Ferry Heads To Rockaway?
In a much anticipated announcement, Congressman Anthony Weiner and officials from Gateway National Recreation Area opened the Riis Ferry Landing last week. The landing, located at the old Coast Guard station in Rockaway Point, was constructed as a means of receiving ferries operating routes between the Rockaway peninsula and points throughout New York City.
Many agree that the Rockaways have long been in need of ferry service to bring commuters and beach and park-goers to and from Manhattan and other areas in New York City. After months of negotiations, Congressman Weiner and National Park Service officials were able to secure an agreement with the Coast Guard to make renovations to the Riis Park station that will allow it to accommodate ferry service providers. On Friday, September 8, the landing was officially opened for business.
The opening of Riis Landing is being lauded by the community as a major step in bring ferry service to the Rockaways, providing the infrastructure needed to entice ferry operators to tap into the market of Rockawayites whose transportation needs are currently unmet.
Twenty-five ferry operators were notified of the new landing, with 10 in the process of submitting applications. They are Sea Streak America, Empire Water Link, The SOLE Group, Circle Line, Fox Navigation, Elsie K. Princess, New York Waterway and River Rose Cruises.
Ferry service operators have 45 days from September 8, 2000 to submit applications for ferry service out of Riis Landing. A ferry operator will be chosen in January, with service to commence as soon as possible thereafter. Ferry service is expected to be running out of Riis Landing by springtime.
Applications submitted propose routes to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and locations around Jamaica Bay. Popular commuter routes will be given preference in the consideration of applications.
"If we build it, they will come," Weiner said. "I’ve always believed that if we could get past the infrastructural obstacles keeping ferry service from becoming a reality in the Rockaways, that ferry operators would soon follow. We’ve already got 10 applications, and more are on the way. Rockaway residents deserve a real transportation alternative that serves both the beautiful beaches and parks of the area, but also makes life easier for commuters. Finding a ferry operator to address both needs will be my top priority as we review the candidates."
No fee structure has yet been discussed with the ferry operators. The early stage of ferry service to and from Riis Landing will serve as an important indicator of market interest in this type of transportation. Subsidies, if needed, will be sought and pursued once an operator and route are in place. Weiner promised that "every effort will be made to keep the costs as low as possible."
A Sea Streak America, Inc., ferry was on hand Friday to take officials and residents for a trial run from Rockaway’s Riis Landing to Pier 11 at South Street Seaport and back to Riis Landing. The ride took 32 minutes each way, traveling at approximately 35 miles an hour.
Ferry service operators’ applications can be sent to the office of Congressman Anthony Weiner, 1901 Emmons avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11235.