Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gulluscio Lays Out 3 Point Plan to Improve Rockaways Commute

Queens Pols Question Administration for Leaving $15 Million in Federal Ferry Funding on the Table

Gathered at Riis Landing, District Leader Frank Gulluscio along with State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer and District Leader Lew Simon laid out his 3 Point Transportation Plan to improve the commute of Rockaways resident. Given the need to expand transportation options for Rockaways residents, the pols also questioned the Administration’s decision to sideline $15 million in funding allotted by Congressman Anthony Weiner in 2005.

“We need to make high quality low cost public transportation a priority in this City. We should invest in the City’s transit infrastructure to increase the frequency and quality of subway, bus and ferry service. Hard-working Rockaways residents have some of the longest commute times in the whole country. We must do more and I have a plan,” said District Leader Gulluscio.

The average commute time in the United States is 25 minutes; the average commute time in Queens is 42 minutes; the average commute time for someone living in the Rockaways is over an hour. In an op-ed this week Gulluscio asserts, the City must take a multi-faceted approach to improve the commutes of Rockaway residents including:

  1. Replacing current shuttle train service to Rockaway stops with full-time A-train service and as a stop-gap measure increasing shuttle service until this service begins.
  2. Expanding express bus service to include nights and weekends and reinstate limited service on Q35 and Q53 routes.
  3. Expanding ferry service to include additional evening departures from Manhattan and service to midtown as well as more weekend service. Additionally, continuing to fund the subsidy for Rockaway ferry service past April 2010 when it expires.

“Commuting for Rockaway residents is oftentimes a nightmare. The ferry service must be improved, expanded and affordable to all. We are a waterfront community and water transport, which is faster and “greener” alternative, is a natural fit for my community.” Said Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.

The two-year pilot program for ferry service running between Riis Landing in the Rockaways and Pier 11 in Manhattan began in May 2008. The ferry service was made possible in part by a $1.1 million allocation from the New York City Council. The ticket price is $6 because of the subsidy provided by the City Council. Thus far, the service has proven to be a success with weekday ridership averaging between 155-360 and when weekend ridership is available averaging between 500-700 (according to NYC Water Taxi figures).

“I believe the start of the Rockaway ferry was a positive step forward toward utilizing our waterways as a mode of transportation,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am so proud that the service has proven to be a success thus far and I hope the City continues to expand it. I know that Frank will fully support the expansion of ferry service and will continue to fund the ferry subsidy.”

Gulluscio added that while he intends to work with the City to improve and expand transportation options and hopes to be named to the Council’s Transportation Committee if elected; he questions some of the decisions that have been made in regards to transportation funding. Specifically, Gulluscio calls on the Administration to put to use $15 million in funding that Congressman Anthony Weiner obtained in 2005 to use to expand ferry service options for the Rockaways.

As recently as last year, Bloomberg said “We're not going to walk away from 15 million bucks," (Daily News 5/11/2008) citing the need to review ridership numbers before expanding service. Gulluscio said “We cannot continue to leave this money on the table while Rockaway residents suffer. Initial figures show the limited Rockaway ferry service is a success. We should look into moving forward by adding additional service times and additional stops in midtown”.

“Our community suffers each and every day with the abominable service on the A line. We look for the addition of all night express bus service and we need our ferry to run more frequently to different parts of Manhattan. I look forward to working with Frank Gulluscio to fight for our community and the improved transportation it deserves. ” said District Leader Lew Simon.