2001-06-16 / Editorial/Opinion

Open the Commuter Ferry Circle

It is clear that an alternative form of transportation to the A Train and express buses is necessary to satisfy Rockaway’s commuter needs. A commuter ferry from Rockaway to points in Manhattan is one solution that always seems to be just out of reach as witnessed by the latest fiasco with the ferry service that was slated to begin on June 1. That service was to run from Riis Landing at the old Coast Guard site to lower Manhattan. For a number of reasons, it is now on the back burner. One of those reasons is that the West End of Rockaway alone cannot financially support the infrastructure and operating costs of the ferry service. Why not then open a ferry circle that would most likely provide the ridership necessary to keep the ferry service economically viable. Start the ferry each day at Inwood. There was once a ferry that started from that point, but it made no other stops and was an anathema to environmentalists because of the speed it made through the bay and the damage it caused to seawalls along the bayfront. The Inwood stop would bring in riders from both the Five Towns and Bayswater-Far Rockaway. That is not an insignificant number of potential riders. From Inwood, the ferry would go to JFK Airport to pick up those travelers who do not want to use Airtrain and do not want the excitement of venturing on the Van Wyck Expressway. The next stop would be at Riis Landing on Rockaway’s West End. Free parking at the site would be an inducement for Rockaway commuters to use the service on a regular basis. The third stop should be in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn to pick up riders from the South Brooklyn area. The ferry would then proceed to stops at both Wall Street and West 34 Street (nearby the Intrepid Museum). That circle would bring in a sufficient number of riders so that the service could cost riders $10 for a round-trip ride each day. That circle is what Rockaway needs and planners should look and see if it is viable or not. The people on the peninsula need a transportation alternative and the circle might just be the element that will provide that alternative to Rockaway commuters.

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