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Ferry fills void between Rockaways and city

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A ferry operated by Seastreak leaves Rockaway en route to Manhattan Monday morning.
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About a dozen people wait to board the 9:20 a.m. ferry leaving from Rockaway and headed for Manhattan.
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Legal secretary Lori Harnung waits to board the ferry.
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A ferry operated by Seastreak leaves Rockaway en route to Manhattan Monday morning.
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A ferry operated by Seastreak leaves Rockaway en route to Manhattan Monday morning.

Rockaway residents have a new way to get to and from Manhattan after a ferry launched Monday from Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108th Street and some commuters took advantage of the new service operated by Seastreak to get to work and school on its inaugural day.

Legal secretary Lorianne Hornung had been staying with her loved ones since Hurricane Sandy struck and had been to work near Wall Street only one day after she drove from her mother’s home in Howard Beach to the Rockaway Boulevard subway station in Ozone Park last week.

“We have been staying on friends’ floors and couches and moving around,” the Rockaway resident said as she waited with about a dozen other people to board the final ride of the morning to Manhattan.

The ferry service stops at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan and at 34th Street and runs five boats each morning, starting at 5:45 a.m. The final ferry of the night leaves from Wall Street at 7:50 p.m. Each ride costs $2, and there are free transfers between Wall Street and 34th Street in Manhattan.

Baruch accounting student Clyon Jackson said he had missed a couple of classes since Sandy, but made it to school each day by staying with a friend in Springfield Gardens and commuting to the city.

“If I’m in Far Rockaway until now, I wouldn’t have been able to get to school on time,” said Jackson, explaining that the first floor of his home and most of the possessions on that level were destroyed.

As the boat pulled into a temporary landing, passengers crowded around the entrance and took photos of the approaching craft.

When asked if she planned to use the service daily to get to work, Hornung said, “We’ll see. Today is the first try.”

Other than the ferry, commuters must rely on cars and buses to get into and out of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Howard Beach will be the end of the line on the A-train for months as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority works to restore full service on the line. The agency did not say how long repairs would take other than “several months.”

The A train normally runs between Mott Street in Far Rockaway and 207th Street in Manhattan, but now stretches between Howard Beach-John F. Kennedy International Airport and Ozone Park-Lefferts Boulevard to Inwood.

The agency said the A and S line tracks, electrical substations, signals, switches and third rail power components also suffered extensive flooding and saltwater corrosion during the tidal surge. A 2 1/2-mile stretch of track includes areas where the track bed was washed away, leaving tracks hanging in mid-air and perimeter safety fences severely damaged.

“All must be rebuilt or repaired after first removing up to 3 feet of assorted marine debris,” the MTA said. “Planning and conducting reconstruction will be delayed by the challenges of accessing the worksite by water and winter weather.”

In the mean time, free shuttle buses are running 24 hours a day between Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue and Howard Beach-JFK, where riders can connect with A trains. The Q22, Q35, Q52, Q53 and Q113 buses are other alternatives.

Visit mta.info for schedules.

Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at timesledgerphotos@gmail.com or by phone at 718-260-4589.

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