Ferry Service Returns to the Rockaways to Shuttle the Stranded, Along With Flying Subway Cars

  • Update 4:56 p.m.:Governor Cuomo just announced at an afternoon press conference that the A train shuttle in the Rockaways should be up and running by Sunday. He also announced that the N train along the Sea Line, between 59th Street in Sunset Park and Coney Island, resumed service today.

    “The damage to the A line in Jamaica Bay is absolutely unprecedented, and so is the MTA’s response,” MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota said. “Restoring the entire A train will take months, but the MTA is committed to doing it and to providing alternatives to our customers in the meantime.”

    Original post: The Rockaways have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and that is not just the homes, but the infrastructure, the very fabric of the peninsula. But the city and the MTA have been working nonstop to return life to normal, and that goes for mass transit as well.

    The MTA has been working all week to truck subway cars out to the Rockaways from a trestle in Brooklyn so that a shuttle service might be set up between Beach 116th Street and Mott Avenue/Far Rockaway. “We’re going to do what we can to get the Rockaways back to normal,” MTA chief Joe Lhota told reporters over the weekend, when the MTA was putting together its shuttle plan.

    The shuttle became a necessity after Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage to the Broad Channel crossing, all but destroying the A train connection between Howard Beach and the Rockaways. The shuttle will help subway riders commute within the Rockaways, but they will still be forced to take a shuttle bus in Far Rockaway to connect to the A train in Queens to get into other parts of the city.

    A better option for commuters might be a new ferry service the Bloomberg administration is launching. The Rockaways got a ferry service to much fanfare in 2008, but the steep $6 fare and hourlong trip could never sway riders off the subway, and the service was shut down in early 2010. Now, without that option, the ferry might start to look more attractive.

    A big boon this time around is the ferry service will cost only $2, less than the cost of a subway ride, even. (Update: The service only runs during the weekdays, however.)

    “Thanks to quick work by Seastreak and the Economic Development Corporation, residents of the Rockaways will now have an affordable and reliable way to get to and from Manhattan,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement announcing the program. “Ferry service is one of the many ways the city is helping these New Yorkers begin the enormous work of recovery from Hurricane Sandy.”

    The Economic Development Corporation, which has overseen the popular East River Ferry Service as well, spent the past week creating a temporary ferry landing at Beach 108th Street, with service to both Wall Street’s Pier 11 and Midtown’s 34th Street ferry landing.

    “Community groups, charities and local residents have all rushed to help people living in New York and New Jersey,” Seastreak Chairman James Barker said. “Businesses must also play a part in relief efforts, and Seastreak is doing what it can to bring a sense of normalcy back to the community.”

    It will be interesting to see if the experiences of Sandy, and perhaps better fares, might transform this service from a temporary fix to a devastated system to a permanent transportation option for the Rockaways. Here is the schedule for the service for the time being:

    Rockaway Departures   Pier 11/Wall St. Arrivals   East 34th St. Arrivals
    5:45 AM   6:35 AM   7:00 AM
    6:35 AM   7:25 AM   8:00 AM
    7:45 AM   8:35 AM   8:45 AM
    8:15 AM   9:05 AM   9:30 AM
    9:20 AM   10:10 AM   10:30 AM
    4:30 PM   5:30 PM   N/A
    5:55 PM   6:45 PM   N/A
    6:55 PM   7:45 PM   N/A
    East 34th St. Departures   Pier 11/Wall St. Departures   Rockaway Arrivals
    N/A   6:35 AM   7:45 AM
    N/A   7:25 AM   8:15 AM
    N/A   8:35 AM   9:20 AM
    2:45 PM   3:05 PM   3:55 PM
    4:20 PM   4:45 PM   5:35 PM
    5:10 PM   5:35 PM   6:20 PM
    6:30 PM   6:50 PM   7:40 PM
    7:30 PM   7:50 PM   8:40 PM
  • Earlier this week, the MTA began transporting subway cars via flatbed to set up a shuttle service in the stranded Rockways.

  • Like most MTA operations after the storm, MTA employees worked around the clock.

  • The operation began by bringing a massive crane into place.

  • A giant flatbed was used to transport the equipment.

  • Moving the drives into place.

  • Securing the cranes to the carriers.

  • Laying the drives on the flatbed truck.

  • Steady as she goes.

  • Special equipment was needed to lift the massive subway cars.

  • Getting the hoist into place.

  • Subway cars are lined up to move.

  • Up they go.

  • A little to the left!

  • Down they go.

  • Rockaway, here we come.

  • Teamwork.

  • Working through the night.

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