NYC Ferry Service How to Ride

The Staten Island Ferry is just one of many NYC ferry services. (Getty Images)

New York City has a plethora of public transportation options, all of which can get crowded quickly. While a jam-packed subway can already be nightmarish during rush hour or on a hot summer day, in these COVID-19 times, it can be a whole new problem. That’s just one reason any NYC ferry is arguably a great alternative to other forms of public transit. The boats usually have an open-air deck and more seating, which can make social distancing more manageable than on a bus or subway car. Plus, a view of the city skyline on a beautiful day is unbeatable.

The NYC Ferry, which operates across the East River, is open for business. For service from New Jersey, there’s NY Waterways. The oldest service, the Staten Island Ferry, is also running. All of that said, here’s how to make the most out of any NYC ferry service this summer.

Do You Need to Wear a Mask on the Ferry?

A resounding yes! NYC Ferry, operated by Hornblower Cruises, requires all passengers to wear a face-covering while riding, even in open-air spaces. Riders should also stay six feet away from other commuters, including while waiting in line to board. NY Waterways and the Staten Island Ferry expect the same. The Staten Island Ferry is even offering free masks to riders.

What Other Precautions Are Ferries Taking for COVID-19?

All ferries are cleaned every night. According to NYC Ferry, their boats are inspected every hour while in service — frequently touched areas are disinfected more often. Additionally, all ferry services have installed hand sanitizing stations.

Pro travel tip: Because capacity on ferries is limited for social distancing, you may want to arrive extra-early to secure a spot for a specific time slot.

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What Ferry Routes Are Currently Operating?

NYC Ferry Routes

Enjoy river breezes this summer on one of NYC’s ferry services. (NYC Ferry)

NYC Ferry has resumed service on all of its routes: East River, Rockaway, South Brooklyn, Astoria, Soundview, and Governor’s Island. Each route has a different schedule, which can be accessed via the NYC Ferry site or app.

NY Waterways is operating several routes, most notably its midtown service from both Weehawken and Hoboken. More route re-openings will follow.

Staten Island Ferry is also operating.

Are NYC Ferries Operating on a Regular Schedule?

All ferry routes are still offering limited service due to COVID-19, with updates being made during the different NYC phase re-openings. For up-to-date info, refer to each ferry provider’s website for schedule changes — or even better, download their apps for live updates.

How Much Does a Ride on the Ferry Cost?

A one-way ticket for the NYC Ferry costs $2.75, the same amount as a ride on the subway. Passengers can also bring their bike on board for an extra $1 charge. NY Waterways costs considerably more: A trip from Jersey to midtown costs $9. And the Staten Island Ferry is a free service!

How Do You Ride the Ferry?

If you’re new to the ferry, study the route maps for the best stops for your trip. Then, if you are riding NYC Ferry or NY Waterways, download the appropriate app to buy your ticket, so you have it ready to go. Digital, one-way tickets are valid for 90 minutes after their activation. Print tickets expire within 90 days of purchase.

Pro travel tip: As we mentioned earlier, the Staten Island Ferry is free. But note that it only travels between Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal in SI.

Are New Ferry Routes Opening Soon?

Yes, NYC Ferry will be opening the Coney Island and St. George routes in 2021. The St. George route will have stops at St. George in Staten Island, Battery Park City, and West 39th Street, effectively connecting Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and Midtown.

The Coney Island route will stop in Coney Island, Bay Ridge, and Wall Street. The South Brooklyn route will then be modified to commence from Sunset Park instead of Bay Ridge. Additionally, NYC Ferry plans to add several stops to the Soundview route, including one in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, in 2021.

NYC Ferry Landing

(NYC Ferry)

Is It Safe to Ride the Ferry?

Ultimately, taking any form of public transit during the pandemic comes with some risk. If you’re planning on traveling on the ferry this summer,  bring your hand sanitizer and use it before boarding the boat and after disembarking. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your eyes and face during the ride.

Also, sitting outside is better than sitting inside, as studies have shown the virus does not spread as quickly outside. And while new capacity limits will help avoid overcrowding on ferries, it’s a good idea to avoid peak travel times. Safe sailing!

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