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Glen Cove ferry service during Penn track work comes to an end

The last Glen Cove ferry taking commuters to Manhattan ran Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. The service comes to a close as the LIRR prepares to resume normal service at Penn Station. Credit: Steve Pfost

Manhattan-bound commuters took in one last sunrise Friday morning as their ferry left the Glen Cove terminal.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s summer ferry service came to a close Friday as the Long Island Rail Road prepares to resume normal service at Penn Station on Tuesday.

Ferry riders described a bittersweet final ride to work.

“I just wish I had taken this boat more,” said Glen Cove resident Richard Schwam, 33, who only started using the service last week. “It’s a nice atmosphere.”

In July, the MTA enlisted two ferry operators to work out of the Glen Cove terminal, which had not run ferries to Manhattan since 2002.

The ferries were one of the options the MTA provided to commuters as Amtrak repaired tracks at Penn Station, forcing the LIRR to reduce rush-hour service to and from the station.

Four ferries — two each for the morning and evening commutes — ran between Glen Cove and either Wall Street or 34th Street each weekday since work began on July 10. Ferry ridership was modest throughout the summer, with about 50 people daily per boat, Glen Cove Deputy Mayor Barbara Peebles said.

Schwam said he was hesitant to try the ferry because getting to his midtown office from the dock isn’t as easy as from Penn Station. But he decided last week to give the ferry service a shot for its final two weeks.

Now, he and other commuters said they’re sad to see it go. Some had lengthened their commutes or changed their schedules, just to see the sunrise on the ferry on their way to work.

About two dozen people rode the 6:35 a.m. ferry to 34th Street Friday morning. Riders sipped on drinks from the ferry’s coffee bar and took photos of the sunrise, many making small talk with one another.

Vincent DelGatto, 62, started taking the ferry regularly to his engineering job in Manhattan only in the past few weeks. Aside from enjoying the scenic ride, the small group of regular commuters formed a tight bond, he said.

“I should have been doing this for two months,” DelGatto, of East Williston, said. “Everyone has lots of camaraderie. We even had an end-of-summer party last night.”

Glen Cove officials have said they viewed this summer as a test to gauge the feasibility of running regular service from the terminal. Several riders on Friday’s ferry said they had shown up at 6:35 a.m. to help convince the MTA and city to establish regular service.

Suzanne Anderson, 48, of Glen Cove, works for the Glen Cove school district but joked that she’d gladly take a job in Manhattan if it meant she got to take the ferry.

She and friends Audrey Maher, 58, and Ann Cappiello, 50, both of Glen Cove, decided to go into Manhattan for the day on the last ferry.

“There’s a big difference between getting off the ferry in fresh air and getting off the train at Penn Station,” Anderson said. “If I was going into the city to see a show and get dinner, I’d be on this boat.”

The last ferry is scheduled to leave 34th Street at 6:20 p.m., arriving in Glen Cove at 7:30 p.m.

With Alfonso A. Castillo

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