2001-04-14 / Front Page

Ferry Issue is Good News,

Ferry Issue is Good News,

Bad News For Rockaway

By Howard Schwach

Ferry Service between the newly-renovated piers at the old Coast Guard station at Breezy Point and Wall Street in Manhattan will begin on June 1, according to officials of a Connecticut ferry Company. That is the good news. Unless some government body comes up with a subsidy and does it quickly, the inaugural service will cost approximately $13 for a one-way ride. That is the bad news, and there are many in the Rockaway community who believe that the service will never be viable if it is far beyond the means of those who would use it on a daily basis.

"What a waste of time, Vince Castallano, the chair for Community Board 14" Transportation Committee, told reporters. "That’s foolish. I think that $13 one way is the definition of not economically viable. I don’t think that this is a plan that is going to work."

"The ferry might do things for the West end," Warren Weiner, the co-chair of the Rockaway coalition for Transportation, says. "The rest of us will have to add $3 to the cost of the trip just getting to the ferry landing." It is not helping my community (Bayswater), but the subsidy might make things much better."

Others are more optimistic about making the plan work.

Representative Anthony Weiner, who was responsible for getting the funding to rebuild the Riis Park landing, thinks that the feds have now done their job and that it is time for the city to kick in its share.

"We’ve done the hard part," Weiner says. "Now the ball is in the city’s court."

It is not clear, however, that the city wants to play.

Noach Dear, the chairman of the City council’s transportation committee, has said in the past that it is up to the Federal Government to supply the needed subsidy.

His spokesperson Joanne Ariola (who is running for the City Council seat being vacated by Al Stabile), told reporters that Dear needs other local politicians to back the subsidy before he can get involved in the program.

"He’s willing to put it all together, to be the catalyst to get the job done," Ariola says.

The ferry service that will begin in June will run a 125-seat high speed ferry twice a day from Riis Park to Pier 11 in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. The one-way trip is expected to take 25 to 30 minutes, shaving at least 40 minutes off the time it takes the A Train to make a similar trip.

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