Metal Shark's first two aluminum-hulled ferries for Hornblower's “NYC Ferry” system (formerly known as Citywide Ferry) are under way off the Atlantic coast of Florida, making their way northwards towards New York City. They are expected to arrive within a few days, well in advance of the system's planned start date.
“We produced these first two ferries from start to finish in less than nine months, which is a feat that was deemed impossible by many,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “However, we were confident in our team and our ability to make it happen.”
Carl Wegener, the firm's director of commercial sales, said that it was "an honor to build them and send them to New York, where they'll become a valuable part of the city's transit infrastructure for years to come."
The NYC Ferry system is the largest water transportation initiative in New York in decades, and its 19 ferries and six routes will connect Manhattan with Brooklyn, Astoria, the Rockaways and Soundview. Competing Gulf Coast yards Metal Shark and Horizon Shipbuilding both have contracts for building the ferries, a procurement strategy that was intended to minimize risk.
NYC Ferry is expected to shave significant time off of the commute for far-flung neighborhoods. By subway, Rockaway Park is about 90 minutes away from Lower Manhattan. After the ferry begins operations, residents will have a 60-minute point-to-point transit. The fares are low, equal to the $2.75 cost of a subway ride, making the system accessible to low-income residents.
The new ferry system is a key initiative for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is up for reelection in the fall, and his administration has pledged to have it in operation this summer. The City of New York is contributing $55 million towards shoreside landing facilities, plus $30 million per year in operating support.
“The brand new boats are hitting the water. Construction on our docks is in full swing. And we’re hiring the crews that will carry New Yorkers across the city," the mayor said in a recent statement. "This is an exciting time as we prepare to launch a whole new public transit service for our people."