NYC Ferry launched its Astoria route on Tuesday, with the inaugural trip running from Astoria in Queens to Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.

The Astoria route is expected to carry 1,800 passengers a day, adding to NYC Ferry's 12,000 riders. The service was proposed by the NYC Economic Development Corp. in 2013 as a way to reinvent the city's transit system after two studies that showed the positive economic impact of ferries in New York City, The service was officially backed by the De Blasio Administration in 2015.

The new route connects residents in the Astoria, Roosevelt Island and Long Island City to Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Passengers can get a free transfer to the ferry’s East River, Rockaway and South Brooklyn routes at East 34th Street and at Wall Street/Pier 11.

Boats run every 25 minutes during rush hour and Queens residents can now get to East 34th Street in about 30 minutes, about half the time it usually takes.

“The amazing success of NYC Ferry is a tribute to the can-do attitude of New York City and underlines the tremendous need to connect underserved communities to jobs, schools, health care and parks,” de Blasio said.

The route’s opening follows the launch of the Rockaway and South Brooklyn routes and the integration of the existing East River route into the system. To date, the combined routes have served over 1.5 million riders. Two final routes, the Lower East Side and Soundview, will launch next year.

“Manhattan is the economic heart of our city, and every new transit link to and from Manhattan makes the city stronger,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “Mass transit between many of the neighborhoods on this ferry route has become a crowded, complicated hassle, requiring two- and even three-seat rides on packed buses and subways. This new, one-seat ride to and from Midtown and the Financial District could be a big help to commuters from Roosevelt Island and Western Astoria, and will be a boost to Roosevelt Island’s Cornell Tech campus.”

Due to its unexpected popularity, NYC Ferry will be making three of its 20 boats bigger. These new boats will have larger engines and be able to hold up to 250 passengers, compared with the usual 150.

“Cornell Tech is proud to be a part of the Roosevelt Island community and the campus has committed $2.5 million to support the new NYC Ferry service to the island,” said Meghan French, Senior Director of External Relations at Cornell Tech. “The new ferry will provide another seamless connection for island residents, students, faculty, staff, the companies at The Bridge, and visitors to travel seamlessly between Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, and the growing tech community in western Queens.”

Once the whole NYC Ferry system is fully operational, the routes will cover over 60 miles of waterway at the same cost as a subway ride.

“We are thrilled to launch the final route to complete the 2017 expansion of ferry service, and we encourage all riders to download the NYC Ferry app, hop on board and let us elevate your commute,” said Cameron Clark, Senior Vice President for NYC Ferry, which is operated by Hornblower.

NYC Ferry will ultimately create about 200 jobs, all of which will pay the city's living wage and include benefits.

“Building resiliency and greater connectivity into our transportation network is key to a successful system," said City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “With the inaugural ride from Astoria, residents from this great Queens community will have a faster ride into Manhattan that is fun too!”

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