For once this is a nautical related cliché. Recently a new ferry service began on the East River to reduce people taking subways and buses. NY Waterway, a subsidiary of BillyBey Ferry Co, receives a $9.1 million subsidy from New York City for a three year pilot project. When it started up in June, ridership soared to 10,900 a day. According to news reports, the city is estimating 400,000 riders for the first year. That makes it about 1,095 passengers a day. So the high numbers at the start looked promising.
Except that it was for free until 25 June when the $4 fare kicked in. Then ridership began to tumble and according to the New York Post was down to 2,824 paying customers before the Fourth of July. Note that is above the estimated number of 1095 but still way down from the 10.900 when the service started for free. This prompted a writer for the New York Post to write:
Business sank like the Titanic on the new East River ferry service last week once passengers had to start paying.
Of course the ferry operator is not displeased. Despite the dropping ridership they claim ridership has exceeded expectations. Now usually when a business starts up and is unable to keep people coming back resulting in fewer sales, the effect is startling causing the business to correct things fast or close up. The fact traffic dropped significantly after the free trial ended means people would rather take the bus or subway rather than pay $4.00 to cross the river. Perhaps if they did not have that $9 million cushion they might look at the numbers a whole different way.
New York Post, $4 Fee Turns Ferry Into Ghost Ship, 4 Jul 2011
dnainfo.com, Ridership Drops After East River Ferry Starts Charging, 30 June 2011
dnainfo.com, East River Ferry Draws 12,000 Riders in First Two Days, 1 June 2011