By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The decision by Mayor Bill de Blasio to extend the Sunset Park-Wall Street ferry service into the spring will help R train riders coping with the loss of direct service to Manhattan, according to southern Brooklyn lawmakers.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) both said the loss of R train service due to the ongoing repairs of the Montague Street tunnel are causing a hardship for straphangers that is alleviated somewhat by the ferry service at the Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier on 58th Street.
“For residents of Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, the R train has always been our transit lifeline. But since August 2013, when the MTA commenced a 14-month closure of the R-train tunnel into Manhattan to complete critical post-Sandy repair work, many of us have turned to our waterways for high-speed commuting,” Gentile said. “The Brooklyn Army Terminal Ferry has quickly become an essential fixture of southwest Brooklyn’s transportation network, whisking commuters from 58th Street to Wall Street in just 15 minutes! The quality of life improvements the BAT Ferry offers have quickly become apparent around my community. The R train will not resume its normal service until October 2014. The BAT Ferry has quickly and successfully filled in this transportation gap by providing an alternate means of commutation that is quick, reliable, and affordable."
On Jan. 21, de Blasio announced that the ferry service, which is operating on a temporary basis and was scheduled to stop on Jan. 31, will be extended until May. The mayor also said the city had the option of extending the service until August.
The temporary ferry service was launched in November 2012.
"The residents of southwest Brooklyn, who utilize the ferry service from the Brooklyn Army Terminal, are breathing a sigh of relief. Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration, Brooklynites will continue to have access to our waterway for fast and convenient transportation," Golden said.
The extension will allow the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to determine the viability of long-term service and identify an operator for the line, officials announced.
The ferry service, operated by Seastreak, will continue to run on its current schedule and charge $3.50 per ride.
The ferry service operates between the Rockaways and Manhattan and makes a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier.
This marks the fourth time the city has extended the ferry service.
"I thank Mayor de Blasio and EDC President Kimball for working to extend our city's commitment to quality transportation access for all New Yorkers, be they in Bay Ridge, Belle Harbor or beyond," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
"I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and his commitment to the residents of the outer boroughs in extending ferry service to south Brooklyn and the Rockaway peninsula, state Sen. Diane Savino (Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island) said.