No Way Out - Literally, Of Our Horrid Transport System
Sometimes it seems all my conversations are about commuting woes, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Most people can commiserate with me. Lately, though, there have been a few who simply don't get it. "Oh," they say, "it's not so bad." They shrug their shoulders and look at me like I'm some complete malcontent who is just looking for something to complain about. I mean, what about the ferry?
Yeah, well, what about it? Rockaway's commuter problems are far from solved with it. All my life I've heard about this thing and how when it finally came, everything would be great. Between that and the oftdreamed about Olympic size pool, it seemed the cure to every Rockaway woe could be found in water - either through the clear, chlorine-y lanes or the choppy, murky bay. And look, we finally have one of them, so problems solved, right? Not so fast. This ferry doesn't even begin to fix what ails us in terms of transportation, and I don't know how it ever could. Besides the fact that the hours of operation are ridiculous, it just can't properly serve the greater Rockaway community the way improved service on what we already have (the A train, Express Buses, the Q35 and the Q53) can.
Occasionally I work, usually in Midtown. My hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. - not necessarily irregular hours, although with the ferry schedule, they certainly seem that way. Let's say I do decide to take the ferry one morning; maybe on a day I'm feeling particularly adventurous. This is especially stupid, considering the last ferry runs at 7:30. But let's just pretend I feel like getting to work a few hours before I'm paid to be there. To get to the ferry, I'd have to take the Q22, pay $2.00 and then pay $6.00 to board the boat. By the time it finally reaches Manhattan, that free transfer has expired, and I have to pay another $2.00 to continue my journey uptown which is another 20 minutes or so underground. This brings my total commuting time to around an hour and 45 minutes, all because I chose to live out some Whitmanesque "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" fantasy and take the scenic route. I think, at that point, I'd rather had taken the A, which is saying a lot. How does the ferry service anyone not working in Lower Manhattan, between the hours of eight and five? I'd rather leave the scenic boat rides for a Saturday afternoon or fishing.
Why not have more buses - both express and regular, running at more frequent times? Or have more Rockaway Park A Express trains, both earlier and later than what is deemed rush hour? Last week I waited at the Q35 stop at Myrtle and Woodhaven for an hour and a half. I sat under the bus shelter as five Howard Beach Q11's came, watching and waiting as I continued to get passed by, something I thought (as I grew increasingly angry and cranky) is the perfect metaphor for Rockaway in itself. When the bus finally came it was full of bitter people just like me, whose transfers had expired and who were sick and tired of the terrible service. I'd be lying if I said the grousing and the commiserating didn't make me feel like I was finally on my way home. When it comes to getting to and getting out of here, Rockaway seems stuck in it's misery, a state of mind we are all familiar with. It may seem as though the ferry has brought a tiny sliver of hope, but we're certainly not out of it yet.