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Land ho! Free weekend ferry back in Red Hook

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Red Hook’s free ferry is back for the summer.

The “Destination Red Hook Ferry” service will run a loop between Fairway Market, Ikea, and Manhattan’s Pier 11 every weekend through Labor Day. A group of pols and business leaders gathered at the Fairway supermarket on Friday morning to see off the first of the boats, which also ran last summer, saying they will bring much-needed customer traffic to local businesses.

“This ferry is more than just a boat,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “It’s about connecting neighborhoods and bringing foot traffic to local businesses. It gives tourists an opportunity to come here and also local residents a chance to get in and out very quickly.”

The ferry will leave every 25 minutes on weekends. The first boat of the day leaves Fairway at 11:45 am each day and the last one returning to Red Hook leaves Pier 11 at 9:30 pm. Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) worked with Ikea and New York Water Taxi to bring service back this summer. Last year the ferry operated with a subsidy from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, but this year it is entirely privately run.

For now, the ferry is sticking to summer weekends, but Brian McCabe, chief operating officer of New York Water Taxi, said the company could explore providing a weekday commuter service if enough demand exists.

A Columbia Waterfront District resident said the ferry would provide a good summer outing for tourists as well as Red Hook residents.

“I can see a lot of people in Manhattan using this as a fun day trip,” said Hilla Ifrach.

New York Water Taxi has operated a ferry between Pier 11 and Ikea since 2008 that runs year-round, but the new service will provide a more direct route to the restaurants and shops lining Van Brunt Street.

The Ikea ferry began in 2008 as a free service, but the Swedish furniture giant soon grew tired of non-shoppers mooching rides. In 2009 the company began charging $5 per passenger, and deducting the fare from the cost of any purchase more than $10. The boat is still free for all on weekends.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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