The good news: Ferry service is coming back to Queens. The bad news: It won’t arrive until 2017.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday used a portion of his State of the City address to detail his administration’s plan for a Five-Borough Ferry System that will “knit together existing East River routes with new landings and services to Astoria, the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, Soundview and the Lower East Side.”
De Blasio indicated that a ride on the citywide ferry service will cost the same as a MetroCard fare. The transit option is set to launch in two years, and will be backed by city operating support and a $55 million capital commitment. Further expansion to Stapleton, Staten Island and Coney Island, Brooklyn will constitute a second phase of expansion, pending additional funding, de Blasio said.
“Beyond connecting residents to jobs in Manhattan, our new citywide ferry system will spur the development of new commercial corridors throughout the outer boroughs,” de Blasio noted from the lectern at Baruch College.
The Rockaway Ferry was established in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as a temporary transit solution while the MTA worked to fix affected south Queens subway lines. It was shut down last October.
Area elected officials praised de Blasio’s vision, but lamented the two-year lead time.
“I thank the mayor for recognizing the transportation needs of my constituents in the Rockaways and also for acknowledging the economic potential the Peninsula holds. I have said and will say again, a ferry service is the Rockaways’ most viable transportation option and can bring great economic advantages. Including the Rockaways as part of a citywide ferry system to me makes it a more secure service that will hopefully continue permanently,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said. “However, while I warmly welcome the announcement of this new system, my Rockaway constituents still need immediate help regarding transportation, perhaps by temporarily reinstating the former Rockaway ferry service or improving bus service. I look forward to immediately working with the mayor and his administration to ensure this system is effectively executed and to ultimately make the isolation of the Rockaways an issue of the past.”
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) added, “While I am encouraged by the news and what it means for the future of Rockaway, our families and small businesses are suffering today and need service implemented immediately. Our ferry dock at Beach 108th Street was disassembled and shipped away overnight. It should not take two years to bring it back. Our struggling families deserve equal access to transit just like every other resident in this city and I will not stop fighting until this is a reality.”
By Michael V. Cusenza