How to Ride the East River Ferry in Brooklyn

Courtesy East River Ferry

It's no secret, folks love the East River Ferry. In fact, in 2016, the ferry service saw the largest ridership in its history. Forget the subway. Explore Brooklyn by sea. See the spectacular Manhattan skyline views, and just have a fun outing. Bring your bike, bring your kids, bring granny. Some people even take a ferry to work. This summer, the East River Ferry will begin citywide service, which will lower the current fares from $4-weekday fares and $6-weekend fares to $2.75.

As part of the transformation of New York City's waterfront into play-space, now you can enjoy frequent ferry service between Manhattan AND four very cool waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens: DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and in Queens, Long Island City.

What's the Story about the East River Ferry Service?

The East River Ferry service was launched in 2011. It was a part of a 3-year pilot program to provide year-round ferry service between East 34th Street and Pier 11 in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, and DUMBO in Brooklyn, and seasonal weekend service to Governor’s Island, according to the Mayor's press office. The success of the ferry service has led to increased stops and service.

Where Does Brooklyn/New York City's East River Ferry Go?

The East River ferry service runs from Manhattan's to Brooklyn and Queens across, what else, the East River. (If you want to visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, or see the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, this isn't the boat for you).

The East River Ferry makes the following stops (note that the route may change seasonally):

  • East 34th Street in Manhattan, at the East River
  • Long Island City (at Queens West)in the borough of Queens
  • Greenpoint (India Street and the East River)in Brooklyn
  • Williamsburg - two stops, one in North Williamsburg (at North 6th Street) and one in South Williamsburg (at Schaefer Landing), in Brooklyn
  • Fulton Landing in Brooklyn, at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1
  • A stop off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn will operate during summer ​weekends
  • Pier 11 in Wall Street in lower Manhattan (located on the water side of the FDR, one block south of Wall Street and east of Front Street in the financial district, south of the South Street Seaport area).

    What Can You See from the East River Ferry?

    As its name suggests, this ferry plies the East River. So it affords passengers gorgeous views of Manhattan, NY Harbor and Lady Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, and more. If you go down to DUMBO you can see the waterfront, glass-enclosed Jane's Carousel (it's spectacular), cool old warehouses, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. In short, you get a view of New York City that you don't get when standing atop a skyscraper, riding the subway, or walking down busy streets, even in brownstone Brooklyn.

    How Much Does It Cost to Use New York's East River Ferry Service?

    • Fares for passengers are $4 for a one-way ticket, $12 for an unlimited all-day pass, and $140 for an unlimited monthly pass, but these rates will change in 2017 when the ferry runs citywide.
    • A maximum of two children aged five and under are allowed to travel free with each accompanying ticketed adult passenger.
    • Ticketing machines are available at all commuter locations along with staffed ticket agents at some stops.
    • The above prices are as of Winter 2017; Check prices for the East River Ferry.

    Ticket Details You Should Know

    • All 1-way tickets are valid for 30 days from the date of purchase.
    • Ten-Trip tickets are valid for 60 days from the date of purchase.
    • Monthly passes are only valid for the calendar month and year that is printed on the front of the ticket.
    • All sales are final.
    • No personal checks accepted.

    When Do Brooklyn and Manhattan's East River Ferries Run?

    • Weekdays, the 149-passenger vessels operate from 6:45 AM until 8:45 PM. in both directions.
    • During morning and evening peak hours, three boats service each landing every twenty minutes.
    • During weekday off-peak hours, two boats run on a thirty-minute schedule.
    • On Saturdays and Sundays, three 399-passenger vessels operate every forty-five minutes from 9:35 AM until 9:30 PM.
    • Governors Island is served on the weekend route during the Island’s operating hours. A tip for NYC natives, if you have an NYC ID, you get to ride the ferry for free.

      Can You Take a Bike on the East River Ferry That Runs from Brooklyn to Manhattan and Back?

      YES. Ferries accommodate bikes on board for an additional dollar.

      Things to Know about Kids, Dogs, Rollerblades, and More

      • No rollerblades, skateboards, or heelies allowed on boats.
      • Only service dogs or small dogs in pet carriers are allowed on board.

      Safety Policies Regarding Children

      • Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
      • Due to the number of children’s life preservers on board each vessel and safety considerations generally, no more than 25 children may be on board a vessel at any one time.

      Can You Keep Riding the Ferry in a Continuous Loop?

      NO. The ferry's operators say, "All passengers are required to disembark no later than the end of a scheduled run, at either the East 34th St. Terminal in midtown Manhattan or the Pier 11/Wall St. Terminal in downtown Manhattan (on summer weekends, the end of the southbound scheduled run is at Governor's Island)."

      Have fun. This is a wonderful way to travel through Brooklyn and to or from Manhattan!

      Edited by Alison Lowenstein