2014-08-08 / Columnists

Dispatches

A Request To Extend the Rockaway Ferry
A Letter To Mayor Bill de Blasio By Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I am writing to request an extension of the Rockaway ferry service through the summer of 2015. Maintaining service into next summer, and including weekend service as part of this extension, will allow us to consider numbers in ridership that truly reflect the need and usage of the Rockaway ferry.

As current ferry service does not include weekend rides, particularly in the summer months, the ridership numbers do not reflect the full potential that this vital transportation option can offer this community. It is difficult to assess ridership when the city has decreased the opportunity for the ferry to be used. Making the ferry available to riders on the weekend opens the Rockaways up to new avenues of much needed tourism to the area’s beaches, business, and cultural events. This influx of visitors will also increase opportunities for economic development, which is vital to these communities who continue to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Committing to an extension that ensures ferry service through next summer will further allow us to measure how a more “permanent” ferry would attract new business owners who would be more likely to invest in the Rockaways knowing that this more direct, and reliable transportation option was available on a long-term basis. At this time it is unreasonable to think that potential business owners would consider this investment if one of the area’s major transportation services will be discontinued in a month.

There are very limited employment opportunities on the peninsula and most residents earning middle class wages and above travel out of the Rockaways for work. A direct line of permanent transportation gives residents more adequate access to the Manhattan job market, providing better opportunities for growth and prosperity among Rockaway residents. A stronger commitment to this service also allows us to assess the potential of the ferry to bring new inhabitants to the Rockaways.

To this point, the Rockaway ferry has been recognized solely as a “temporary” method of transport that left residents and visitors uncertain about the continuation of service beyond each short-term extension. A commitment to continue the ferry through the summer of 2015, while including a weekend schedule, would allow the full potential of the ridership and benefits to the peninsula to be realized.

Thank you.

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