Rockaway officials are pleased that Mayor Bloomberg’s directive to extend passenger ferry service between the peninsula and Manhattan through at least Labor Day.
Now, they are looking to remove the word “interim” from any discussions with City Hall and the Department of Transportation.
“Our work is not done until the Rockaway ferry service is made permanent,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach). “The ferry is not only a smart and efficient means of travel, but it will continue to provide much-needed transportation options and assistance to help our communities recover after Sandy.”
The service was initiated last fall in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which severely damaged the Broad Channel railroad bridge and more than 1,000 feet of track that brings the A train to the Rockaways.
Service was shut down for seven months.
Goldfeder recently delivered a petition with more than 3,000 signatures to city officials calling for ferries as a permanent option.
Shuttle buses and a special H subway line were added along with the ferry until A train service was restored on May 30.
The Mayor’s Office said Manhattan-bound runs will continue between 5:45 and 9:20 a.m. from a temporary landing installed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation at Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive.
Riders are taken to Pier 11, and can get a free transfer to East 34th Street in Midtown.
Return trips are available during the evening rush.
The fare will remain at $2.
“Ridership numbers show that this new ferry service is an important transportation option for Rockaway residents,” Bloomberg said in a statement issued by his office on July 2. “The continuation of service, along with the additional weekend service that we also have added, will allow the Rockaways to keep rebounding from Sandy.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) has been an advocate of ferry service in the Rockaways since his years on the City Council.
He also hopes the numbers between now and Labor Day will convince city transportation officials to make the boats permanent.
“For any official, this is a no-brainer,” the senator said. “You are talking about one of the most geographically isolated areas of New York City. The bottom line is this should be permanent, not just extended until Memorial Day and then Labor Day. I want to see full service — and on weekends too.”
Addabbo acknowledged that the service would have to be subsidized with local transportation funds in order to keep it competitive with the subways and buses.
“But in a $70 billion budget, I think the city can find the fraction it needs,” Addabbo said. “Back in my Council days in 2002, the city had one of the worst economies in its history after 9/11; and I still got the rest of the Council to agree to $500,000 for a Rockaway ferry.”
He said the city’s anticipated return on investment is a key to the issue, particularly if it can take advantage of what the senator said are underutilized water resources.
“It’s a two-way waterway,” he said. “People will use it to go to the Rockaways to visit the beaches or to surf; or to go to some of the restaurants. It should be an easy sell.”