2001-04-28 / Editorial/Opinion

For Whom The Ferry Runs

For Whom The Ferry Runs

Noach Dear has told Rockaway residents to forget about any thought of a subsidy for the new ferry service that would run between Riis Park and Wall Street. Since Dear is the powerful chairperson of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, his pronouncement is tantamount to a death knell for Rockaway’s hope that a regularly scheduled, affordable ferry service to Manhattan would help to revitalize the peninsula and to draw those who work in Manhattan but hate to live there to instead live in Rockaway.

Without the city subsidy, the cost of a ride for those who would use the service regularly would range from $10 each way for those who would buy the tickets in bulk, to $13 each way for those who do not. That cost is prohibitive for most of those who live in Rockaway and work in Manhattan.

Dear seems not to care whether Rockaway commuters use the service at all. He points out that the federal government funded the new ferry landing at Riis Park not for Rockaway commuters, but for tourists who want to take day trips from Manhattan to Gateway National Park. While that was one of the reasons the landing was funded and built, the hope in Rockaway and the promise of those who funded the program was that the landing would be used for a commuter service as well.

Dear does not agree.

"To think of this as a commuter ferry is nonsense," Dear says. "While residents have the option of taking it to work, this was never meant to be a commuter ferry."

Dear knew from the beginning that the ferry was the last best hope for improving the lot of the Rockaway commuter. He says now that he believed all along that the Port Authority, an agency controlled not by the city but by the state, would come up with the subsidy money.

Perhaps the fact that he lost Rockaway in the last three elections had something to do with his decision. Perhaps he really believes that the ferry cannot be run profitably as a commuter ferry. In any case, he is wrong. Rockaway needs the commuter ferry as an impetus to revitalization. Staten Island residents who take the ferry from their island to Manhattan are subsidized. Why not Rockaway?

For whom the ferry runs? It does not run for thee.


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