No subway service to Manhattan? R train riders can take ferry
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Take heart, R train riders. It’s true that you’re losing the Montague Street tunnel starting Aug. 3. But you’re gaining a ferry!
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Tuesday that the city’s Rockaway Ferry will make an additional stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal pier at 58th Street in Sunset Park to provide a transit option for the Brooklyn commuters impacted by disruptions to the R train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
The service will continue to be operated by Seastreak and will run on a similar weekday schedule to the existing pilot ferry service, which is set to continue through Labor Day, Bloomberg said.
The Montague Street tunnel, which provides the connection between Brooklyn and Manhattan for the R train, will close for repairs starting Aug. 3. The tunnel, which sustained heavy damage in Superstorm Sandy, is expected to remain closed for 14 months.
The ferries will depart from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, stopping at the new 58th Street landing in Brooklyn, Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan and East 34th Street in Midtown. One-way fares will remain $2.00. The new Brooklyn stop will begin Monday, Aug. 5.
“Building upon our existing Rockaway ferry service will provide a critical transit option to assist Brooklyn residents during disruptions to the R train,” Bloomberg said. The mayor said the ferry service is part of “our commitment to help New Yorkers recover from Hurricane Sandy.”
New York City Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kyle Kimball called the new ferry stop an affordable transit option for commuters who would otherwise have a great deal of trouble getting into Manhattan.
“The addition of the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop to the pilot Rockaway Ferry service will provide commuters affected by the upcoming subway suspension with an affordable transit option,” Kimball said.
The added stop is expected to have minimal impact on the current weekday ferry schedule, with service now beginning at BAT at 6:20 AM, with ferries departing hourly for Manhattan until 10:00 AM, and regular service resuming during the evening rush.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said he and Council Speaker Christine Quinn successfully brokered the deal with City Hall and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to make the temporary ferry service available. Gentile said he and Quinn took action to mitigate the impact of the tunnel closure and to ease commutes.
“I am pleased to have worked with the Mayor’s Office, Speaker Quinn and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to make this possible,” Gentile said. “Having this temporary ferry will ease commutes for those who use the R train, so I encourage people to skip the train crowds and use the ferry which will get you to Wall Street in 15 minutes and then to midtown thereafter,” he said.
“Expanding the Rockaway Ferry to Sunset Park will be a boon for the thousands of straphangers preparing for a 14-month disruption on the R train,” Quinn said.
Borough President Marty Markowitz praised Bloomberg, Quinn, Gentile, Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) and Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr. (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) for getting the ferry service to come to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.
“The need was made ‘ferry’ clear when the MTA announced that it would be closing the R train tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan this August for more than one year,” Markowitz said.
“I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and Council members Gentile, Recchia and Gonzalez for getting this service up immediately and refusing to go 'back and forth' in providing a much ‘boater’ alternative to the subway crowding and longer commute times that the R train disruption will cause for transit riders,” the borough president said.
“While the MTA moves to make needed repairs to this essential transit artery, we are pleased to announce that residents of south Brooklyn will receive this new ferry service to lessen the strain on their commutes,” said Recchia, chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee.
“I am thrilled to bring ferry service back to my district! I sincerely thank my colleague Councilman Vincent Gentile and his staff, as well as Speaker Quinn and Councilman Recchia, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and other advocates and residents for coming together to make this a reality,” Gonzalez said.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) said he had a series of extensive conversations with the mayor regarding the need to implement a ferry service. Golden said he also wrote Bloomberg a letter back on June 5 asking that a plan be put in place to provide an alternative means of transportation for stranded R train riders.
“I am proud to have worked alongside Mayor Bloomberg in this effort to provide a quick, convenient and user-friendly way for residents of my district to get to work once the R line connection to Manhattan ends when the construction starts,” Golden said.
US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) applauded the announcement of the ferry service. “This is welcomed news for the commuters in Bay Ridge who rely on the R train daily to take them to and from work,” Grimm said.