2010-06-11 / Letters

Support The Rockaway Ferry

Dear Editor,

I am writing in support of the Rockaway Ferry service which benefits our city both environmentally and economically. It reduces carbon emissions and alleviates traffic congestion. Simultaneously, ferry service saves commuters travel time and contributes to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Waterfront and the Rockaways by making it more accessible to residents of other neighborhoods.

In addition to the environmental and economic benefits, the Rockaway Ferry provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience the New York City waterfront up close. While thousands of us New Yorkers get to see the rivers each day from the windows of our cars, subways or homes, few, if any, get to truly experience its benefits and beauty first-hand. No other form of commuting – whether public or private – is as enjoyable as the ferry. It’s summer now, and the ferry brings many people to Riis Park, Gateway, and the Rockaway beaches.

The Ferry also plays a vital role in the emergency evacuation plan for the community. In the event of a hurricane, another terrorist attack, or any other disaster or emergency situation, travel by water will become necessary to evacuate residents, and the Ferry will play a major role as it has on numerous occasions in recent memory. Losing the Ferry will jeopardize the safety of the community and we cannot allow that to happen.

As we all know, the Rockaways have long been starved for adequate public transportation. Since May 2008, the ferry has made great strides in meeting this need. It has proven to be vital to our community. Other mass transportation options from this area are limited to non-existent, and to the extent that they do exist, are all unreliable and unsafe. Although the three communities on the west end of the Rockaway Peninsula save the City significantly more than $2.5 million per year by providing their own vital services (fire, ambulance, police, sanitation, lifeguards, etc.), the Rockaways continue to be hit where it hurts more than any other neighborhood by City funding cutbacks. The bridge tolls are rising, our children are losing yellow school bus service, and the ferry that has been a success in providing a transportation lifeline to residents of our Peninsula is in jeopardy.

Ferry service to Manhattan also directly improves the quality of life of many Brooklynites and Rockaway residents who make the long journey to Manhattan for work. his service saves the average commuter 35 minutes or more each way, or at least five hours of commuting time in just one week. If you calculate the savings in a year, the amount of time saved is enormous.

The Rockaway Ferry has enhanced our infrastructure, opened up our waterfronts and created jobs. We have reclaimed the City’s waterways, our lost natural resource. Now is not the time to go back on years of progress. It took over 18 years to get this ferry for our transportation-starved Peninsula, and if we lose it now, we’ll never get it back.

To date, almost 600 people have supported the ferry by participating in a community survey, suggesting ways to improve service by putting a metrocard reader on the boat, making more runs, and other ways to serve the entire Peninsula. With the new “smartcard” transit program, there surely are spare unused metrocard readers that could be put to good use on the ferry. The ferry is not perfect, but it can’t be improved if it stops running.

We expect your support for the continued funding of the Rockaway Ferry service. It must continue to run.

ELLEN MCCARTHY

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