I fondly recall the days (circa 1986) when I could travel to Lower Manhattan from my outer borough co-op apartment in Brooklyn’s Kensington section via express bus, and start sharpening pencils at my desk at 25 Broadway in less than ten minutes. About a decade later, I even remember driving from Rockaway, grabbing a spot in the old Queens Center Municipal Lot, and hopping on the E or F train to Midtown. Made it to my NBC desk in Rockefeller Center, in less than 40 minutes. OK, so you could drive pretty fast on Woodhaven Boulevard going in the rush hour direction back in those days.
Anyway, that municipal lot is much smaller and harder to get into, and the E & F trains just don’t run like they used to, either. The volume of traffic on Woodhaven seems to be much higher, to boot. Rockaway is so far from “the city” that these days, you feel privileged if you get there in less than an hour and a half. If you go outside of rush hour, it can take closer to two hours. And that’s not fair. Traveling to Midtown from Newark, New Jersey, by train, takes only twenty minutes. Trains run all day long on that schedule.
Transit justice for New York’s orphaned sixth borough (you know, the neighborhoods “way below the Belt”) is long overdue. And as long and grueling as the commute can be, the proverbial “insult added to injury” is that every resident of Rockaway who has business or social ties off the peninsula has had to budget about an extra $60 a month just for bridge tolls since the end of July. Ditto for Broad Channelites driving to the peninsula. Can you say “fed up?”
A good way to get involved in the fight for transit justice is to show up at the first public meeting of the “Rockaway Task Force” appointed by the Mayor and Rockaway’s City Council members–Eric Ulrich and James Sanders. The meeting is set for Tuesday, September 7 (you know, the night before the first day of school) at the Knights of Columbus on Beach 90 Street in Rockaway Beach, starting at 7 p.m.
The first public announcement of this meeting appeared in the Friday, September 3 issue of The Wave, just before a holiday weekend, so only a cockeyed optimist would expect a huge turnout. It may be short notice, but get those backpacks and lunches ready for your little ones, tuck them into bed, and head out to the meeting on Tuesday evening…At least it’s easier than getting to city hall.
Public Meeting of Rockaway Task Force–Tues. Sept. 7– 7-9 p.m.–Knights of Columbus–333 Beach 90 Street– Rockaway Beach NY 11693