Refine Rockaway ferry statistics: Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz wrote the mayor urging for Rockaway ferry service to continue through summer 2015.
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Rockaway ferry ridership statistics need a fairer reading, according to the borough president.

Borough President Melinda Katz asked the mayor to add weekend ferry trips and extend service through summer 2015 so more accurate passenger assessments can be factored into decisions about the boats’ future.

Her Aug. 1 memo to Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that current statistics were likely low-balling the route because weekend trips were not offered during the beach season.

“It is difficult to assess ridership when the city has decreased the opportunity for the ferry to be used,” Katz wrote. “Making the ferry available to riders on the weekend opens the Rockaways up to new avenues of much-needed tourism to the area’s beaches, business and cultural events.”

De Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said finances did not make a strong case for the ferry.

“We have enabled a further opportunity this summer to see if the economics on the ground change in a way that would make long-term service viable. But barring an extraordinary increase in ridership, this service is just not sustainable,” Novell said.

The borough president’s letter came two months after the city adopted a budget with only enough funding to keep ferries traveling from Beach 108th Street to the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Manhattan through October.

The city Economic Development Corp. put out requests for proposals to operate the route for five years, but has not outlined the timeline for selecting a plan.

The peninsula embraced the latest round of ferry service after it was introduced when the A train was damaged in Hurricane Sandy and many rallied for the city to find the $5 million estimated annual cost of the route in the $75 billion budget.

The EDC cautioned its efforts to continue the service may not succeed because of its high cost.

In a July 18 e-mail, EDC President Kyle Kimball said some 400 people board each boat, which translates into a roughly $3.50 fee per passenger and a nearly $30 city subsidy per person.

Kimball noted other ferries require less city financing — the East River route has a $2.22 subsidy per passenger and the Staten Island Ferry $4.86.

But Danny Ruscillo, co-chairman of Community Board 14’s Transportation Committee, said Rockaway residents’ taxes help ferry some 20 million people to and from Staten Island each year.

“We, the taxpayers, are footing the bill. Yes, Staten Island should have ferry service, but so should Rockaway, Brooklyn, Broad Channel and Breezy Point,” he said.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at

Posted 12:00 am, August 10, 2014
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Reader feedback

pete from Rockaway says:
Like many other great world cities - water is a given. Unlike most however - Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Piraeus, Tokyo etc., etc - we don't utilize our God-given resources these days, like ferries. They're fast, convenient, green and cheap (regardless what EDC says).

Rockaway (and northern Queens too) needs REGULAR FERRY SERVICE permanently - and to JFK, too!!!

Thank You BP Katz for supporting us and supporting Queens... America's fifth largest city (were we a stand-alone municipality... which I think we are far too often).

Aug. 12, 2014, 7:32 am
LAura from ROckaway says:
Anyone who has ever driven out of Rockaway via Cross Bay Blvd-Woodhaven to Queens Blvd/LIE knows what a serious traffic situation is. Leaving the ROckaways via Brooklyn and the Belt Pkwy is also a traffic nightmare. In an emergency , response vehicles cannot get through the traffic bottleneck from either end. All of the mainland Queens could benefit from the Ferry service. That many more cars would be off the main arteries. DiBlasio also is not looking at the big picture for the "green" impact of taking these cars off the road. Very short-sighted and manipulated statistics.'Tis a pity and a shame.
Aug. 12, 2014, 10:14 am
Philip McManus from Rockaway Park says:
The City is corrupt and manipulates the truth. Why is the Staten Island Ferry free? Politics! The Mayor has the power to correct years of government redlining, discrimination and separation, a Tale of Two Cities. Who is responsible for the steering of the poor and underserved to Rockaway? Why does Rockaway have a higher rate of poverty, unemployment, violent crime, mental illness, sex offenders, adult homes, nursing homes, foreclosures, abandoned homes and businesses, low performing schools, longer travel times, terrible infrastructure, a stinking sewage plant, half our beaches are closed to swimming for no reason, no Peninsula Hospital, no Playland, no free bridges, no Queens Rockaway Beach Line, no wooden boardwalk after two years, etc., etc., and now the City wants to lie and steal our FERRY? Politics! Don't blame the victims, blame our bloated, corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest government. Government buearuecrats and slumlords are making money on the backs of the people of Queens. The Ferry is counterproductive to their plans of destruction. I'm glad some of our elected leaders are fighting for the people. Support our group, the Queens Public Transit Committee for faster transportation with more social, economic, recreational and environmental opportunities with an honest government.

Philip McManus
Queens Public Transit Committee
Aug. 12, 2014, 10:50 am
Carl LaFong from Breezy Point says:
I know it's funded by the state, but I'd like to see what the subsidy is on the Roosevelt Island tram. Compare and contrast.
Aug. 12, 2014, 8:54 pm
Philip McManus from Rockaway Park says:


The Queens (Rockaway)-Brooklyn-Manhattan Ferry is not dead. We will fight until we win.

FROM 7:30 P.M - 9:00 P.M




On Thursday August 21st. at 5pm at the steps of City hall. The people of Queens & Brooklyn will come together to fight for the ferry and for transportation equality.
This is our chance to tell the Mayor to listen to the people and keep the Queens Rockaway Ferry to Brooklyn and Manhattan.
We encourage each and every resident and business owner to attend to show the Mayor we need the ferry.
contact John Cori at 516-509-8957 for further information.

Philip McManus- Queens Public Transit Committee
718-474-0315 718-679-5309
Aug. 16, 2014, 10:34 pm

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