2002-03-23 / Front Page
Is Rockaway Next In Ferry Deal?
By Gary G. Toms
By Gary G. Toms
According to recent reports, the city is on the verge of launching more ferry service to lower sections of Manhattan, and ferry service to the Rockaways does not appear to be part of the plan. An increase in the number of boats and new routes will be announced sometime this month, which is sure to make things much easier for commuters from the downtown area, New Jersey, and sections of Queens.
The Wave contacted Councilman James Sanders, Jr., who represents the 31st Council manic district, and asked him how likely it was that Rockaway would benefit from these proposals.
"I'm struggling to insure Rockaway is not lost in choosing a site for the ferry. I don't know if I can get us in this round, but as I had promised my neighbors in the Rockaways, we will improve mass transit, and that includes ferry service," said Sanders.
Some of the proposals include:
More service along existing routes to downtown Manhattan from Hoboken, New Jersey to Jersey City.
Additional service with faster boats.
New, non-stop ferries from Hoboken
Ferries from Hunters Point in Long Island City, Queens.
Ferry service to midtown Manhattan from Long Island City was halted last year due to poor ridership, but many officials who support the plan believe that these latest efforts to revive the ferry service will increase interest among commuters traveling downtown.
More ferry stops are being considered for Battery Maritime Building, and larger ferry terminals are planned for the World Financial Center and Weehawken, New Jersey for new commuters.
"Providing greater frequency provides greater convenience," said NY Waterways President Arthur Imperatore, the area's biggest private ferry operator.
NY Waterways does not receive subsidies from the government, but sources indicate that a multi-agency task force is considering "revenue guarantees" to attract ferry service operators.
"The strategy is to decrease the commutes of lower Manhattan workers whose commutes have been lengthened, and to increase access to and within lower Manhattan," said Joseph Chen, a top aide to Daniel Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development.
Community Board 14 District Manager, Jonathan Gaska, is not as optimistic about the ferry services reaching Rockaway's shores.
"I know Councilmen Addabbo and Sanders have been trying to get back the $300,000 that was proposed for a ferry service, but I don't think it will happen. City Hall reps have always said that they were for Rockaway, but they never came through," said Gaska.
"They're good at talking the talk, but now it's time to walk the walk."
In a move that will surely raise the ire of many Rockaway residents, NY Waterways announced this passed Thursday that they would begin free ferry service between Hoboken, New Jersey and lower Manhattan all next week.
On April 1, fares from Hoboken to lower Manhattan will be three dollars per trip, or $80 dollar for a monthly pass.
The same day that NY Waterways made the announcement, Rockaway residents contacted The Wave to report that two ferries, operating under the Elsie K. Princess line, were seen in the waters of Jamaica Bay. The Wave contacted the Elsie K. Princess headquarters, in Manhattan, to try and find out why the ships were in the area.
"They were in Jamaica Bay because they were fishing," said Tom Paladino, owner of the Elsie K. Princess.
"They are ready to start service in the area, but we are awaiting subsidies," he continued.
At press time, Paladino noted that a meeting was taking place to discuss which direction they would go with regard to pursuing the possibilities of starting ferry service in the Rockaways.
"If we could start service immediately, the projected roundtrip fare would be $5, which would be great for the people of Rockaway," said the ferry owner.