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Dream boat! Ferry to provide temporary relief to R train riders

Anchors aweigh: Ridgites and Sunsetters will get to take a boat like this one into Manhattan from Aug. 5 until Labor Day — and possibly beyond.
Photo by Christina Santucci

Call it Bay Ridge’s ferry godmother.

It’s a wish come true for R train riders facing the 14-month loss of their link to Manhattan — for a few weeks, at least.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation — the semi-public agency that serves as the city’s liaison to business — has arranged to have the Seastreak ferry that runs from Rockaway to the Financial District make a stop at 58th Street in Brooklyn to pick up Manhattan-bound commuters.

The boat will offer a 15-minute trip to Wall Street for R riders facing a painful switch to the 4 or 5 trains at Court Street during the year-plus-long planned construction on the tunnel linking the two boroughs, which suffered electrical damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Politicians from Bay Ridge — where the R train is the only subway link to other boroughs — applauded the move.

“It is a victory for Bay Ridge and most importantly, for the commute of so many,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge).

But the convenience may be short-lived. The ferry service will begin Aug. 5 — three days after the tunnel closes — and last until Labor Day. The city will then assess if ridership is high enough to justify continuing the service — and, if not, it will end. Electeds urged commuters to use the ferry to keep the service from sinking.

“We must show the city that we need this service and that we will use it in large numbers so that it can be continued beyond the trial run,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (R–Bay Ridge).

One-way fares will be $2. The first ferry will stop at 58th Street at 6:20 am, and run every hour until 10 am. The boat will stop first at Wall Street, then at East 34th Street. Returning boats will launch from Manhattan from 4 pm until 8 pm.

Ferry service from 58th Street — which took commuters into the city following 9-11 and during the 2005 transit strike — last ran in 2010, when it was discontinued because of lack of funding.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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