2001-04-28 / Front Page

Dear to Rockaway:

Dear to Rockaway:

No Subsidy!

By Howard Schwach

Noach Dear, the powerful chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee has told Rockaway that there will be no city subsidy for its impending ferry service.

Dear, who told The Wave that the ferry service was designed for tourists, not commuters, said, "To think of this as a commuter ferry is nonsense."

He added that residents could cut three dollars a day off the cost of a one-way ride by buying tickets in bulk, but that there would be no city subsidy because the ferry is not a commuter operation.

"While residents have the option of taking it to work, this was never meant to be a commuter ferry," Dear said.

Dear pointed out that Gateway National Park and the National Park Service had funded the new ferry landing to bring tourists to Gateway National Park, a park that he termed "a nontraditional tourist area."

Representative Anthony Weiner, who lobbied for and received the Federal funds to build the new ferry landing at Riis Park, told The Wave just a week ago that the federal government had done its part by building the ferry landing and that the question of subsidies was now up to the city – and to Dear’s committee.

Dear, however, says that the city has no ferry but the Staten Island Ferry and that he nor anybody else in the city had the authority to start a ferry service and to fund it.

"If it is going to be a commuter ferry, then it is up to the Port Authority or some other state or federal agency to fund it," he said. "The city cannot authorize a commuter ferry service that does not exist."

Dear added that he had previously backed the commuter ferry service because he "thought that the Port Authority would come through with the money to subsidize it."

That did not happen, and Dear blames local state and federal politicians for that fact.

"There are lots of federal and state politicians who represent Rockaway and who have been around for a long time. Residents should be asking them why the ferry service is not subsidized," he said.

Joanne Ariola, a spokesperson for Councilman Dear added that the subsidy might be assisted by the city should the state and federal government initiate a funding line for that subsidy.

"We really all have to work together to get this done," Ariola told The Wave.

Dear’s comments were in response to a letter from Weiner and follow-up questions from The Wave. In that letter, the Congressman urged the city to take the burden off Rockaway commuters.

Weiner pointed out in the letter that other public transportation facilities in the city – including the Staten Island Ferry – received subsidies that reduced the amount charged for each ride.

Without city subsidies, the ride would cost commuters approximately $13 each way, a cost that many in Rockaway think is prohibitive.

"It might help the more affluent people but not the regular everyday people," John Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14 recently told reporters. "To pay $26 for a round trip is just too expensive."

The trip from Riis Park to Wall Street would take 25 minutes, almost an hour less than a similar trip on the A Train or on a commuter bus.

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