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Ferry good news

The Bloomberg Administration announced this week that it will provide more than $1 million in subsidies to bring ferry service back to Sunset Park next week.

Ferries will return to Brooklyn Army Terminal on May 12, Bloomberg said, three and a half months after New York Water Taxi terminated service from the 58th Street pier because of low ridership, high gas prices and, at the time, no city subsidy.

But now, Mayor Bloomberg is coughing up, calling ferries “fast, affordable, and environmentally friendly.

“As our waterfront becomes even more dynamic with new housing and open space in communities like Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Hunters Point, ferries are going to become an even bigger part of our transportation network,” Hizzoner said on Monday at the Army Terminal.

The two year, city-backed pilot-program will start Monday, with New York City Water Taxi sailing two ferries from Rockaway, Queens to the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park each morning.

The two-deck ships, which can carry 149 passengers each, will depart at 6:25 am and 8:25 am and bring passengers to Pier 11 at South and Water streets in Manhattan’s Financial District at 6:45 am and 8:45 am, respectively. Return trips will depart from Pier 11 at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm and will arrive at Brooklyn Army Terminal at 4:50 pm and 6:50 pm.

Each voyage will cost $6. With the purchase of a 40-ticket book, commuters receive a 10-percent discount bringing the fare to $216 — which planners say is comparable to the costs of express buses and a bargain compared to driving.

“It will be much cheaper than driving when you consider the cost of gas, the cost of tolls, and the cost of parking,” said Water Taxi CEO Tom Fox. “It will be fast, too. Do you think you can drive from Sunset Park and get a parking spot in Lower Manhattan in 20 minutes?”

Fox is confident that these ferries will stay afloat even though similar routes have struggled in the past.

“This subsidy from the city will help cover some of the base operating costs,” said Fox, whose ferries haven’t been subsidized since the Federal Emergency Management Agency offered support in the two years following 9-11.

By July, new ferry routes will shuttle South Williamsburg residents from Schaefer Landing to the Financial District and East 34th Street in Midtown, Bloomberg said.

Starting July 4, South Brooklynites can enjoy waterborne trips to Queens beaches when ferries begin offering recreational day trips between Brooklyn Army Terminal and Rockaway, said Water Taxi CEO Tom Fox.

The far-reaching ferry plan also calls for the construction of two additional federally funded North Brooklyn piers by 2010 — one planned for the site of the Edge condos at North Sixth Street and another at a yet to be determined Greenpoint Avenue, said Department of Transportation spokesman Seth Solomonow.

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