BY JOE HARTIGAN
As a lifelong resident of Queens and a 34-year resident of the Rockaways, I would like to emphasize the great potential ferry service will have for Rockaway and the rest of the city.
Since those living in the Rockaways have the longest commute of any NYC residents, it is evident that the ferry service, which was established after Superstorm Sandy, has dramatically improved commuter travel time but is also the only nice thing that has happened to Rockaway since the storm.
The ferry service that was put in place after Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway was done in three days. The Rockaways were very fortunate that Seastreak had the proper vessels available to establish the ferry run after Sandy.
The ferry has cut the commute time from the middle of Rockaway to lower Manhattan by over a half-hour. The ferry service has had an on-time performance of better than 95 percent with not one police incident in the almost two years since it started.
According to the NYC Parks Department, in 2012, Rockaway Beach saw almost 8 million visitors before Superstorm Sandy. Rockaway could become the number one (or two) tourist destination in NYC by improving beach access through better transportation. Rockaway has more visitors than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and the Statue of Liberty, to name a few.
In the last week of August, the Rockaway/Brooklyn/Manhattan ferry did 1,300 rides per day. If the R/B/M ferry were free, it would give the Staten Island ferry a run for the top ridership spot.
The ferries would be built in New York State, thus creating jobs. Seastreak would base part of its operations in New York State, therefore creating 50 to 80 permanent jobs in NYC.
The route that I am proposing is JFK Airport-Rockaway-BAT Pier Brooklyn-Wall Street-Roosevelt Island-Astoria-Flushing, LaGuardia Airport and Willets Point Project. If the R/B/M ferry had the same number of ferry runs with the beach traffic and JFK Airport passengers, the ridership number would triple that of the East River ferry.
I am just trying to improve my neighborhood of Rockaway, Queens, by advocating for an overall NYC ferry service which, in turn, will assist in developing all areas of our city.