“The temporary Rockaway ferry now in operation has been a great boon for Rockaways residents seeking an easy commute to other parts of the City and for people from other parts of the City seeking to get to Rockaway Beach and its attractions,” Borough President Katz said. “In the short time since it was established during the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the temporary Rockaway ferry has proved enormously popular and has contributed to the peninsula’s economic growth and to its attractiveness as a tourist destination.”
“Unfortunately, this year’s Expense Budget does not contain the funding that would make this wonderful service a permanent part of our City’s transportation network,” the Borough President added. “However, I will continue to advocate with the elected officials on the peninsula for permanent ferry service and will seek a mid-year budget modification that would provide funding that would guarantee that the Rockaway ferry remains in operation after its current funding runs out in October.”
The temporary Rockaway ferry now operated by Seastreak sails weekdays out of 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways, with boats making stops at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and at Wall Street and 34th Street on the East Side of Manhattan. The temporary City funding that helps keep this service afloat is due to run out in October.
Borough President Katz, along with her fellow Borough Presidents from the City’s four other boroughs, had requested that the Fiscal Year 2015 Expense Budget allocate $8 million to allow the Rockaway ferry to run seven days a week through the end of June 2015. They also asked that the City make the ferry service permanent by baselining funds for the ferry in the budget’s financial projections for future years.
The Rockaway peninsula has long suffered from having limited transportation options. It is the only area within the City that requires non-residents to pay a toll to visit neighborhoods within the same borough. The Rockaway ferry makes it possible for visitors and Queens residents alike to enjoy the Rockaways without having to pay the $7.50 toll.
Bus and train options are also limited to and from the Rockaway Peninsula. There is no direct train service to much of the Rockaways, forcing many residents and visitors to navigate multiple trains and a shuttle service as part of their commute. In addition, the Rockaway Peninsula only has two express buses that bring commuters to and from Manhattan.
In addition, Manhattan has six active commuter ferry terminals, while Brooklyn has seven terminals and Staten Island has one, which offers a 24-hour service that has been fully subsidized.
“I never argue to limit anyone’s access to ferry service, but I believe Queens needs equity,” Borough President Katz said.”
“The residents and business owners on the Rockaway Peninsula continue to be engaged in the post-hurricane rebuilding and recovery process,” the Borough President added. “The Rockaway ferry has played a major role in this recovery and losing it would be devastating to this community, which still finds itself in a time of need.”