Too Far Down: The Rockaway Ferry

by TODD MULLER

What Does Rockaway Ferry Mean for Far Rockaway???? Is Far Rockaway thrilled about the Rockaway Ferry service which set sail on Monday, May 1, from Beach 108th Street, stopping in Sunset Park, then landing in Wall Street?  
Correspondent TOod Muller asked commuters and employees near the Rockaway/Mott Av A station this week, the consensus was: Not really.
The commuters we spoke with waiting for the A train at the Far on Monday morning had more questions than answers, from “Where is it?” to “How much does it cost?” to “Where does it go?”
Far Rockaway resident Beth Navarette travels to Manhattan every weekday. When asked if she thought that the ferry would have any effect on her, she replied, “Probably not.”
“Getting to the ferry is a pain,” she added, “I would just stay on the train.”
One woman on her way to a nursing job just had time to turn and tell me, “It’s too far down”, echoing the general sentiment on the platform.
The city, of course, has a different story.
Beginning at 5:30 a.m., boats are scheduled to launch from Beach 108th Street every hour, running until 8:30 p.m, 9:30 on weekends. Boats begin departing Wall Street at 6:30 a.m., and run until 9:30. The cost per ride will equal that of a single subway ride, currently $2.75, with $1 added to bring on a bicycle. A “30-Day Adult Pass” will be $121, $141 for the “With Bike” option. Two children under 44 inches tall can ride for free when accompanied by an adult. There are reduced fares for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Your fare allows you to transfer for free to any other ferry route within the system, but not to the subway or buses. There is, of course, an app for buying tickets, from Apple and Google Play, but there will also be ticket vending machines and actual ticket agents.
Far Rockaway commuters can get to Beach 108th Street by the Q22 bus, as well as the Shuttle train, after transferring from the A at Broad Channel. There will also be a free shuttle bus service, starting at Beach Channel Drive and Beach 35th Street.
The “free” price seems even lower when considering the fees at the new parking lot at Beach 108th Street: $8/day, and $100 for monthly passes. If no other way, the Rockaway Ferry will unite the Peninsula in disgust over the costly parking. The 120-space parking lot will be open 7 days a week from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
The boats themselves, able to carry 150 passengers, sound pretty nice.  They are new, and designed to limit noise and bumpiness. All boats will have WiFi, and onboard concessions are promised. Boats will be fully accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities, complying federal and city laws.
Also, the city is accepting applications for captain and deckhand jobs throughout the spring and summer. At least if it’s your work site, Beach 108th Street won’t be “too far down”.
The most sage commentary about the city’s latest Rockaway Ferry service may have come from one of the MTA workers I chatted with while waiting for the next train’s commuters to arrive: “I don’t think they know the impact yet.”§

as Published in May 2017 Communities of Color News