Home Asides Does Brooklyn really need a ferry for the R train shutdown?

Does Brooklyn really need a ferry for the R train shutdown?

by Benjamin Kabak

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.

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Kevin Finn July 31, 2013 - 2:12 pm

This is a complete waste. Like you stated, the commute down to that pier is a TREK. Now building a viable ferry terminal at the pier at the end of Bay Ridge Ave would be great. There are bus lines that service that pier and many more people live in that immediate area.

What will make all R train riders happy with this pending shutdown of the Montague St tunnel is consistent connections with the D & N express trains. The majority of R train riders, especially from Bay Ridge & Sunset Park, transfer off the R at some point for express service into Manhattan and off the D & N onto the R coming back home. Scheduling R trains to connect with the D & N will make commutes faster and more efficient.

Jerrold July 31, 2013 - 2:38 pm

A bit of historical trivia:

The 69th St. (a.k.a. Bay Ridge Ave.) pier was the Brooklyn terminal of the Brooklyn-Staten Island Ferry before there was a Verrazano Bridge.
A nice cruise for Brooklynites on a summer day was Brooklyn to Staten Island to Manhattan, and back the same way.
Of course, you had to change boats at Staten Island.

There was a sign (intended for motorists) at the 69th St. Pier:
At that time, the alternative was the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and then the Holland Tunnel, even if you were bound for South Jersey or Philadelphia.

Epson45 July 31, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Just make the x27 bus fare down to $2.50, problem solve. If MTA does that.

Jumper July 31, 2013 - 3:16 pm

And increase the frequency due to extra demand. I’d be up for that.

Epson45 July 31, 2013 - 3:52 pm

MTA is actually will increase the frequency. But not the fare 🙁

Demetria July 31, 2013 - 4:06 pm

If there was no R train running at all I could see the utility, but there are R trains running (and shiny newer ones at that, courtesy of the F train) which allow for transfers to multiple lines; transfers that many people take regardless of whether the R runs through the Montague tube. I’m sure each ferry ride will be subsidized to some horrendous degree. Does anyone know where that money is coming from? Is the MTA saving any money by running a split R service?

Stu Sutcliffe July 31, 2013 - 4:31 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t 58th Street in Sunset Park, not Bay Ridge? And how does this make things easier for anyone in Bay Ridge or, considering how inaccessible the waterfront is to either community, Sunset Park?

Epson45 July 31, 2013 - 7:09 pm

Bay Ridge residents do have cars.

JMB July 31, 2013 - 4:55 pm

This is nonsense. Yes, I’m one of the few who choose to take the R local all the way to lower Manhattan ( I get on at 86th st and get off at City Hall)…the R is great because most jump off for the express so you will always have a seat! So what, now I have to take the N at 59th and go to Canal before transferring downtown 1 stop,..big whoop.

This ferry is a waste of money. If the MTA/politicos are really interested in helping us out, increase the frequency of the N and D. Those trains are already packed before arriving at either 59th or 36th (hence why i never take them), it will definitely get nasty with all the additional R riders piling on.

Epson45 July 31, 2013 - 7:11 pm

Problem is the capacity of Manhattan Bridge and Dekalb Av junction prevent further increase more trains per hour

Alek July 31, 2013 - 6:04 pm

No ferry service really needed. R train service in Brooklyn has easy transfers:

Court Street: 2,3,4,5 lines.
Jay Street Metrotech: A,C,F lines

If they need lower manhattan take the 4/5 which runs very often. The A,C too in Lower Manhattan.

aestrivex July 31, 2013 - 7:44 pm

Well, it would make a lot more sense if we had a triboro RX line that stopped right there…

Phantom July 31, 2013 - 11:28 pm

That ferry location is not convenient.

Very few people used the old ferry when it ran from there.

This is a non solution to a very minor problem.

There are multiple connection points for downtown and midtown commuters, most of them not hard at all.

Sunny August 1, 2013 - 9:06 am

If the Montague generates this much fuss I can’t imagine what it will be like when some of the other tubes get work (either numerous weekends or 24/7 closures).

llqbtt August 1, 2013 - 9:17 am

This is the on again off again ferry service for decades. It’s quite nice if you don’t mind driving there, taking a boat ride and then walking up Wall St. It was never popular enough to justify it, so it was discontinued, and the Bay Ridge pier is not especially convenient either. The fare back then was a premium, so a variable then will be if the the subsidized fare of what is it…$2 continues, then it may stand a chance.

Some people will take the x27 (& x28) to lower Manhattan. If ridden from stops nearest the highway, they are both fast and relatively comfortable to Downtown.

TOM August 1, 2013 - 12:40 pm

This remedy is a surprise to me. I used the 58th Street pier ferry when I worked near Wall St and after 9/11 when it was free. Terrific for tourists wanting to get to lower Manhattan. There’s a shuttle at Wall St to all visitor attractions, including the ferry to NJ.
One time the City contracted for shuttle buses in the area to carry ferry customers; however, they never bothered to tell anyone. Total waste. Buses were never used and the City set up NO-PARKING: 5AM-10AM zones along 4th Avenue which really got in the way. All gone and forgotten now.
You apparently don’t know the real attraction of a ferry at 58th Street and not at 69th Street. There is free parking for hundreds of cars on the 58th St. pier which is near the off-ramps of the Belt Pkwy & the Gowanus. Any congestion, just get off, and park n’ sail.
I would not have suggested this as a remedy to mitigate the problem at hand, but Bay Ridge & Sunset Park are being ignored. The R is the catalyst for southwest Brooklyn.

Benjamin Kabak August 1, 2013 - 12:41 pm

I don’t understand the argument that Bay Ridge and Sunset Park are being ignored. Can you elaborate?

Phantom August 1, 2013 - 12:56 pm

This only makes sense to people who drive to the pier. There is free parking. But if you miss the last boat, you have your car stuck on the pier in the middle of nowhere overnight as a ” bonus “.

Phantom August 1, 2013 - 12:58 pm

I live in Bay Ridge and am a very frequent user of mass transit there.

We are not being ignored. We are very well served as compared with most of the city. We, like Staten Island, have a choir of professional complainers who keep saying that we’re under-served, ignored, used and abused. And every word of it is bullshit.

Kevin Finn August 1, 2013 - 4:31 pm

The biggest complaint I’ve had regarding subway service in Bay Ridge, where I’ve lived for 12 years, is how long it takes to get back into the ‘hood at any time. Commuting out of Bay Ridge to downtown Bklyn or Manhattan is a breeze. Being near the terminal at 95th St means you should always know when an R train will be arriving (thanks to apps like iTrans). Then connections to the D & N make travel that much faster. I consistently arrive into Soho in 30 min, with travel to midtown another 10 – 15 minutes more.

Coming back we are all reliant on the connections at Atlantic Ave, 36th St & 59th St. Wait times for R trains have been up to 20 min just after rush hour and the late-night shuttle ALWAYS runs on 20 minute headways. Just having reliable connections onto and off of the D & N will make everyone’s commute that much easier.

Nets Cowbell Guy August 1, 2013 - 7:14 pm

This is how I would run the service on the BMT Broadway Line during the Shutdown

N runs from Astoria to 49th on the Local tracks, then Express from 42nd to Canal St. & over the Manhattan Bridge to Coney Island

Q runs between 57th & Coney Island on the Express tracks

R runs from Forest Hills to Prince Street as it normally does, the use the Canal St. station that the N & Q use to access the Bridge. Once it gets to DeKalb, run to Bay Ridge as normal

Bring back the W & run it from Astoria to Whitehall Terminal.

^ Essentially what service was before the W folded & with the R using the Manhattan Bridge.

Provide a free out of system transfer between Atlantic Ave & MetroTech. For service between Court St. Boro Hall & Atlantic Ave, use the 2/3/4/5.

Epson45 August 1, 2013 - 7:36 pm

Its a waste of resources. There’s no need to bring the W back. The R on weekdays will disrupt the N and Q frequency and Dekalb Av and Manhattan Bridge can not handle a lot of load.

Nets Cowbell Guy August 1, 2013 - 7:57 pm

OR, tell people to transfer at 4th & 9th between the F & R


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