Transportation Is Key To Rockaway Revitalization
On January 28, 1954, fifty years ago this week, The Wave ran a front page story headlining the fact that the city’s mass transit system was to come to Rockaway within the coming years. Speaking at the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Park Inn Hotel on Beach 116 Street, Belle Harbor resident William Fullen, a member of the New York City Transportation Authority (NYCTA) said in 1954 that he expected that the coming of rapid transit to Rockaway would surely raise the population from the present 61,000 to more than 120,000 by 1960. "There will be an eight-car train running over Jamaica Bay every five minutes," Fullen predicted. Things have changed since 1954. The Park Inn Hotel is now a residence that brings horror to Beach 116 Street rather than pride. Our population has reached 110,000, but a building boom is underway that may well raise the population to 120,000 in a few years – only 45 years late. Trains no longer run over Jamaica Bay every five minutes. Riders are lucky if they get a 20-minute headway. One thing has not changed however. Rockaway’s fortunes still depend largely on a resident’s ability to get to a job off the peninsula, whether it be in Manhattan or at JFK Airport. We have called the Transit Authority many times to find out about an increase of service for Rockaway riders. We have been told time after time that nothing will be done until there is an increased ridership. We have argued that better service would bring an increased ridership. It has become of question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Now, with Arverne By the Sea a reality and with all of the other building on the peninsula, perhaps we will get the increased service that we so badly deserve. Just as it was when Fullen made his speech fifty years ago, transportation is the key to Rockaway’s future.