Smooth sailing: Ridgites would take slower ferry over unreliable R

A drop in the ocean: City cuts East River Ferry price to match new boat service
Economic Development Corporation

Seems like anything is better than the R train.

Mayor DeBlasio’s new 69th Street ferry to Manhattan will make at least four stops — and take almost 15 minutes longer than Bay Ridge’s Toonerville Trolley — to get to Downtown Manhattan, but at least one Ridgite says it’s worth the wait, because the R train is hell on rails.

“It can be a painful commute on the train. It’s unreliable, it seems the slightest thing can cause delays,” said Doron Taleporos, who works near to where the ferry would eventually dock. “Just being on the boat would be a much nicer ride.”

Taleporos plans to ride his bike from his home near 74th Street and Fifth Avenue to the pier on 69th Street and Shore Road. The ride should take about nine minutes, just a couple minutes longer than it would take him to walk the three blocks to the 77th Street R station.

Once there, he and the rest of Bay Ridge’s salty seafarers can expect to go from the 69th Street Pier to lower Manhattan’s Pier 11 in roughly 43 minutes on the “South Brooklyn” line, which stops at Brooklyn Army Terminal, Red Hook, Atlantic Avenue, and Dumbo, before crossing the river.

All in all, the trip will take him 17 minutes longer on the ferry than on the R, that is if the R is running on time — as of writing this article on March 18, the R was experiencing “significant delays” because of signal problems at Atlantic Avenue–Barclay’s Center. Trains arrive less frequently but more regularly than the system average, according to a Straphangers Campaign report card that ranked the line 14th out of 19 citywide.

But Southern Brooklyn commuters could potentially shave 20 minutes off the ferry trip if they hop off at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and take a free transfer to a Rockaway line before it makes its 16-minute beeline trip to Pier 11, according to one local pol, who thinks speed is not necessarily what will draw folks to the ferry anyway.

“It’s relaxing and not as stressful — you’re on the water instead of in a hole in the ground, all cramped,” Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) said. “If you can make it work why wouldn’t you skip the R train?”

Gentile believes commuters will opt for the fresh New York harbor air and the scenic views of our fine borough’s waterfront — even if it takes them a bit longer to get to work. But Taleporos believes the ferry’s success will depend on whether or not Bay Ridgites who live beyond walking distance to the 69th Street Pier will be willing to find a way there — and if the city will help them do it.

“It is far from most of Bay Ridge, so to be successful, I think there needs to be some feeder buses or rerouting buses to get people there,” he said. “Outside of myself, I think most people’s concerns will be how much extra time it will take.”

The B64, which runs along Bay Ridge Avenue from 13th Avenue to the pier, might serve as that feeder for some — especially in transit-starved Dyker Heights. It would take 25 minutes to get to the ferry from 86th Street and 13th Avenue on the B64.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.