A newly branded NYC Ferry public system will start up passenger operations May 1, with service to Rockaway in Queens and on an East River route, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced Thursday morning.

Citywide Ferry has been rebranded NYC Ferry.

Citywide Ferry has been rebranded NYC Ferry.

“The Citywide Ferry is [email protected] Anchors aweigh starting May 1st!” was the first announcement on the mayoral office Twitter account, accompanied by animation showing the routes and a new logo.

On the far east ocean side of the city, Rockaway residents have one of the longest commutes in the region by bus or rail, and the ferry service is eagerly anticipated there. The Rockaway landing was one of the first to be assembled this winter, and that route could be a popular bellwether for success of the system.

The first ferry routes were expected to start in June, with city officials promising Rockaway would be first. The May 1 start date moves that up a month, and will afford more time to work kinks out of the first route. Rockaway is also anticipated to be a popular daytrip route for beachgoers this summer.

With $2.75 one-way fares, the public system is priced with other options like the subway, but more convenient and faster for commuters from underserved neighborhoods near the water.

Early runs on the East River will use existing vessels being refurbished for the system, as the new Incat Crowther designed 86’x29’ catamarans arrive to build up a new fleet of 19 vessels. Another three ferries built at Horizon Shipbuilding Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala., are to arrive this month, with the rest from Horizon and Metal Shark, Franklin, La., to come.

The first, dubbed Hull 200, arrived in New York Harbor April 2. On Wednesday morning,  ferry partners of the New York Economic Development Corporation and Citywide Ferry by Hornblower hosted news crews to look at the vessel at its temporary berth at Liberty Landing in Jersey City. EDC president and CEO James Padgett and Hornblower senior vice president Cameron Clark waved from the rail as the Hull 200 took a spin for the cameras.

Construction continues on ferry landings and Hornblower’s operations base at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The company expects to fill around 200 jobs by this summer.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.