Friday, June 5, 2015

City wants shuttles for Rockaway ferry

Proposal seeks to ease access to waterborne transportation system

The city is looking to have shuttles take passengers to and from the ferry stop in the Rockaways expected to launch in 2017.
The Economic Development Corp. put out the request for shuttle service last Wednesday, seeking to connect the western peninsula communities of Belle Harbor, Seaside, Rockaway Beach, Arverne and Hammel to the dock at a to-be-determined location.
Shuttle bus service is being considered for the Rockaway dock because, the city states, the area has “limited existing MTA bus service connecting the Rockaway Landing to population centers” as well as a lack of parking spaces near the dock.
The citywide ferry service, announced by Mayor de Blasio in February during his State of the City address, seeks to connect the peninsula, Astoria, South Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the East River Ferry system — which has stops in Manhattan, Long Island City and Brooklyn.
Bus stops for the proposed shuttles in the Rockaways will be located where MTA buses pull up to receive their passengers, the city states, and will be free of charge.
One member of Community Board 14, which covers the entire peninsula, said the shuttles are a good start to get riders from one end of the Rockaways to the other but added there needs to be another dock to keep commutes to the boats shorter.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Felicia Johnson said. “To me, it’s better than nothing.”
Johnson, a Bayswater resident, said it’s now up to Rockaway residents utilize the ferry service when it starts in two years — around the same time Mayor de Blasio and all Council members are up for re-election.
“Now we have to come out and use it and show our numbers,” she said.
The Rockaways last year decried the loss of a ferry that had been implemented after Superstorm Sandy while the A train was out of commission due to repairs.
The city discontinued it on Oct. 31, citing low ridership and a high cost of subsidizing the service.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) said in an interview that the addition of shuttle services to and from the dock is “great news ... but I wish they would have done it sooner.
“The city has recognized the need for ferry service, but additionally they’ve recognized we need to increase accessibility to that ferry,” Goldfeder added. “So by including that in the RFP, it will increase ridership and ultimately make transportation better for everybody in Queens and the Rockaways.”
The city states the shuttle service can be operated by the same entity that runs the ferry service or by a separate organization.
Entities interested in operating the ferry service must submit their proposals to the city by June 12.

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