City to study future of Rockaway ferry

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Bianca Fortis

The city is floating the idea for a permanent ferry that would serve the Rockaways.

The peninsula now has a temporary ferry service, but permanent service may be a possibility, depending on the results of a citywide ferry study that will begin in the fall. The study would also determine if adding a second location in Far Rockaway on the east end would be feasible.

The study is actually a follow-up to another one conducted in 2011, according to Patrick Muncie, a spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the group that agreed to do the study.

“It’s very preliminary, very basic,” he said. “We’ll take a look at the results and go from there.”

Muncie could not give an estimated date of completion for the study or an estimated cost.

Jonathan Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14, which covers Far Rockaway, said a permanent ferry would be wonderful because the peninsula is poorly served by mass transportation. The ferry cuts the commute into Manhattan almost in half, he said.

“If the city made the ferry permanent, that would be an economic boost to our community and businesses,” he said. “It would allow us to become a thriving economic generator for the city of New York.”

There currently is a Rockaway ferry that runs from 108th Street at Beach Channel Drive to Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. It was implemented in November to temporarily replace the A train after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York City’s transit system, crippling the A subway line. Despite the A train’s return, ferry service has continued because ridership remains high.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday that the Rockaway commuter ferry, operated by Seastreak, will run through Labor Day. It operates Monday through Friday and costs $2 a ride.

“Ridership numbers show that this new ferry service is an important transportation option for Rockaway residents,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “The continuation of service, along with the additional weekend service we have also added, will allow the Rockaways to keep rebounding from Sandy.”

For the summer, there is also weekend service from Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways to Pier 11, operated by TWMF Ferry Inc. That, however, costs $20 one way and $30 round trip for an adult.

For years the Rockaway community has been fighting for ferry service. State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) initiated a petition for community members to ask that the ferry stay. Goldfeder, flanked by Rockaways residents, delivered 3,000 signatures to City Hall last Friday.

“While each day remains a challenge to rebuild, it is even harder without crucial transportation service,” Goldfeder wrote in May when he launched the petition. “The ferry service has not only provided an efficient and convenient means of transportation, but has provided enormous assistance to help our community recover.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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