2004-08-27 / Editorial/Opinion

Weiner Whips Up A New Ferry Tale

Congressman Anthony Weiner stood at Riis Landing last week and spun a Ferry Tale that would have made the Brothers Grimm proud. Weiner, who represents the west end of Rockaway and a good chunk of the Brooklyn waterfront, announced that he had placed $15 million in the proposed Federal Transit Bill, money that will allow for the purchase of three high-speed ferry boats to facilitate the long-awaited commuter ferry from Rockaway to Manhattan, with short stops in Brooklyn. Those who see a cheap, high-speed ferry to Manhattan as the next necessary step in revitalizing the peninsula cheered. They failed, however, to read the small print, some issues that Weiner touched on in passing but did not dwell on in his announcement. Those who can't wait for the 35-minute ferry ride should read that fine print before rushing to Riis Landing to get aboard. First of all, President Bush has threatened to veto the transit bill because it includes too many expensive projects such as the Rockaway ferry boats. That would stop the ferry proposal dead in its tracks. Even if the president somehow signs the bill, the city would have to provide not only 20 percent of the $18.5 million cost of the boats, but would also have to spend somewhere in the vicinity of $16 million in yearly subsidies to keep the service affordable and running. There are many, including The Wave, who do not believe that the city will provide the necessary funds should the federal bill pass. The city's attitude towards a commuter ferry service for Rockaway can best be seen in a comment from Kay Sarlin, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Transportation. "We certainly appreciate everything that Congressman Weiner is doing to bring ferry service to Rockaway, she said. "We hope he will also try to secure the $10 to $16 million in operating subsidies that would be necessary to provide the service." That about sums up the end to this ferry tale and nobody in Rockaway is going to be sailing happily ever after anytime soon.

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