel’s resiliency and durability, especially during the cold, snowy winter months.

The shipyards, Metal Shark in Jeanerette, Louisiana and Horizon in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, were selected because of their strong history of producing high quality vessels quickly and efficiently. Metal Shark is one of the leading suppliers of vessels for members of the armed services, including the U.S Navy, and specializes in the building of patrol boats, fire boats, pilot boats and passenger vessels. Horizon has a track record of on-time performance under tight timeframes, having produced 40 aluminum boats in 20 months. Horizon Shipyard also completed an urgent build of 10 oil recovery barges in 30 days shortly after the Gulf oil spill to assist in the recovery efforts.

Hornblower's Project Management Team has also consistently delivered quality service and successful project launches under very strict deadlines, including a three month turnaround on the Statue Cruises operation launching in New York City in 2008, as well as the launch of Niagara Cruises in which Hornblower built two new 700 passenger catamaran boats, disassembled them and then reassembled them at the bottom of the Niagara Gorge during one of the coldest winters on record.

Citywide Ferry Service will carry an estimated 4.6 million passenger trips per year across six routes, providing new transportation to communities where housing and jobs are growing rapidly. The East River Ferry will also be fully integrated into Citywide Ferry, which will reduce the cost of that service from $4 to the same cost as a subway ride.

19 vessels will be operating at 21 landings throughout New York City, providing an affordable transit option for people in underserved communities and connecting New Yorkers with the city’s hundreds of miles of waterfront. Phase one of Citywide Ferry Service, which includes the use of 12 vessels, is scheduled to launch in summer 2017.

Final assembly of all vessel components is expected to occur at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Construction of the barges has been underway for several months on Staten Island. Later this year, NYCEDC will begin installation of new ferry landings for the 2017 routes.

For more information on Citywide Ferry and to follow the construction process and progress, please visit www.CitywideFerry.NYC.

More Details on Citywide Ferry Service

New Jobs:

  • At least 155 new jobs in the New York Harbor
  • Crew will earn wages above $15 per hour, along with a comprehensive benefits package.
  • Hornblower will participate in the City’s HireNYC program, which matches qualified applicants from neighborhood-based WorkForce1 training centers.


  • Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria routes scheduled to launch in 2017.
  • Rockaway route will connect to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street.
  • Astoria route will connect to Astoria, Roosevelt Island (Cornell Tech), Long Island City, East 34th Street and Wall Street.
  • South Brooklyn route will connect Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 and Pier 6, and Wall Street, with an optional link to Governors Island (launch date TBD).
  • Soundview and Lower East Side routes to launch in 2018.
  • Routes from Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in planning stages for future expansion.
  • Combined routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway.
  • Over half a million New Yorkers live within a half-mile of one of the 21 Citywide Ferry landings, including 15,000 families living in NYCHA developments.

Commuting Times:

  • Rockaway to Wall Street (1 stop): Approximately 1 hour
  • Astoria to E 34th Street (2 stops): Approximately 22 minutes
  • Astoria to Wall Street (3 stops): Approximately 38 minutes
  • Soundview to Wall Street (2 stops): Approximately 43 minutes
  • Bay Ridge to Wall Street (4 stops): Approximately 48 minutes


  • Cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride
  • 4,000 daily East River Ferry customers will see fares reduced from $4 to the cost of a single subway ride
  • Fare will allow for free transfers to any other ferry route within the system, including the East River Ferry.
  • Both paper and smartphone ticketing will be available, with payments accepted via cash, credit, or debit card. Discounts will be available for seniors, children and New Yorkers with disabilities.
  • Passengers will be allowed to bring bicycles on board for a $1 fee.

The Boats:

  • Each boat will be able to carry at least 149 passengers.
  • All boats will be equipped with WiFi.
  • Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, and will comply with the requirements of both the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York City Local Law 68 of 2005.
  • New boats will be equipped with the most modern engine design available to reduce emissions and noise, as well as an efficient hull design that will limit wakes and maximize fuel economy.
  • City contract with Hornblower allows the company to charter vessels if necessary to meet the implementation timeline.

City Support:

  • City is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades, including building 10 new ferry landings. Barge construction is currently underway at a facility on Staten Island.
  • City is providing $30 million in operating support per year, over a period of six years. Based on a projection of 4.6 million annual trips, the per-trip subsidy for Citywide Ferry Service will be $6.60, lower than the nearly $8 per trip subsidy on the Long Island Railroad or the nearly $15 per trip subsidy for express buses. City is providing $10 million for additional startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines.
  • Potential sponsorships would offset operating costs.
  • City negotiated an option to acquire at least 18 state-of-the-art, highly efficient passenger ferry vessels, allowing for greater operational flexibility and providing significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the service (roughly up to $5 million per year).
  • City will receive a portion of fare-box revenue if ridership exceeds 5.6 million passengers.

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