2017-05-26 / Top Stories

“Let’s really talk about our transit”

Official Point Of View
By Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato

So let’s really talk about our transit in South Queens.

Any area called a “transit desert” is used to inconveniences. We’re used to giving special instructions to friends and family. We’re used to taking two or three buses to get anywhere. We’re used to budgeting an hour and a half on either end - more than to many parts of Long Island - if we want to go to Manhattan. In our case, just to use my hometown of Rockaway Beach, when we used to be the center of New York’s summer scene in the 1950s and 1960s, we had a 40-minute commute to Midtown via the Rockaway Beach Rail Line. Since the 1880s (just after the Civil War!), folks on the Rockaway Peninsula could get to Manhattan in that very reasonable amount of time.

Well, post-Sandy, we’re becoming the center of action again. But now, the commute is an hour 20 minutes. Twice what it should be - and could be. And we’re only going to grow.

So we have to sit down and fix this. I’m new in the Assembly, but I’ve learned a lot. First and foremost, I’ve learned that everything looks impossible until it starts - which is why you need to start things before they look possible. And if the people of South Queens look back 20 years from now, when we’re over-crowded but disconnected from the NYC transit system, I don’t think they’ll look kindly on us sitting on our hands.

First, let me say: the ferry is a huge step in the right direction. It’s pleasant, it’s beautiful, it’s fast, and it’s the same price as a subway ticket.

But the ferry alone won’t solve our transit issue. It’s doomed to be a victim of its own success. Everyone already wants to ride the ferry - which is why right now, many rides are maxed out and people have to wait, literally standing in one spot, to reserve their ride on the next boat a full hour later. And no wonder: the ferry itself doesn’t even carry the capacity of one subway CAR, let alone one full actual train. And it leaves once an hour. That’s a system that works fine for what it is, but can’t really grow past a certain point.

Meanwhile, the right-of-way for the dormant Rockaway Beach Rail Line (RBRL) - which would be one of the cheaper projects in the transit world, but not pocket change at about $200 billion - it is also claimed by a High Line-style project that’s gaining momentum among insiders, even as it seems a poor fit for Queens. Homeowners are rightly concerned about the noise and eminent-domain seizure of their property if they live along the dormant line, though that might seem like a small price to pay to bring a whole part of the city back online.

So there are issues to work through. But these are not insurmountable issues. The benefits outweigh the costs by a lot, as far as I can see. One of the arguments is that it might take decades to come online. Well, that’s a given for ANY transit project - but the folks on our crowded beaches 20 years from now won’t see it that way.

How are we going to solve South Queens’s real and growing transit problem? A feasibility study is finally being done on the RBRL, and seeing the results of that is an important first step. Once we have the results, we must put it out there and lobby relentlessly. And we have to start now, or it’ll REALLY never get done.

My kids need enough things from me, and they sure aren’t quiet about it. I don’t want to get yelled at by my grandkids because they’re standing around waiting for a train we were talking about building for decades. I don’t know what those kids will be into, but I’m pretty sure getting from Point A to Point B will be high on their list.

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We want the ferry for the

We want the ferry for the people of rockaway not the tourist I dont storytelling Stacy I tell it like it is coalition of the rockaways chairman bruce jacobs

I worked 30 years in transit

I worked 30 years in transit and Im a veteran

We will fight for all of

We will fight for all of rockaway coalition of the roc kaways bruce jacobs

The coalition of the

The coalition of the rockaways Bruce Jacobs wants better train and bus service no more shelter hotels and shelters and prisons dumped in the neighborhood of color we want bike lanes we want more schools Stacy we need also of resiliency in our neighborhood we unite with adverne to stopthese shelters we need to fight for these things stacy the coalition wants queens rail however a high line park is better then nothing the coalition of the rockaways bruce jacobs

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