2004-12-17 / Editorial/Opinion

Perhaps The End Of The Rockaway Ferry Tale

Thanks to Congressman Anthony Weiner, Rockaway has a state-of-the art ferry terminal at Riis Landing. Weiner has also funded some seed money for a commuter ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan, dependant on Mayor Bloomberg kicking in the city’s share to make the service a reality. Unfortunately for Rockaway commuters, with ferry services sinking all over the map, the mayor has indicated that subsidies for even existing ferry services is not only on the back burner, it is off the stove entirely. “We are not going to subsidize the ferries,” Bloomberg said last week, in response to the crisis exacerbated by the demise of New York Waterway. “That’s not a business we will get into – period. End of story!” Was that an ambiguous statement? We do not think so, and we think it is time to become realistic and to rethink our transportation priorities. With the influx of middle class families coming to live in Arverne By The Sea and other developments, our commuter transportation facilities will need upgrading across the board. To our way of thinking, that means not a commuter ferry, but improved subway service on the A line and an increase in commuter bus service to Manhattan. Neither subways nor express buses are as “sexy” as commuter ferries, but they are much more realistic and much more doable than the waterborne community will ever be. The money and energy being put into the ferry question should be redirected, if possible, to the other two priorities. Rockaway will sell its middle class housing only if there is a quick, safe and affordable means of getting to Manhattan, only 25 miles away in distance, but more than an hour in actual travel time. The problem might even be exacerbated by the city’s takeover of the bus lines that now provide the express service. A number of locals have reported that the bus drivers on those lines are telling them that the service will end when the city takes over. We cannot allow that to happen. It is up to our city and state officials to see that there are more transportation alternatives, not less in the coming decade. The end of the ferry tale does not have to mean the end of Rockaway’s revitalization.

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