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Ferry service gets reprieve

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After saying it would end the Rockaway ferry this month, the service is not ready to drop the anchor just yet.

The service, which launched two years ago and gives Rockaway residents a faster commute to Manhattan than car or public transportation, was supposed to stop Friday but was given an extension until July 1.

It was unclear who made the decision to extend the ferry, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), a big backer of the ferry who was on hand when the service started in 2008, said she, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and two other Council members from outside Queens made the extension “possible.”

“The City Council has been committed to expanding and preserving ferry service in the five boroughs, and I’m incredibly pleased that we will be able to continue to provide the Rockaway Ferry,” Quinn said in a joint statement with Ulrich released Friday. “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and my colleagues ... for making this extension possible.”

Ulrich, who earlier had told TimesLedger Newspapers the service should be expanded, not folded, said the ferry was crucial to Rockaway residents whose commute times are cut in half because of the boat.

“Our prayers have been answered! Reliable ferry transportation for the people of Rockaway has been saved. This was a hard-fought battle that came down to the wire,” he said. “I’d like to thank the mayor and Speaker Quinn for standing with me and my constituents to extend this vital service.”

The service, which costs riders anywhere from a $6 one-way ticket to a $216 40-trip booklet, makes stops from Riis Landing to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Pier 11 in southern Manhattan.

The city Economic Development Corp. initially earlier said the ferry had to be axed because it ran out of the $1.8 million in Council funding that subsidized the program.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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