Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Rockaway Ferry Bridges Transit Gap For Weary Commuters

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Commuters trying to make their way from the Sandy-devastated Rockaways to Manhattan are praising temporary ferry service and shuttle buses which began Monday to help bridge the transit gap. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Despite the heavy fog, the 5:45 a.m. ferry from Rockaway Park left on time, headed for Pier 11 in Downtown Manhattan with Douglas Powers and Emer Casey on board.

"It changes everything in terms of the whole experience of this past two weeks. It really is positive. Very happy about it," Casey said.

"Very grateful for this. I don't know how I could possibly put up with two hours getting to work down on Wall Street without something like this," Powers said.

That something is temporary rush hour ferry service between the Rockaways and Manhattan, to help residents still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy. Part of that reality has been the loss of subway service. The city contracted with Seastreak to provide the ferries, which stop at a landing at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive. The fare is $2 each way, with free transfers in Manhattan between Pier 11 and East 34th Street.

"They were able to move this barge from another location, get it in here, get the ramps down, get the gates in, get the pavement down to the road, and as you can see, it's working out very well," said Seastreak Chairman James Barker.

"It's definitely helpful to be able to leave from Far Rockaway, instead of me having to drive to family member's houses in Brooklyn to leave my car and jump on the train," said one Rockaway Park resident.

The ferry complements shuttle bus service running from Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway to the Howard Beach A train station. It is providing some relief for folks like Maureen Carey, who is still without power and has had less than predictable commutes the past few weeks.

"I think this is great for the neighborhood especially after what just happened here. It's already taking 15 minutes off my regular commute if I was taking the A train," Carey said.

Some residents and elected officials in the Rockaways have been pushing for ferries to Manhattan for years, though a another service was discontinued a few years ago. They are hoping this temporary service is a success, so perhaps it will stick around even after the subway is back.

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