Photo: The city this week said that state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr.’s new idea for reviving the Rockaway Ferry is not financially viable. File Photo.
The de Blasio administration this week poured water on one area elected official’s idea to immediately bring back ferry service to the Rockaways.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said that while he welcomes Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision of a five-borough ferry system, which is set to hit the seas in 2017, he is “left wondering what the people of the Rockaways will do for this year and 2016. The summer season especially promotes tourism and the local economy. We need those benefits to continue rebuilding from [Superstorm] Sandy, and a ferry brings in consumers to do just that.”
Addabbo pointed to the unused U.S. Coast Guard dock in Fort Tilden in Breezy Point as a possible landing pier for the temporary ferry. In order to install a new permanent dock for the five-borough service, city agencies would have to conduct environmental impact studies, Addabbo noted, which would only add extra time “the community cannot afford.”
Addabbo said that the Fort Tilden berth requires no study, and could be the “smart, practical” option in the interim.
“A ferry operator could start pulling boats up tomorrow,” Addabbo said. “There is parking for Rockaway residents wanting to travel off the peninsula and Gateway Beach nearby for beach visitors coming in.”
But the administration told The Forum on Monday that Addabbo’s idea doesn’t hold water.
“A stand-alone route is just not financially viable, as previous service has proven,” said Wiley Norvell, a de Blasio spokesman. “What will ultimately make ferry service to the Rockaways affordable to commuters and sustainable for the city is to knit it into a full citywide network, increasing ridership and lowering costs per trip dramatically. We are working to bring that service online as soon as possible.”
According to the Mayor’s Office, the city subsidy required for the post-Sandy Rockaway Ferry service was between $25 and $30 per passenger trip. The new service will require a fraction of that, making it sustainable long-term.
Still, Addabbo said that he “cannot see a downside” to his short-term solution.
“Transportation as we know is limited on the peninsula and I have always said a ferry is our most realistic, viable option,” he added. “While we wait for a permanent ferry service, it’s important we have this option during our busy summer season.”
By Michael V. Cusenza firstname.lastname@example.org