Today’s news:

Ferry service returns to BK

Ferry service is coming back to the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

The service will be restored May 12th, as a stop on the new Rockaways to Manhattan route that the city is subsidizing as part of its five-borough ferry initiative announced earlier this year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn shared the welcome news during a press conference at the 58th Street ferry pier, on May 5th.

New York Water Taxi will operate the route, Monday through Friday, between Riis Landing, at Breezy Point, and Pier 11 at the foot of Wall Street, with a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. There will be two morning runs, stopping at 58th Street at 6:25 a.m. and 8:25 a.m., and arriving in Manhattan 20 minutes later.

The two afternoon runs will leave Wall Street at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., with stops at 58th Street at 4:50 p.m. and 6:50 p.m.

Between July 4th and Labor Day, there will be daily service, to allow Brooklynites access to Rockaway’s beaches.

The restored ferry service is fueled by $1.1 million in councilmanic funding allocated through the efforts of Queens Councilmember Joseph Addabbo. This summer, additional service will be instituted along the East River, from South Williamsburg and Long Island City.

In addition, the city has committed $500,000 to funding a study of potential ferry terminus locations in all five boroughs, including both Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.

“Ferries are fast, affordable and environmentally friendly,” noted Bloomberg. “As our waterfront becomes even more dynamic, ferries are going to become an even bigger part of our city’s transportation network.”

“Ferries offer New Yorkers an affordable, convenient and environmentally responsible way of getting from point A to point B,” added Quinn. “By making them a key part of our city’s transportation infrastructure, we are helping to ensure that New York City remains a shining example of urban sustainability for cities all over the world.”

The announcement was hailed by Heather McCown, president of the Sunset-Ridge Waterfront Alliance, as “good news.”

But, she added, still needed is restoration of ferry service between the 69th Street Veterans Memorial Pier and Manhattan. That service was discontinued in the 1990s, when the pier was closed for rehabilitation, and both City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and State Senator Marty Golden, who represent the area, have pressed for its re-establishment.

“We’re getting there. We haven’t won but we’re definitely on the right track,” noted McCown, who pointed out that this is the first time the city has underwritten any ferry service other than the Staten Island ferry.

“We are happy to see elected officials following through on their promise,” McCown added. “They said today that this was one step of many and one ferry of many. We are going to hold them to that and keep pushing for ferry service to Bay Ridge.”

Golden, who had been instrumental in getting ferry service at 58th Street in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, also applauded the news.

“With the rising price of gas, with the increase in tolls and parking, and, simply, just due to traffic congestion, taking the waterways instead of the highways to work is by far the better way,” he noted.

Golden was joined in this sentiment by Gentile, who had put $500,000 into the city budget in 2004 to add a ferry slip at 69th Street that city officials still have not tapped.

The full trip between Riis Landing and Pier 11 is one hour, each way. Fares are $6 one way, the same as before service was halted February 1st, with a $1 transfer fee to other New York Water Taxi commuter routes along the East River.

“The good news is that the fare hasn’t gone up, even though the cost of fuel has doubled in the last year,” remarked Tom Fox, the president and CEO of New York Water Taxi.

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