Strike Threat Impacts Rockaway Commuters
At press time on Thursday it was uncertain as to whether or not there would be a strike of transit workers against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), but Rockaway commuters are already gearing up for the hardships and travel problems that such a strike would bring.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU), whose contract expires on Sunday, has authorized a strike as early as Monday if a deal is not reached.
If that happens, the Monday morning commute could be a difficult one for Rockaway commuters.
"It is difficult and time consuming to get to Manhattan from Rockaway each day under the best of circumstances," Jean Randofore, a regular commuter standing outside the Beach 116 Street subway station told The Wave. "I can’t imagine what it will be like if there is a strike."
While Mayor Mike Bloomberg has urged residents to use bicycles, dollar vans and even ferries to get to work, none of those options seem to be viable alternatives for Rockaway commuters.
There are some possibilities, however, that would make the commute to Manhattan smoother for Rockaway residents.
The Green Bus Line told The Wave on Wednesday that it would run extra express buses between the peninsula and Manhattan in the event of a strike. While the company spokesperson would not discuss specific schedules for the extra buses, she did say that they would run both in the morning and evening rush hour periods and that they would run from their traditional pick-up locations.
The Long Island Railroad will continue to run trains to Manhattan from its Far Rockaway terminus. The trains are expected to run on a 15-20 minute schedule with "long lines and delays expected." No tickets will be sold on the train during the strike, so riders should be sure to pick up tickets in the ticket office prior to boarding. In Manhattan, tickets can be purchased for the Rockaway line at the taxi area under Madison Square Garden, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Metrocards will not be accepted.
Several local independent bus companies are expected to offer service during the strike as well. Their advertisements can be found in this issue of The Wave.
In the event of a strike, private vehicles with fewer than four passengers will be prohibited from entering or leaving Manhattan south of 96 Street 24-hours-a-day on weekdays. This restriction is designed for the bridges and tunnels tying Manhattan to the other boroughs and does not include the two bridges that impact Rockaway travel – The Cross Bay Bridge and the Gil Hodges Memorial Marine Parkway Bridge. There are no restrictions on those bridges, according to TBTA officials who contacted The Wave.
There will be a number of ad-hoc assembly areas for those who want to form car pools.
The nearest such areas to Rockaway are at the Riis Park parking lot, the JFK Airport Long Term Parking Area (Lefferts Boulevard and the South Conduit) and at Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows.