Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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Funding to Keep Rockaway Ferry Permanent Not Included in City Budget

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TWC News: Funding to Keep Rockaway Ferry Permanent Not Included in City Budget
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Funding to keep the Rockaway Ferry permanent was not included in the city's $75 billion fiscal budget for next year, a decision that has some Rockaway residents devastated. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.

Rockaway Park resident Danny Ruscillo pointed out the banner he raised calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to find room in the city's budget for permanent Rockaway Ferry service. It's a call he said went unanswered.

"We're devastated," Ruscillo said. "This is a peninsula. The transportation here is terrible. This was, like my wife said, a shining star, the only thing that really came after Sandy."

The Seastreak Ferry began running from 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive after Hurricane Sandy cut off A train service to the peninsula. It runs Monday through Friday during rush hour, making a single stop in Brooklyn before arriving in Manhattan. About 750 passengers ride the ferry a day at a cost of $3.50 per ride.

Commuters say the ferry became a lifeline after the storm.

"Not only for the people who live here, but for people who like to come to this community, and have heard of the Rockaways, you know, want to visit it," said John Brennan, a Rockaway Park resident.

The city extended the temporary ferry service four times. Residents rallied at City Hall earlier this month in hopes that the service would be extended once again, past its October cutoff date.

"I don't believe there's anything that's more beneficial or has been more beneficial to the Rockaway peninsula besides this ferry," said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

"Across the board, there is unanimous support," said Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder of Queens. "Sadly, we're not seeing the support where we need it most, and that's out of City Hall."

A de Blasio spokesperson told NY1 that they will continue to examine ridership and seek a sustainable funding stream that can support the $25-$30 subsidy per trip, which is the highest of any public transportation in the city.

"It shouldn't go to Rockaway? What, it should go to the Upper West Side or Central Park West?" said John Cori of Friends of Rockaway Beach. "We deserve just as much, and if we happen to be this higher subsidy, why not?"

Rockaway residents said they will continue fighting to keep ferry service afloat.

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