More Boats on the Water after Tolls Waived

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Steven Gosset | Steven.Gosset@nypa.gov | (914) 390-8192 

RECREATIONAL VESSEL TRAFFIC ON NEW YORK STATE CANALS INCREASED 3.4 PERCENT IN 2018

More Boats on the Water after Tolls Waived on System for Second Consecutive Year; Hire Boats Show Big Increase

ALBANY—The New York State Canal Corporation today announced that motorized pleasure boat traffic on the state Canal System increased 3.4 percent over last year as more boaters took advantage of tolls being waived on the system for the second consecutive year.

Motorized pleasure boats—the most-common vessels on the canals—were recorded traveling through Canal System locks and lift bridges 71,463 times during the 2018 navigation season that began May 15 and ended Oct. 10, compared to 68,928 lockings in 2017. Lockings are up 9 percent compared to the same period in 2016, the last year tolls were imposed, when 65,281 recreational vessels locked through.

 “We are thrilled that more people are experiencing New York’s canals and all they have to offer,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “With 524 miles of waterways to explore, our Canal System provides unparalleled recreational opportunities and is becoming a magnet for tourism.”

The figures account for each time a boat goes through a lock or under a lift bridge, not the actual number of boats. If a boat travels through several locks, it would be counted as locking through each time. The numbers also do not account for boaters who only travel locally and do not go through a lock. A large percentage of boating traffic falls into this category.

New York waived tolls for recreational vessels in 2017 to celebrate the Erie Canal bicentennial and did so again this year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal, now known as the New York State Canal System. It includes the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals.

A decision on tolls for 2019 will be made by the end of the year. In the past, the Canal Corporation has charged $25-$100 for a season pass; the exact amount depends on the size of the vessel.

The Canal System also saw a 21 percent increase in hire boats leased by private companies for three to seven nights, so vacationers can leisurely explore the canal corridor. A hire boat on display this year at the new Exposition Center at the Great New York State Fair drew thousands of visitors.

“There is no better way to spend free time than boating in upstate New York, and some of the best boating is on the historic New York State Canal System,” said Gabe Capobianchi, Empire State Marine Trades Association president.

“It’s great to see recreational use of the system on the rise and it’s an indication that more people are discovering the joys of boating and the wonderful resource that the Canal System is to New York State.”

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