Sale boat! Ikea Water Taxi will continue after tour company buys business

Sale boat! Ikea Water Taxi will continue after tour company buys business
Oh buoy: New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Ikea ferry will live on under new owners.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Talk about bailing out a boat!

The ferry that shuttles shoppers and their flat-pack furniture from the Red Hook Ikea to Manhattan is staying afloat despite its owners’ threats to raise the gangway for good, after another boat company bought the business last week.

New York Water Taxi’s honchos claimed they’d have to scuttle their enterprise if the city didn’t award them the contract to run its new five-borough ferry service last year, warning they couldn’t compete with a government-funded rival in Red Hook.

They still didn’t get the gig, but on Thursday they sold the entire operation to New York Cruise Lines — which runs the Circle Line sightseeing cruises — and both companies say the Erie Basin route will now keep chugging along.

“We are especially pleased to be continuing with the Ikea ferry service,” said Water Taxi bigwig Peter Ebright.

New York Water Taxi has been carrying Red Hookers and lovers of stylish-yet-affordable Scandinavian furniture across the river on its yellow-and-black checkered crafts since the store opened in 2008.

It is free on weekends and $5 per trip Monday through Friday — unless you have an Ikea receipt for $10 or more (the price of a colorful bath mat or two plates of Swedish meatballs), and then it is free.

And the new owner isn’t rocking the boat — those rates will stay the same, according to a Circle Line spokeswoman.

The city ultimately tapped out-of-state outfit Hornblower Cruises and Events to run its new ferry service — which will roll out with new stops in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer, with trips costing the same as a subway fare.

Officials had planned on putting the Hook stop somewhere near the Water Taxi’s one on the neighborhood’s southern shore, but ultimately agreed to put it in the Atlantic Basin at the Cruise Terminal — closer to Carroll Gardens — after residents demanded the berth be walking distance from more local homes.

The city has touted the new routes as a complement to other transit services on the East River, but Water Taxi isn’t the only company that capsized in the face of the competition — former East River ferry operator Billybey also sold off its fleet last year after failing to score the coveted contract.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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