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MTA: Scaled-back #summerofhell ferry, bus service in effect

The MTA has eliminated free ferry service between

The MTA has eliminated free ferry service between Long Island City and East 34th Street, effective Wednesday. June 29, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The Long Island Rail Road scaled back on Wednesday the ferry and bus service it added three weeks ago to help riders during the disruptions caused by track repairs by Amtrak at Penn Station.

The MTA, the railroad’s parent agency, decided last week to eliminate free ferry service between Long Island City and East 34th Street in Manhattan, effective Wednesday.

It also cut in half the number of buses carrying commuters between Manhattan and five Park & Ride locations on Long Island, also effective Wednesday.

Those buses will now leave on the hour from 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. instead of every half-hour, the agency said.

The MTA said not enough commuters were using the buses and ferries to justify the original schedules.

“After careful review we’re adjusting our schedule to reflect our customers’ preferences,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement last week.

The buses and ferries are part of a larger mitigation plan that included adding LIRR trains just outside the rush hours, adding cars to some trains, and giving riders incentives to avoid Penn.

LIRR commuters can still also use New York City Ferry services between Long Island City and Manhattan, but will not be able to transfer for free from the LIRR.

The elimination of the MTA’s Long Island City ferry also means the elimination of its free shuttle service between the LIRR’s Hunterspoint Avenue Station and the ferry terminal.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that he wants to make sure Amtrak gets its act together.

“We cannot go through this again,” Cuomo said at an unrelated news conference at Jones Beach. “We shouldn’t have been here in the first place.”

Cuomo said his conversations with Penn Station commuters revealed reactions ranging from “it’s a little bit inconvenient to it’s not been dramatically different. . . . Also the ridership has been very helpful.”

The governor also cited the discount tickets enticing riders to use alternate stations such as Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Hunterspoint Avenue. Adding westbound trains for commuters, ferries and buses has been helpful but expensive, Cuomo said.

If Amtrak misses its September deadline to complete Penn Station repairs, “it could be problematic,” Cuomo warned. “It has not yet turned into a summer of hell. I don’t want to jinx us; it’s not over yet.”

With Joan Gralla and William Murphy

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