We Love This Cheap NYC Transportation Most People Don’t Know About

by joeheg

Navigating New York City can be challenging, even for seasoned New Yorkers. It’s even more confusing if it’s your first trip to the city. Sharon and I fall somewhere in the middle of those categories. Like most locals (well, former locals), we’ll choose to walk if it’s a reasonable distance. For longer trips, we’ll choose between an Uber, taxi or subway. Each one of those choices has its advantages and drawbacks.

During one of our trips, we headed to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and checked out a New York classic, Peter Luger Steakhouse.

We managed to get there just fine, taking the Subway from our hotel that was located near Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. After lunch, we decided to walk around Brooklyn for a bit.

Sharon Brooklyn Photobomb.jpg

When we wanted to head back, I realized we walked in the furthest direction possible from any convenient Subway station. We’d have to backtrack to get on the train we arrived on. What about Uber? There were cars available but for the short ride, it was really expensive.

That’s when I saw an option on Google Maps that I’ve never encountered before.

Ferry .jpeg

What form of transport was this? It was only a five-minute walk from our location and we’d be able to make the next departure. But of what?

The NYC Ferry

It didn’t take long to figure out we were headed to a boat. When visiting New York, we usually don’t leave Manhattan. Sometimes we don’t even get out of Midtown. So learning about a ferry that travels between Manhattan and Brooklyn was news to us.


The NYC Ferry started service in May 2017. There are currently 6 routes serving ferry piers in Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The ferry is expanding its service to Coney Island in 2022.

a map of a city

Fares for the NYC Ferry are pegged to the MTA subways and buses, which is currently $2.75 for a single-use ticket. Tickets are available for purchase in several ways:

  1. APP – Download the NYC Ferry app to redeem the ticket.
  2. TICKET VENDING MACHINE (TICKET MACHINE) – Ticket Machines are readily available at each of our landings.
  3. WEBSITE – Tickets purchased through the website can only be redeemed through our App, available for download in the App store.

For our first ride, I didn’t buy a ticket in advance. We could see the ferry approaching as we walked to the dock. I started to download the NYC Ferry app but it was still installing as the ferry was boarding. Oops.

The person taking tickets was understanding and told me to buy a ticket and show it to him during the trip, which I did. I paid for the ferry tickets with my Sapphire Reserve and earned 3x points for the $5.50 fare since it’s a travel expense.

We boarded our ferry, Happy Hauler and started our trip to Wall Street.


The ferry felt new, with comfortable seating. There are charging stations on board if your devices are running low and there’s also a concessions booth on board serving snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available).

There’s no doubt when on board that you’re on a boat. The rocking back and forth was very mild but if you’re easily seasick, this might not be the best form of transportation for you.

The combination of being unique and convenient made this a perfect choice for our trip. The NYC Ferry connects areas of the city that were inconvenient to travel between with other forms of transportation. It’s nice to see New York City take advantage of its waterways for public transportation. I wouldn’t go out of my way to take a ferry, but if you see a boat show up on Google Maps as a possible form of transport, it’s a great option to consider.

Cover Photo: Rawpixel Public Domain CCO 1.0

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jimmy May 9, 2019 - 6:49 pm

An unexpected ferry trip is pretty cool.

Michael May 9, 2019 - 11:24 pm

It’s an amazing service in part because NYC is chipping in an extra $10.73 per passenger — they have a policy priority to stabilize ferry prices at the $2.75 price of an MTA ticket, which is a lot less than it turns out to cost to operate these comfy rides. It’s a great deal. See e.g. https://cbcny.org/research/swimming-subsidies (discussed in more detail at https://ny.curbed.com/2019/3/28/18285731/nyc-ferry-swimming-in-subsidies-mayor-de-blasio).

derek June 26, 2022 - 5:58 pm

Thank you for sharing. I did not know this. Seems like there is a Staten Island ferry competitor now and also a way to see the WTC by ferry on the cheap.

E. 34th St to Wall Street via Brooklyn is also a potentially scenic route.


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