The Urgency Of Real Change
Remember those small subway tokens with the letter "Y" punched out in the center? Originally they cost 15 cents increasing to 20 cents some years later. Well, it used to take two of those suckers to get on the subway at Beach 116 Street and ride to Manhattan. We were referred to as a two fare zone. How fair was that, Rockawayites being the only citizens of New York City to pay a double subway fare? As time passed, one fare was removed which equalized our subway travel with all the other boroughs in the City. Think of it. For a period of time we were actually the only New Yorkers stuck paying twice for a ride to Manhattan. Guess what? We'll be doing it again with a twist.
Everybody out here knows we were the only New Yorkers to pay for an intra-borough ride from here to the mainland and visa versa. O.K. when it was a dime nobody thought much of the toll. However, as the toll increased and became such a burden especially for those having to take multiple crossings daily, politicians, private citizens and a pro bono attorney argued our plight loud and long enough that the Cross Bay Bridge toll became a thing of the past.
It is hardly news that residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel will be burdened once again when the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge is restored. The decision that got the toll removed was based on the fact that the bridge was the only bridge in the city connecting two parts of the same borough. Is that not true now? The fact that the City needs the money does not preclude the fact that we will be taxed (tolled) once again for driving to Queens from Queens. Add to the CB toll the proposed toll on, now and always free, East River bridges; it is our drivers who will be incurring a double fare (toll). And, the fact that this time it's the drivers who will be shouldering the burden creates the twist. In addition, if the Mayor should get his congestion pricing brainchild enacted, it would make us the only City vehicular commuters to be taxed three times on a ride into
Letters Manhattan. Oh, our Mayor will do anything to get us to ride the subway because he resents having vehicles in his front and backyard. The closing of Broadway for seven blocks in midtown proves this mayor harbors only distain for drivers in His City. Truthfully, for those who live a half hour or less from their Manhattan destinations and do not have to change trains, like the Mayor on his way to work, subway travel is acceptable. Our Mayor takes a mere fifteen minute subway ride to work in the morning and boasts, "If I can do it you can do it." Well, let him ride to Manhattan daily on our subway adventure for a few weeks and see if he doesn't have renewed respect for Rockaway commuters.
For the past 20 years I have suggested our politicians institute a Park 'n Ride (P n' R) from Riis Park Parking Lot into Manhattan. I have suggested this to Joe Addabbo, Anthony Weiner, Al Stabile and anyone within the sound of my voice. With the increased burden of two new impending tolls, P n' R must become a reality. Four buses per hour should alternate uptown and downtown during rush hours with two buses an hour on the off times. To save money and pollution, mini buses should be used from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. All bus schedules should be subject to adjustments reflecting ridership. And, since Riis Park parking is free except for the summers when a $40 permit will gain parkers access, the commute will be affordable. Weather will never be a factor as it might with ferries and waiting commuters can be comfortable inside their own cars.
Our Mayor will be here for the parade. Standing on the parade route with signs reading TWO FARES UNFAIR, or TAKE THE A TRAIN AND SHOVE IT! Or WHERE IS OUR PARK 'N RIDE? might give Newport Avenue the luster it needs and send a message to the Grand Marshal (O'Bloomberg) as well. That message is, if you are taking away our freedoms why not do the right thing for our ecology, our pocketbooks and Manhattan congestion and give us the Park'n Ride we so richly deserve.