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MTA sells goods to benefit storm-scarred Rockaways

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota sports one of the H line merchandise items going on sale to help Superstorm Sandy victims. Photo courtesy MTA
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A revived train line helping the Rockaways stay mobile is also generating cash to fund relief efforts for the peninsula this holiday season.

The New York Transit Museum, in collaboration with vendors producing official Metropolitan Transportation Authority-licensed merchandise, announced a limited collection of H line goods for sale through the museum’s online store. The proceeds generated by this sale will benefit relief efforts led by The Graybeards, a local nonprofit established in response to Sept. 11 and dedicated to the Rockaways community.

“We were looking for a way to use our licensed products to help out in the recovery efforts taking place in the Rockaways,” said Mark Heavey, MTA director of marketing and communications. “The H line has piqued a lot of interest in subway service in the Rockaways and, with the help of a few of our product licensees, presented us with a unique opportunity to promote the service and to provide tangible assistance to efforts to rebuild that community.”

The H is the route designation given to the special subway shuttle set up in late November to provide some subway service on the Rockaway Peninsula, which had been without subway service since Sandy struck in October. The H designation has not been used since 1994, when it was last used for the Rockaway Park Shuttle, which operated between Rockaway Park and Broad Channel.

Currently operating between Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue and Beach 90th Street, the H provides a rail link to the A shuttle bus to Howard Beach and connections to the A line and John F. Kennedy International Airport AirTrain.

Sandy’s destructive surge submerged and washed out the tracks that make up the flats, a 70-foot-wide fenced strip of land that carries the A across the middle of Jamaica Bay between Howard Beach and Broad Channel. The extensive damage left the Rockaways without a rail link between the peninsula and Queens. Even as repairs continue to rebuild the flats, it will take several months before full subway service is restored to the peninsula, according to the MTA.

Darren Kornblut, of the Image Exchange, the firm that operates the Transit Museum’s online store, said the merchandise is a great way for train buffs — or holiday shoppers — to assist in the relief efforts.

“Initially, the blue H logo will be available on T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts paired with either “The Rockaways” or “Rockaway Shuttle” spelled out underneath,” he said. “The H logo will also be available on magnets and a lapel pin. Other products may be developed as well.”

The first H shuttle began service in 1956 when it was known as the HH and it ran on repurposed Long Island Rail Road tracks from Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn to either Rockaway Park or Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway until 1972. In the late 1970s, the shuttle came back as the CC, changed back to the HH, then became just the H in 1986. The H was retired in 1994, replaced by an S for shuttle.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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