By Gabriel Rom
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr (D-Howard Beach) is asking the city to reconsider its procedures for selecting an operator for ferry service to and from Rockaway.
After attending a meeting in Rockaway last week hosted by the city Development Corporation, Addabbo mentioned several items that the city should take into account before awarding a contract.
According to news reports published in February, Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises & Events to run the city’s water routes.
The new ferry routes are set to open in 2017. One will connect Rockaway to south Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan; a second will go from Astoria to Long Island City, Roosevelt Island and Midtown Manhattan; and a third will connect Brooklyn and Manhattan .
But with several ferry operators already in place that currently do business with the city, running vessels through various unique waterways surrounding New York, Addabbo urged de Blasio to consider contracting a company that has both local experience and economic advantages as opposed to working with an out-of-state businesses.
“Rockaway residents and I certainly know the severe need for improved transportation on the peninsula,” Addabbo said. “That is why the success of this ferry initiative, and ultimately the success of the Rockaway peninsula, is dependent on making sure the city chooses the right operator. The meeting I recently attended with EDC and the community highlighted the fact that the lowest bidder is not always necessarily the most responsible choice, and there are many other factors besides the price tag that we must keep in mind. It is important that whichever operator is ultimately chosen can promise jobs to Rockaway residents and can also ensure that the already agreed-upon fare to ride the ferry stays the same, regardless of operating costs.”
The city will spend $55 million on docks and capital costs for the ferries, in addition to subsidizing the service.
Addabbo also noted a promise made by de Blasio when announcing the resurrected ferry service. According to Addabbo, the mayor committed to choosing an operator that would provide newly constructed boats for this project, a promise which the senator said must be kept. He also believes the community, or at least the city, should be able to inspect the boats from a potential ferry operator prior to any final deal being signed.
Addabbo also said he also wants to explore the community’s funding request, made through NY Rising, for roughly $8 million to build a proper dock for these boats and their riders to use.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@