Rockaway residents fight for last-minute ferry reprieve

Photo courtesy of Laura Deckelman

Photo courtesy of Laura Deckelman

A group of Rockaway residents is waging a viral campaign to save the community’s ferry service to Brooklyn and Manhattan, which will cease operations this week unless additional funding is found.

Laura Deckelman, of Rockaway United to Save our Ferry, has been pressuring public officials on Facebook and Twitter to maintain the service, which was quickly launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The group is also planning a rally at the Beach 108th Street dock on Friday night, hoping to generate enough support for a last-minute reprieve from either Mayor deBlasio or Governor Cuomo.

“I became an advocate for the ferry to help our community,” said Deckelman, a photographer and lifelong resident of the peninsula. “Rockaway took a major fall from Hurricane Sandy. Many rely on the ferry now to travel because the subway or buses are indirect, and often suffer delays.”

Critics, including Mayor deBlasio, charge that the city subsidy of $25 to $30 per passenger is too steep. While the city’s budget for the next fiscal year does not include funding for the ferry, the Mayor has indicated he would be open to using state funds. The Mayor is slated to meet with local officials in a closed-door meeting on Thursday to discuss Sandy recovery efforts. Rockaway residents are hopeful the ferry funding is on the agenda.

The waterborne service was launched as an interim solution after surging waves destroyed the subway tracks of the A train. However, it quickly became popular with residents and summer tourists alike. The city has renewed temporary funding four times, even though A train service was restored in the summer of 2013.

The Mayor’s office did not respond to several inquiries regarding the ferry funding.