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City to unveil Far Rock ferry

The city was expected to launch ferry service linking the Rockaways to lower Manhattan May 12 as part of a two-year pilot program that will cut residents' commute by about half, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday.

Under the pilot program, the ferry will make two Manhattan-bound trips at 5:45 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. and two trips to Far Rockaway at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m on weekdays. Weekend service was yet to be announced.

The route begins at Riis Landing in Far Rockaway, makes a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and ends at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. The trip is expected to take one hour, or 45 minutes fewer than the average commute time from Far Rockaway to the city.

"Ferries are fast, affordable and environmentally-friendly," Bloomberg said. "As our waterfront becomes even more dynamic... ferries are going to became an even bigger part of our city's transportation network."

New York Water Taxi will run the ferry service. The company was also expected to restore the ferry route between Long Island City and Manhattan in July.

A one-way ticket costs $6 while 10 trips cost $60 and 40 trips $216. Commuters can pay an additional $1 to transfer to another New York Water Taxi route along the way.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) allocated $1.1 million for the ferry service.

"One of the first things I campaigned on was ferry service in the Rockaways," Addabbo said. "To me, it's a no-brainer. It provides another viable alternative to what we have and I think it helps."

During the course of the pilot program, Addabbo said, additional runs may be added to schedule.

"It will only get better," the councilman said.

Buses from the Rockaways into the city can take "well over an hour," he said, and the subway is no better.

"That A train is very unreliable, especially in the winter," Addabbo said, because the tracks running above Jamaica Bay can freeze, standing passengers.

"Without a doubt, ferry service beats both the train and the bus as far as time," he said. "It has all the successful ingredients to be a successful run."

Addabbo said he plans to be aboard the ferry on its first trip.

"After working six years on this, I wouldn't miss it for the world," he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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