ROCKAWAY BEACH — The Rockaway ferry, which was launched to relieve commuting woes after the A train was damaged after Hurricane Sandy, will be extended through the end of January, Mayor Bloomberg announced Wednesday.
The city had previously extended the boat through Labor Day, and said they would reevaluate after looking at ridership. An additional stop in Sunset Park was added this month while the R train tunnel, which was damaged after Hurricane Sandy, is repaired.
Mayor Bloomberg announced the extension on Wednesday afternoon, saying the ferry had "proven to be a popular and effective mode of transportation for Rockaways and Brooklyn residents."
The ferry service has allowed for more than 120,000 passenger trips since its initial launch after Hurricane Sandy in November, according to the city.
“I think it’s fantastic news for every neighborhood in southern Queens and Rockaway that are still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy,” said Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder, who filed petitions to extend the service in June.
“We’ve been asking for ferry service for years, and it’s about time we finally have a commitment.”
The ferry, which is operated by Seastreak, was introduced on Nov. 12, weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit the peninsula. The A train tracks were damaged extensively, and residents in Broad Channel and Rockaway were left without subway service to Manhattan.
In May, after the A train was restored, the mayor and the Economic Development Corporation announced a six-week continuation of the route, with the potential of an extension through Labor Day weekend if ridership was strong. They also added a weekend ferry in July.
The boat, which costs $2 a ride on weekdays, makes two morning trips from the ferry landing at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive to lower Manhattan and Midtown.
At a press conference in Rockaway last week, Mayor Bloomberg said ridership on the ferry was higher than expected, but he was unsure about extending it through the winter due to weather concerns.
Goldfeder, though, pointed out that cold winters aren't a factor on the Staten Island ferry, although the ride to Rockaway is much longer.
Goldfeder said the fight continues, and said he will pressure the mayoral candidates to make a commitment to making the ferry permanent if they are elected.
Nearly every mayoral candidate has said they are committed to continuing the ferry if they are elected, according to The Wave, which first reported the ferry extension.
Speaker Christine Quinn told the paper, "I would like to maintain the vital Rockaway ferry service, and would do everything possible to keep the fare at $2.”
Republican candidate — and former MTA head — Joe Lhota said, “You have my commitment to maintain the ferry service with no diminution in service and an attempt to maintain the $2.00 fare."