Big wheel keep on turning! Ridge commuter ferry to last through Jan. 2014!

Testing the water! Ferry pilot program launches from Brooklyn Army Terminal
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Bay Ridge’s ferry is staying afloat — for a few more months, at least.

The Mayor’s office announced on Wednesday that the boat service from the Rockaways to lower Manhattan will continue to pick up passengers at the Brooklyn Army Terminal through the end of January, 2014.

Hizzoner cited the popularity of the 15-minute trip across the East River among early morning commuters as the reason for continuing the service, which is meant to fill the void left by the 14-month stoppage of R train service under the East River.

“Ferry service has proven to be a popular and effective mode of transportation for Rockaways and Brooklyn residents,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Extending the service through January will allow riders to continue taking advantage of this quick, enjoyable and sustainable transit option.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation said that ongoing ridership numbers would determine the lifespan of the service.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) — who attributed the extension to his extensive flyering campaign — said he was lobbying to get a heated enclosure constructed on the 58th Street slip to prevent ridership from dropping with the temperature. The councilman stressed the importance of people continuing to use the service in the absence of R train service.

“They gave us this ferry, now the ball is in our court, and it’s our job to make sure people use it,” said Gentile.

Commuter boats last plied the waters between Sunset Park and Wall Street in 2010, but the city discontinued that round of service because of low rider numbers. Gentile and State Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge) called for the city to restore the service during the current R shut-down, which effectively severed Bay Ridge’s only subway link to the other boroughs.

The tunnel is schedule to re-open in Nov. 2014, but neither Gentile nor the city could say if ferry service will last that long.

The first boats launch from the Army Terminal dock weekday mornings at 6:20 am. Another boat departs at 7:10 am, followed by ships at 8:20, 8:50, and 10:05 am. They dock first at Wall Street, then head upriver to East 34th Street. Fare is $2 one-way, and commuters can skip the train altogether by paying $2 to ride the shuttle van that picks up passengers above every Bay Ridge R stop starting in time to make the 7:10 ferry. The shuttle stops at 95th Street and Fourth Avenue 40 minutes before each departure, at 86th and Fourth 35 minutes beforehand, at 77th and Fourth 30 minutes early, and at 69th Street and Fourth 25 minutes prior to launch.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.