By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
R train riders received some “ferry” good news on Wednesday.
The temporary ferry service instituted at the Brooklyn Army Terminal earlier this month to accommodate R train riders stranded by the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel won’t end on Labor Day as had been expected. Instead, the Brooklyn-to-Wall Street ferry will operate until January, according to local lawmakers who announced the extension on Wednesday.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Economic Development Corporation decided to allow the ferry service to continue into 2014. The ferry is operated by Seastreak, a New Jersey based company.
"Just as we expected, this ferry service has been wildly popular. I encourage people to skip the subway crowds and use the ferry which will get you to Wall Street in 15 minutes for just $2.00!” Gentile said.
The service, which has been dubbed the “new R train,” was installed on Aug. 5 as a transportation alternative for R train riders whose commutes into Manhattan have been nightmarish since the closure of the Montague Street Tunnel. Officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said they had to close the tunnel, which provides the link from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the R train, to repair the passageway from significant damage it sustained in Superstorm Sandy last October. The tunnel closed on Aug. 3 and will remain shut for 14 months.
“Today, I thank the Mayor, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and SeaStreak for recognizing this ferry service as a valuable alternative to commuters affected by the R train tunnel closure and working with me to extend it through 2014," Gentile said.
The ferry picks up passengers at the Brooklyn Army Terminal Pier, located on 58th Street off First Avenue.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) said he was pleased the Bloomberg Administration agreed to let the ferry continue operating. “This is not a permanent solution, but a step in the right direction, and will continue to provide an appropriate alternative while the R train remains under construction,” he said.
“I will continue to lobby for a permanent ferry for all of our residents, and I ask all members of the community to help increase ridership by telling their friends, neighbors, and family that the ferry to Manhattan continues!” Golden said.
City officials confirmed the news to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Wednesday morning and said an official announcement would be made at a later time.
Mayor Bloomberg announced the new ferry service on July 30. The ferry service doesn’t begin at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The ferry, which operates weekdays, is part of the city’s Rockaway Ferry service. The ferry departs from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways and then makes a stop at the army terminal before heading toward Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. The first ferry arrives at the army terminal pier at 6:15 a.m. and departs at 6:20 a.m.
“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 at the time.
“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,” EDC Executive Director Kyle Kimball said.