The Great R Train Montague Tube Shutdown of 2013-2014 kicks off later this weekend, but adventurous Bay Ridge and Sunset Park residents who don’t mind an exceedingly long walk will have an opportunity to take a boat instead. After agitating for solutions for those few R train riders who travel great distances, don’t switch to an express train and are bound for Lower Manhattan, politicians and the Riders Alliance celebrated a small victory yesterday when the city announced a new ferry stop, at least for a month.
As the Daily News reported, the Rockaway-Manhattan Ferry will make an extra stop near the Army Terminal at 58th St. near Brooklyn from August 5 through Labor Day. After that, if ridership warrants it and funds can be found, the service may be continued for a few more months of the 14-month R train shutdown.
While politicians celebrated the victory, the feelings were muted by the short timeframe. “We don’t feel that a month is enough time to gauge whether this is a viable alternative,” Justin Brannan, a spokesman for Councilman Vincent Gentile, said, trying really hard. “You have to give people time to know that it’s there before falling in love with the ferry,” Brannan said.
I have to wonder, as I often do, though, if this ferry is viable, necessary or both. Even though the ride is billed as a 15-minute one to Wall St., the ferry terminal is nearly a mile away from the nearest R train step, and the walk is hardly a scenic that snakes under the Gowanus Expressway. The vast majority of riders would be better served transferring to a 4th Ave. express and then to an IRT train at Atlantic Ave. The boat is a fine alternative for the few people who live close enough, but otherwise, those boats will serve as another reminder why ferries aren’t the answer.