Superstorm Sandy

The Seastreak New York to the Seastreak Martha’s Vineyard to the Rockaways. Back via the H Train to the Shuttle Bus to the A Train

Today I awoke to a nice Spring Day and a presentation to work on for my internship with the Brooklyn Waterfront Research Center. What a better way to do both of these things and get some more H train photos and then a $2 ride on the temporary Rockaways Ferry. I’ve ridden the ferry twice before, once a week after it and the R32 H train had started (coming back form the Rockaways in the dark) and on a cold day in January where I nearly froze on deck going down to the Rockaways getting photos. On that trip I was surprised to find the R32s replaced by R46s (according to this YouTube Video) from December 21 to 24 the R32s were swapped out for R46s because of an issue of a possible third rail gap on the tracks near hammels wye. This also provided the advantage of the trains now running OPTO (anyway I’m working on a full Rockaway’s upload soon)  with photos. This post is mainly designed to be a Superstorm Sandy Transit Adventure post on riding the ferry to the Rockaways and the Shuttle Bus to the A train back (taking about an hour longer, not including the time it took to go up and down the peninsula).

I left the house a little later then I meant to and I was on the A train at 2:00. I got to 42 Street at  2:23. It was a quick dash through the 41 Street tunnel and I got down to the 7 train platform with just enough time to walk up to the car front at 2:27. I get off at Grand Central at 2:29 and go up the escalator to the 3rd Avenue exit.

I have a quick walk to the East 35th Street ferry terminal. The Rockaway Ferry does make reverse peak trips but these don’t connect with boats up to East 35th Street that you can connect to for free. At 2:42 I’m walking down the gangway to the bow of the Seastreak New York. It’s one of Seastreak’s larger boats that run in their normal, for profit service to and from Conner’s Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. I head up to the second inclosed deck. These boats are absolutely huge. The third and upper sun deck closed so I’m stuck grabbing an outdoor seat on the bow, we leave at 2:45 and I get some Brooklyn Waterfront photos as we zoom down the middle of the East River.
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As we approach Pier 11 (just south of the Brooklyn Bridge), they announce all Rockaway-bound passengers are to transfer to the ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ across the dock with boarding from the stern door.  I go outside and am told to step back inside for docking from the rear door. We arrive at 2:57.
I walk by the long line of mainly well dressed Jersey-bound businesspeople across Pier 11 and hand my $2 to a women at the entrance to the dock for the Rockaways. I receive a ticket. I walk up the gangway and hand the ticket I just recieved to another women and board the ferry walking up the bow again. I head up to the crowded upper deck, at 3:04 we get a toot and pull out. The occupants of this boat include quite a few schoolchildren who mainly seem to be occupying the upper deck, there also more normal people, the occupants feel like your average subway car, not the rich executive types aboard the much more expensive Jersey-bound Seastreak New York The ferry backs out of the dock and we head towards New York Bay. We head into Buttermilk Cannel (between Brooklyn and Governor’s Island) and slow down for a barge
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We pick up speed and head through Upper New York Bay, the skyline of Manhattan fades off into the distance and as we approach the narrows and show parkway I’m surprised to see this boat, the Block Island Hi-Speed Ferry’s boat Athena (I later Google it and find out that New York Waterway leases the boat off season and has for years).
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We go under the Verrizano Narrows and into Lower New York Bay, we basically enter the Atlantic Ocean going around Sea Gate at the eastern end of Coney Island. At this point the breeze has really picked up as we move fast on this small catamaran this makes the water quite choppy and I find myself covered in Salt Water including my camera, I retreat to the small upper cabin to dry off and miss the shots of Coney Island from the water I’m looking forward to getting.
We pass the end of Breezy Point (the trip of Queens) and head into Jamaica Bay going under the Marine Parkway Bridge. We pass the various islands of Marsy Jamaica Bay before turning inland to the extremely temporary dock, are arrival is at 3:50 (less than 50 minutes after leaving Manhattan, you can’t drive that fast!). I snap some more photos of the temporary dock getting off.
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I leave the temporary Rockaway Park Ferry dock and start walking to the subway. I walk up the steps at Beach 98 Street that seems to now lack any signage that the station is closed. The doors into the vestibule are locked, the lights are on. I guess I can’t come here to buy a MetroCard either. I keep walking down the Rockaway Freeway that basically lacks a sidewalk.
I enter at Beach 90th Street where all H Trains are terminating on the north Manhattan-bound track. The Rockaway Park-bound platform is taped off. An H Train is in the station, on layover, only single doors open. I board and soon the 4 car train leaves. We single track switching over to the normal Rockaway Parkway-bound track before crossing over the single track Hammel’s Wye that takes us on the third track formed by the two main tracks (that are still closed) that normally take A and Rockaway Park Shuttle trains over to the southern Jamaica Bay swing bridge. I need photos of the artwork installed in 2010-2011 before Sandy at all the stops except Beach 67th Street. This plan I realize (knowing the simple operation plan of the H shuttle using 12 cars and three trainsets is perfect for double-backing)
I first get off at Beach 44th Street and have a decently long layover before double-backing to Beach 60th Street. There I get my few photos before the next Far Rockaway-bound H train arrives. I head to Beach 25th Street, and have a relatively quick layover before going back to the last stop I need of Beach 36th Street. I then proceed out to Far Rockaway, at that point its 5:00pm and I remember the other item on my to-do list for this area, getting the LIRR stations at Far Rockaway  and Inwood (just in Nassau County.)
I walk up to the Far Rockaway LIRR station and start getting a photo essay of its island platform with a single entrance along the bumper blocks. I walk up to Inwood, nestled beneath NY-878, the Nassau Expressway (a wide divided highway with traffic lights) that the Shuttle Buses use to start their trips to Howard Beach. I get my photo essay and head over to Central Avenue where a bunch of Shuttle Buses Pass (but run non-stop. I feel a bit silly, realizing I will be passing this very spot on the Shuttle bus after I walk back to Mott Avenue). I look for an N31 or N32 (buses that would take me to Mott Avenue to the Shuttle Bus to the A train). I walk back by the Far Rockaway LIRR station and go back up to the platform when I notice its a slightly rare situation of no train in the station, I walk back up to the platform for some more photos.
I head back to the Mott Avenue bus loop and at 6:11 I’m the last to board a Howard Beach-bound shuttle bus. As we leave Far Rockaway I see a QM17 express bus stopping, discharging its last passengers and setting its destination sign to Not In Service.
  • 6:17 – reach Nassau County and the intersection where I when I was in Inwood. See a line of 3 buses going the otherway. The Rockaway-bound buses bunch for good reason. They leave when an A train arrives.
  • 6:19 – that light took a while to turn left onto the Nassau Expressway and I’m going over the Lawrence Station.
  • 6:28 – see a Livery Cab blow a tire out.
  • 6:29 – On the outskirts of JFK and AA cargo: Then onto North Conduit Avenue and under AirTrain.
  • 6:36 – Turn onto Lefferts Blvd into the airport. We go through a gate with a car protecting it (it moves out of the way) and to the drop-off area.
I get to Howard Beach and off the Shuttle Bus at 6:37 I get a few photos of the make shift entrance with MetroCard Van, an open gate and 3 temporary turnstiles. Sings say to go through the gate for AirTrain JFK (Either pay $7.50 or go up the other entrance and get on AirTrain for free). I swipe my MetroCard (one turnstile claims its a Turbo Turnstile). We then pass doors that say No Entry before I’m finally on the platform.
  • 6:50 – My A train leaves. We come to a stop at the edge of the airport where I see a Resorts World Casino bus and soon move again over the Belt Parkway. There is a bit of a crowd at this stop with a freshly painted concrete windscreen and all the ads for Resort World Casino. A bigger crowd then there used to be.
  • 6:55 – pass the closed Aquaduct Racetrack station with a new staircase, bridge and elevator up to the former platform. This stop I’m still mad at not visiting before resort world. We slowly curve onto the Liberty Avenue elevated. Time to read.
  • 7:27 – At Broadway-Nassau, excuse me Fulton Street. (A travel time of 1 hour and 20 minutes, the ferry was 30 minutes faster and much more relaxing)
  • 7:40 – 34th Street and 8th
I’m home at 8:00pm. Nearly 2 hours to get home. I can’t imagine being a daily Rockaway commuter (except for those who can ride the excellent ferry).