The Rockaway Ferry service is currently not financially sustainable and the city is looking for ways to continue it past October, according to a letter from the city’s Economic Development Corp. to a member of Community Board 14.
In the letter, sent last week to Danny Ruscillo, co-chairman of CB 14’s Transportation Committee, EDC President Kyle Kimball said that the ferry carries around 400 people per day between Rockaway and Manhattan, with a stop in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The fare is $3.50 per passenger, but EDC said the cost to subsidize the service is about $30 per passenger, more than six times the cost to the city per rider of the Staten Island Ferry, which is free for passengers, and more than twice the cost-per-rider of express bus service.
Kimball said the city is still pondering ways to continue the service past October.
“While we continue to evaluate inventive ways for ferry service to continue, the key determinant will be financial responsibility and sustainability of service, given its high expense,” he said. “I hope you take from this message that we are doing what we can do and being as creative as possible as we consider the long-term future of what was originally intended to be a temporary service.”
In an email, Ruscillo noted that while the cost-per-rider of the Staten Island Ferry is lower, ridership is much higher, costing taxpayers more than the Rockaway Ferry.
“Staten Island ridership is estimated at twenty million a year, not including weekends,” he said. “Do the math, twenty million at $4.86 per rider, we the tax payers are footing this bill.”
The Rockaway service began after Sandy destroyed the A train tracks over Jamaica Bay, but was continued even after the line reopened in May 2013. Mayor de Blasio continued the service through this October with $2 million from his executive budget. The extension was to “better evaluate costs and funding solutions for longer-term service,” Kimball said.