The mayor was on hand at Brooklyn Bridge Park Monday morning to christen the first boat of the upcoming citywide ferry service. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
With the crack of a bottle, officialls dedicated the Lunchbox, the first of 20 boats that will be part of the city's new commuter ferry service.
The initial ferries will begin carrying passengers on May 1, fulfilling a major promise by Mayor Bill de Blasio just as his re-election campaign kicks into gear.
"This is going to be a new day for our city, a new chance for people to get around in a better way, an easier way," de Blasio said.
City Hall pulled out all the stops Monday, shooting aerial footage of the Lunchbox and another ferry as they took a picture-perfect inaugural spin.
The boats sped past Lower Manhattan, looped the Statue of Liberty and steamed up the East River, the spray of a city fireboat welcoming them to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
"What a beautiful ride that was!" de Blasio said. "That was just wonderful to be part of the maiden voyage of the Lunchbox."
The festivies also provided the first peek inside the boats. Each ferry will be able to carry 150 people and come with a concession stand and charging ports.
"We want to make things a little calmer, a little less stressful. And a ride on a ferry makes things a little nicer," de Blasio said. "And a lot of times, it gets you where you're trying to go faster."
The initial service will link the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan. Service will expand in stages through the summer of 2018 to include the Bronx and Brooklyn. The San Francisco-based company Hornblower will operate the ferries.
With the price of a ride on the citywide ferry service pegged to that of a ride on the buses or subways, the challenge for the city will be to make the ferry service financially sustainable.
City-subsidized ferry service between the Rockaways and Manhattan ended two-and-a-half years ago because the limited ridership couldn't justify the operating costs. De Blasio is banking on a full network of routes and speedy boats making the new service a better commuting alternative and more sustainable.
"It's part of our backyard. And we believe, 'What's wrong with making the commute the best part of your day?'" de Blasio said.
A commute that will come with some pretty spectacular views.