2001-12-22 / Editorial/Opinion

Budget Leaves Rockaway In The Cold

Budget Leaves Rockaway In The Cold

Way back before the summer began, before September 11, before Flight 587 skewered into Belle Harbor, there was a promise of a subsidized commuter ferry service from Riis Landing to Manhattan. With much fanfare, council transportation committee chairperson Noach Dear and our local politicians announced that $300 thousand in city money had been allocated for the ferry subsidy. A modified service was to begin in June. The summer passed without a ferry service. There were myriad explanations for the delay: It was tough to find the right kind of ferryboat; more subsidies were needed from the state and federal governments; city docking permits were needed and there were environmental considerations. Then came September 11 and everything was put on hold. In the interim, however, a number of ferry operators told Gateway that they would be willing to begin the service, with a round-trip fee of $5 with the subsidy. One of those companies applied to the city for docking rights. A process that should have taken a week or two dragged on and on. Now, we know why. Ordered to make cuts by the mayor, the Department of Transportation decided to make an easy cut. It cut our $300 thousand allocation. Without the subsidy, the ferry would cost its riders upwards of $20 a day, but that is not feasible. Those politicians who ballyhooed the $300 thousand subsidy in April should now go back and insure that the money is restored to the budget. The docking facilities are in place and an operator is ready, willing and able to begin the service immediately. The only thing that remains is for city to reinstate the subsidy that was originally put into the budget.

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