Desperately needed track repairs are causing what Gov. Andrew Cuomo dubbed the “summer of hell” for Long Island Rail Road commuters. There are conflicting reports about whether the delays and disruptions have played out as predicted. Some LIRR riders say yes — their commute is downright disastrous, mainly because of overcrowding. Other say not so much.
What this summer makes abundantly clear is the need to develop transportation alternatives into Manhattan.
One idea is a Nassau County ferry service based on the South Shore, which would transport Long Island commuters into the city from a community such as Inwood in the Five Towns. On July 23, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, and State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller, a Republican from Atlantic Beach, sent a letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota, urging him to consider this as a long-term plan. At the very least, we believe, the proposal should be vetted and receive serious consideration.
State officials moved quickly to set up a short-term North Shore ferry service that launches out of Glen Cove this summer. Thus far, people are loving it, saying that it provides a scenic and refreshing ride into Lower Manhattan. The service drops commuters in the heart of the Wall Street district: no pushing and shoving in Penn Station, no squeezing into subway cars.
Nassau County’s South Shore, at the very least, deserves equal treatment. For all we know, the LIRR/Penn Station repair project could extend into 2018. Now is the time to begin planning for such a contingency, and perhaps even set up a permanent ferry service. While Kaminsky and Miller suggested Inwood, there are other South Shore communities where a ferry service could be developed.
Currently, there is a 55-minute ferry service run by the New York City Ferry system that leaves Rockaway for Manhattan. Our local communities, however, need and deserve a ferry closer to home to offer commuters a sound mode of transportation during times of crisis such a major power outage (the LIRR, after all, cannot run without electricity), and ultimately provide them with a better quality of life.