Thursday, July 3, 2014

Editorial: Ferry Fight Fail

Sad to say, but when The Wave learned that the $75 billion budget agreement made between the New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio did not include funding for a permanent commitment to ferry service, we weren’t all that surprised.
Call it being realistic, call it being jaded or just apathetic, the result is the same; the ferry may very well sail away in October. Maybe for good.
A looming Long Island Railroad strike is also on the horizon, and combined with the already horrendous transportation issues facing Rockaway, this Economic Development Corporation party line of “in October, we’ll see” (which was tweeted to the Wave on June 27, the day we ran the “Mayor Sinks Ferry” front page), is insulting, at best.
At least the mayor showed up here once (in March), to try to soothe the peninsula’s temper over Build it Back. The EDC hasn’t sent a single person here to talk to residents about the ferry.
The latest chapter in this drama has only further galvanized the multiple groups to keep fighting, but the continued whispers of “more ridership” are also ongoing.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that it is ridership. But if it is, how true of a sample size is the EDC using to “advise” the Mayor and “Team de Blasio”?
There are only five trips leaving Rockaway going to NYC on weekday mornings, roughly once per hour from 5:40 a.m. to 9:25 a.m. The Staten Island Ferry has 12 trips during that time, as well as 14 additional trips before the 4:30 p.m. ferry leaves Rockaway for the city. How it is possible to gauge true potential ridership with that ridiculous amount of disparity? Besides, that is just going to NYC.
The Rockaway Ferry from NYC to the Beach 108th Street has only three morning trips, all leaving just the Pier 11 / Wall Street terminal (6:35 a.m., 7:25 a.m., 8:35 a.m.), and service doesn’t resume until 2:45 p.m. That leaves four remaining trips for the folks coming home: 4:20 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Meantime, the Staten Island Ferry has continuous trips throughout the entire afternoon, at least one every half-hour. BY ELGIN BOLLING
There is the basic need for those commuting to the city for work. There is the secondary value of having a ferry to enjoy the NYC nightlife if the people of Rockaway so choose. And finally, the most logical need; weekend service.
“Reverse Tourism” as longtime ferry activist Joe Hartigan calls it, is so crucial to the overall endgame: make Rockaway better than ever.
This past weekend saw thousands come out for Rockaway!, which has made headlines all over the Big Apple and beyond. The special ferry service from NYC to Ft. Tilden brought a good chunk of those folks to the event.
Finally, this past weekend the New York Daily News printed a “Celebrate Rockaway” pullout, calling Rockaway “the best expanse of urban beach in the entire country.” It’s too bad that the rest of the country has to take two different “A” trains to get here. Yup, that’s a surefire plan to bring tourism dollars to Rockaway

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