2001-04-21 / Front Page

Weiner: Ferry Success Up To Rockaway

Weiner: Ferry Success Up To Rockaway

By Howard Schwach

"The issue is clear," Congressman Anthony Weiner says. "The city has to step up and find a way to subsidize the Rockaway Ferry Service."

"It will be, when it opens next month" he adds, "the only unsubsidized urban mass transit system in the city, if not in the nation." Weiner pointed out that each ride on the city subway or the city buses is subsidized to the tune of $4.30.

"Why not the ferry," he asks, pointing out that this election season is perhaps the best time to put pressure on politicians who are running for an office to do what the community needs done.

"There are candidates for Mayor, for Borough President and for the City Council who can help Rockaway achieve a subsidy from the city," he says. "Rockaway has to show them what it is necessary for them to do."

The ferry service from the old Coast Guard Station at Riis Park will begin service next month with an initial unsubsidized cost of $13 each way."

Many of those who are involved with pushing the issue say that a ferry service cannot be successful if the charge is as high as $26 a day for a round trip. They point out that subsidies are necessary to get the cost down so that it rivals more traditional means of mass transit.

Weiner, who found the funds necessary to build the ferry terminal on National Park Service land, announced recently that parking would be free "for the time being," at the site. That would save ferry riders the $2 to $3 a day that was projected for parking on the site.

"Three things have to happen for any real subsidy to take place," Weiner told The Wave. "The mayor has to sign on, to state that the ferry project is an important one. Then, Noach Dear, the chair of the powerful City Council Transportation Committee, has to agree to bring it to the council. Third, and most important, the council has to allocate money for the subsidy."

"It is up to Rockaway to make the ferry a success," he says, "but it has to be up to the city to make sure it is not a failure."

He pointed out that people will ride the ferry at first because it is a novelty and because it will commuters take only 35 minutes to get to Lower Manhattan.

"They will become disenchanted by the price," he adds, "but I defy anybody who takes the ride to be happy about going back to the bus or the subway."

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