A Ferry Good Option For Commuters
“There’s no other travel experience like it” – that’s the view of Samantha Dawson; passenger and daily commuter on the new Seastreak ferry service from Rockaway to Manhattan. The new transport link to the city has provided locals with a new and viable alternative to the out-of-action A-train. As The Wave’s newest intern, this gave me the ideal opportunity to investigate the new addition to the areas transport links and to interact with locals. People of Rockaway and surrounding areas have had to adjust to the hand that Sandy has dealt them. The loss of family vehicles, bus disruption and the unavailability of the A-train has forced many to search for alternative solutions. Mayor Bloomberg, along with the Economic Development Corporation and Seastreak announced in early November that this service would be the ideal service to accommodate those affected by recent events. The federally subsidized partnership with Seastreak began its operations in Rockaway on November 12th. The Mayor announced it to be a “temporary solution” while local subway services remain suspended.
Five ferries which depart before 9:30 a.m., and have a travel time of approximately 50 minutes to Pier 11/Wall Street, cater primarily to early morning, 9 to 5, Manhattan bound commuters. The service also offers a free transfer to the East 34th Street port and walking distance to the 2, 3, A, C, J, R and Z trains. Return ferries commence at 2:45 p.m. and end at 7:30 p.m. Free parking is available for Rockaway residents at Beach Channel Drive, located beside the Rockaway ferry dock on Beach 108th Street.
Upon boarding, passengers have the ability to sit in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere, avail themselves of spacious surroundings and enjoy morning coffee and snacks that can be purchased on board. Passengers can choose between desk seating or take a window seat to view the sights the Seastreak experience has to offer. On board, people are free to roam the passenger cabin and have access to a lavatory – a mini perk appreciated by passengers who’d have no such option on the Atrain.
The majority of early morning passengers are employed in the financial district of Manhattan – many of whom expressed significant satisfaction at the location to which the ferry arrives. Other passengers included construction workers, students and even early morning shoppers preparing for the Superbowl weekends festivities. From a personal perspective I found the ferry itself a less stressful form of transportation than that of others. The general consensus felt among passengers is that no other form of transport can offer the stress free, comfortable and on-time travel associated with Seastreak.
Another huge plus to customers is the low cost. Although a new travel alternative has been created, sufferers of Sandy are not asked to pay the financial burden. Passengers can travel one way for $2 – cheaper than a one way train ride and payable as you board. Ten trip tickets can also be purchased while children under 12 can also ride free. Passengers also wishing to bring their bike on board can do so for an additional charge of $5.
Evening travelers can even enjoy a beer ($4) or glass of wine ($5) sold on board. Passengers happy with the new service provided by Seastreak raised concerns such as the irregularity of the service and having to leave considerably earlier for work to catch a ferry to be on time for work. Also concerning passengers was that the reintroduction of the A-Train service, once repaired, would bring about an end to the service. Brett Chamberlain, assistant operations manager at Seastreak stated that keeping the Rockaway Seastreak service was a matter for the City of New York and is “out of their hands.” As stated, the ferry itself is federally subsidized and a decision to keep the ferry service will be based on passenger numbers and performance on all sides of the temporary agreement willing to continue the service. In the mean time Chamberlain and Seastreak are “happy to help locals during the recovery time of Sandy and the service will continue for now.” It seems Rockaway has found a real alternative to car, bus and rail travel and would be a great constant addition to Rockaway. Certainly from speaking to passengers the decision to keep the ferry service would be a welcome one. Further information on the Seastreak services and all travel details can be found on the ferries easy-to-use website at www.seastreakusa.com.