2013-05-31 / Front Page

You Can Hitch A Ride To Rockaway Beach

Ferry Good News
By Katie McFadden

The ferry is here to stay...at least for the next six weeks. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the weekday Rockaway ferry service will be extended and weekend service will be added to bring visitors to the beach this summer.

The A train may be back, but many residents rejoiced over the announcement that the ferry, which was set up as an alternative transportation option after Hurricane Sandy, will be extended longer than initially announced.

Back in November, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Seastreak partnered up to provide a temporary ferry service between Rockaway and Manhattan to replace the Sandysoaked subway system. The fare was set at just $2 for the ride to Manhattan. The service began on November 12th, 2012 and was set to continue until the train was repaired. The A train is back as of May 30th, but the ferry floats on as Bloomberg announced on Tuesday that service will be extended.

The weekday ferry service between Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive and Pier 11 at Wall Street and East 34th Street in Manhattan will continue for the next six weeks and possibly be extended again through Labor Day. If ridership does not drop by half of what it is now, the service will be extended for the whole summer, say city officials.

In addition, enhanced weekend service between Rockaway and Pier 11 will also begin July 4th with the addition of one service run in each direction every Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day. In previous summers, a ferry service ran from Riis Landing but the new weekend service will include Beach 108th Street.

Officials hope that the addition of the weekend service will bring more visitors to the beaches for a successful summer season and will boost local business, which is still struggling after the storm. However, weekend riders won’t get to enjoy the $2 fare currently charged by Seastreak. A different ferry operator, TWFM (American Princess), will charge ten times the amount of the weekday service: $20 for a one way ride. Roundtrip tickets will cost $30. The boat is also considerably slower than the Seastreak ferry.

“The continuation of the weekday service will give Rockaway residents another transportation option, and the expanded summer weekend service will make it easier for visitors to get to the Rockaways, bringing additional economic activity to the beaches throughout the summer season, said Mayor Bloomberg in a media release.

Despite the good news of service extensions and enhancements, the ferry service still has the potential to sink by mid-July if ridership takes a dip. If commuters opt for the A Line in large numbers, the ferry will cease operating. Rockawayites remain hopeful. “I hope they keep the ferry going for as long as possible. Rockaway residents deserve another transportation alternative,” said Jim Slowey, a rider who takes the ferry to and from work in Manhattan daily.

“It is nice to have a reliable mode of transportation that does not deal with sitting in traffic,” said John McGovern, a rider who takes the ferry four days a week.

The ride to Wall Street takes roughly 50 minutes, as compared to an hour and a half on the train. The ferry offers a view that can’t be beat, refreshments, and offers a restroom which no subway ride can offer.

However the A train has its perks too. The train runs at least every 20 minutes, meaning commuters don’t have to rely on the strict ferry schedule, which only operates during rush hour times. The ferry departs the Rockaways at 5:45 a.m., 6:35 a.m., 7:45 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:55 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. Monday to Friday. It returns from East 34th Street at 2:45 p.m., 4:20 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and from Pier 11 at 6:35 a.m., 7:25 a.m., 8:35 a.m., 3:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 5:35 p.m., 6:50 p.m. and 7:50 p.m.

The A train will also fill the transportation gap that residents of Broad Channel and Howard Beach have been missing. The ferry doesn’t make stops in these areas and residents have had to rely on alternative bus service for their commutes. The A train may also be the better option for those who don’t handle sea sickness too well.

Only time will truly tell if the ferry will stick around and Rockaway will continue to have multiple means of getting to Manhattan, but if you’re a ferry fan, keep on riding.

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