Boro rallies for extended Rockaway Ferry service

Boro rallies for extended Rockaway Ferry service

Advocates are calling for the permanent implementation of Rockaway Ferry service in the name of economic growth.  File Photo

Advocates are calling for the permanent implementation of Rockaway Ferry service in the name of economic growth. File Photo

Lawmakers in Queens called on the mayor this week to extend Rockaway Ferry service before it expires in October.

The $3.50 ferry, located at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive, first hit the waves after Sandy swept through the region in 2012 as an alternative to the A train and officials and Rockaway residents applauded the service as a new means of spurring economic growth along the peninsula. But the city said it was not used enough to warrant its financial cost and said service would not run beyond this October.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for the service extension through next summer, arguing that more time in service would allow the city to better gauge ridership. In her letter, the borough president requested the continuation all service, including weekends, which have not been part of the current plan.

“It is difficult to assess ridership when the city has decreased the opportunity for the ferry to be used,” Katz said. “Making the ferry available to riders on the weekend opens the Rockaways up to new avenues of much needed tourism to the area’s beaches, business and cultural events. This influx of visitors will also increase opportunities for economic development, which is vital to these communities who continue to rebuilt and recover from Hurricane Sandy.”

Katz argued there was not enough of a sample size to properly measure exactly how much residents were utilizing the line and said cutting service now would put a damper on the region’s recovery efforts since the storm. She said she was in favor of exploring exactly how a permanent ferry would benefit the Rockaway peninsula moving forward.

“There are very limited employment opportunities on the peninsula and most residents earning middle class wages and above travel out of the Rockaways for work,” Katz said. “A direct line of permanent transportation gives residents more adequate access to the Manhattan job market, providing better opportunities for growth and prosperity among Rockaway residents.”

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) also threw his support behind the cause but with a different approach, crafting a letter of his own to Patrick J. Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In his letter, Goldfeder urged the Port Authority to review the possibility of funding permanent ferry service in the name of economic growth.

“Our families live in the shadows of [John F. Kennedy International Airport] and as good neighbors, I’m asking the Port Authority to consider supporting this critical service,” Goldfeder said. “The ferry service is not a luxury, but a necessity for our families and small businesses. It became evident after Sandy that we need to increase public transit options and improve our transportation infrastructure for our geographically isolated communities in southern Queens and Rockaway.”

Goldfeder and other transportation advocates, including Joe Hartigan, assembled more than 7,500 signatures in an online petition calling for permanent service. Those advocates already rallied for one extension of service back in February, when the ferry was supposed to expire before de Blasio agreed to let it continue.

“Rockaway and Jamaica Bay are severely impacted with noise, air and water pollution by Kennedy airport. The Port Authority could help Rockaway in a positive way to improve transportation by supporting ferry service from Kennedy Airport to Rockaway to Manhattan,” Hartigan said. “Ferry service with the airport connection would give Rockaway residents total access to service without a very large subsidy.”


By Phil Corso


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