Bus Service Begins Monday, Looking To Expand
Michael Geller is not really sure what he faces on Monday, September 8 when the first unsubsidized private bus service begins to travel between Rockaway and Manhattan.
Geller, the spokesperson for Carson Tours, told The Wave, "there will be either three people waiting for our buses on Monday morning or 600. I am not sure which it will be, although judging from the phone calls we have received since our ad ran last week, we expect to use all of our buses."
Carson Buses, which seat an average of 50 passengers, will begin its run at Beach 118 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard at 6:15 a.m. each weekday. The buses will move west from that spot to stop at a number of other Rockaway streets (the final Rockaway stop is at Breezy Point) before traveling over the Marine Parkway Bridge and up Flatbush Avenue. The buses, which are expected to reach their first stops in Manhattan at 7:30 a.m., will make a number of Manhattan stops, beginning with Church Street and Liberty Street and ending at West 57 Street and Sixth Avenue. The second bus of the morning will follow the same route at 6:45 a.m. The buses will make the return trip beginning at 4:30 p.m. The last bus will leave Manhattan at 5:15 p.m.
Geller, however, is not sure that the present runs are the company’s ultimate aim.
"We are talking to the people at Gateway," Geller says. "We hope to start a Park and Ride site at the Riis Park parking lot that would allow us to cut 20 minutes off the trip by having all of the riders come to us rather than the opposite."
"That is a perfect site for us," he added. "It is a large, secure lot that is free in the winter and inexpensive in the summer."
Would people come to Riis Park to ride to Manhattan in comfort?
"I guess it’s a toss-up," Geller agreed, adding that the response to the new service has been "amazing."
"Our phones have been ringing off the hook and it hasn’t stopped for a minute," he added.
Geller says that he had received lots of calls from residents of Dayton and Surfside, asking for a service that would begin farther east on the peninsula than Beach 118 Street.
He says that if an organization can set up a program to get riders from that area, he would be glad to provide the buses for a direct route to Manhattan from that housing area.
The same, he says, hold true for Far Rockaways communities at the far eastern end of the peninsula.
Geller says that there are a number of discount programs. Senior citizen’s get an automatic 50 percent discount. Younger riders can purchase a ten-trip coupon for $40, making each ride $4 rather than the $5 that a trip now costs.
"Buses are a cheap commodity," he concludes. "We can get as many as the market demands."
As for Monday, he hopes for the best and fears the worst, that nobody will show. He is confident, however, that will not happen.
"Our service is necessary," he adds. Otherwise we would not be offering it to the Rockaway public."