2007-05-11 / Editorial/Opinion


The Latest Installment Of The 'Rockaway Ferry Tale'

Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood on the Boardwalk at Beach 126 Street on Tuesday morning and spun out the latest installment of the ongoing Rockaway Ferry Tale. If you have lived in Rockaway for any length of time, you have heard that song before. "The ferry is coming, the ferry is coming." On Tuesday, Bloomberg announced that on Wednesday he was going to put out an official Request for Expression of Interest, what the insiders call an RFEI to plumb the interests of private ferry services to run a commuter service from Riis Landing in Breezy Point to downtown Manhattan and back each day. The three thousand pound gorilla in the story is, of course, how much it will cost to use the ferry service each day. Experts say that people will ride the service for about five bucks each way, the cost of the present express bus service provided by the MTA. Under questioning, one of the mayor's many minions said that the daily cost of commuter ferry service in the area varies from eight dollars a day to twenty-four dollars a day (from Westchester County to Manhattan). The mayor, breaking with long-held views, actually said that some sort of subsidy might be available, at least in the initial period. When he was asked about the subsidized Staten Island Ferry, he smiled and said that there were a lot more people in Staten Island. There are other questions as well that need to be answered. Will drivers from the east end of the peninsula find that they have to add the cost of parking at Riis Landing to the daily nut? Will a second stop in midtown Manhattan be added if the need arises? Will people use the ferry out into the open waters of New York Harbor in bad weather? The mayor said that those are all questions for the private operator to address. In addition, there are questions such as wouldn't the money be better spent on increased subway service, a Super-A Train, or on express buses? The mayor said that those are questions for other city agencies. The announcement of ferry service is a big story for Rockaway. The only question is, will that story be a news break or a fairy tale once again?

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