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Last week there was considerable ebullience voiced by Red Hook residents who were taking full advantage of the free shuttle buses and Water Taxi service provide by IKEA. This weekend many were looking forward to “hacking” free Water Taxi to get to the food vendors’ first weekend back at the Red Hook ball fields. An IKEA rep even told the Daily News, “We are thrilled that we are providing free transit options for the people of New York to come to IKEA and to come to Red Hook. We support mass transit, and if people are using our services and not going to IKEA, that's fine with us as well."

Now Curbed is hearing some scuttlebutt about New York Water Taxi, finally fed up with the freeloaders, starting to charge people. Tipsters tell Curbed that the Water Taxi has started stamping the hands of IKEA shoppers, and anyone without a hand stamp or a receipt from the store has to pay $6. But a representative for Water Taxi tells us:

This isn’t true. The service is free. The demand for service has been so high, that IKEA has instituted an in store hand stamp for customers who traveled to the store via the free Water Taxi to insure that the customers they are providing the free Water Taxi shuttle for get first in line and get a seat on the Water Taxi to get back to Manhattan.

Got that? The rep also assures us that "as long as there is space on the Water Taxi after IKEA customers board it is open and free to everyone." At any rate, we're just glad someone got a photo of that sign, wherever it came from.

UPDATE: IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth called to emphasize that IKEA is not charging for the Water Taxi but that because of high demand "preference at peak times is being given to people coming from IKEA to get on the Water Taxi first. And since there's only one dock, we can't have multiple ships there at once." Roth added that IKEA is monitoring usage and may make changes to the free service after the summer, but at this time there are no plans to start charging for non-customers. And in case you were wondering, "that sign was not put up by IKEA or Water Taxi."