Rockaway ferry expects spike in ridership ahead of LIRR strike

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“I think we would be instantly very, very busy — probably at capacity level,” Seastreak President Jim Barker said of a possible strike. “And it would be up to EDC whether they would like to bring more vessels on the run, or someone else, like the MTA. There has been no talk about that just yet, but there has been some discussion internally about other ports that could be used, such as Glen Cove. At the end of the day, these things can ultimately be settled, but in any case, we would be available to help people get to work.”

The MTA said that while it is providing free ferry service in Glen Cove during the morning and evening rush hour, there are currently no plans to expand the service in Rockaway. Seastreak would operate a ferry, Barker said, from Glen Cove to East 34th Street in midtown, with three westbound runs in the morning and three eastbound at night. They would be able to carry 1,000 customers and trips would take 40 minutes. However, parking at Glen Cove is very limited, and the MTA recommends that passengers carpool or arrange for drop-off and pickup.

Seastreak currently operates two vessels out of Rockaway — for $3.50 each way — with multiple runs in the morning and evening to lower Manhattan and midtown. Seastreak averages about 1,800 commuters per day round-trip, Barker said, and the larger boats can hold up to 500 people. Free parking is available in a lot across Beach Channel Drive, Barker said, with approximately 300 to 400 spots and additional parking in the street, although Barker recommends arriving early.

“First of all, there is no traffic on the ocean, and you get a beautiful relaxing ride to the city for $3.50,” Barker said. “There is a direct service without any traffic headaches and it’s a beautiful way to go to work.”

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