Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Subsidized Ferry's Fate Unknown as End Date Nears

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Some former subway riders in the Rockaways and Sunset Park have gotten used to a more peaceful and civilized way of commuting into Manhattan but it may soon end unless the de Blasio administration provides a reprieve. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

The Rockaway ferry has views, room to spread out and even a place to grab a coffee or a cold one. Try getting that on a bus or a subway.

"This is the best way to get into the city," said one ferry rider.

The ferry started when Hurricane Sandy disconnected residents of the peninsula from the A train for seven months after the storm. But the clock's ticking on the ferry's latest extension, set to expire January 31, and hundreds of riders who've grown accustomed to commuting in comfort are hoping it sticks around for good.

"I think it's fabulous. This gets you into Manhattan without the hassle of getting on the train or the bus. And they should keep it here," said one ferry rider.

Mayor de Blasio will now have to decide the ferry's fate after his predecessor extended service three times but punted on whether to make it permanent. The latest extension in August added a stop in Brooklyn, creating another option for commuters affected by the closing of an R train tunnel in the East River.

An average of 735 riders take the ferry daily to and from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan, the city says, and they've made up their minds.

"Absolutely. It's been an amazing experience to take the ferry to work," said one ferry rider.

"We used to sign lots of petitions and we'll do it again if needed. Because everyone who has taken it is just amazed and we love it," said another ferry rider.

At two bucks a ride, the ferry has to be subsidized by by the city. But riders who spoke with NY1 said they would be willing to pay even more if the service sticks around beyond January 31.

"I understand that it was temporary and that it was subsidized. But it's understandable that they cannot do it forever, for just $ two dollars a ride," said one ferry rider.

"A couple of bucks more, certainly. I think it's worth it," noted another ferry rider.

The city is not saying yet what the future holds for the ferry or what a ride would cost to keep it around. However, those who commute by water say they are in no hurry to get to work any other way.

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