More Commuting Options Open for Far Rockaway

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The MTA has an A Train shuttle in Far Rockaway from Howard Beach station to Mott Ave. The MTA has an A Train shuttle in Far Rockaway from Howard Beach station to Mott Ave. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Hurricane Sandy filled the roads on the Far Rockaway peninsula with sand, debris and downed power lines. As roads became cleared, the MTA began operating local buses during daylight hours, until recently when more lighting has become available and they’ve been able to run later buses. And while subway service was restored to most of the city, the A train, the only subway in the area, remains too damaged to reopen.

This has meant residents have been finding creative ways to get around. For some, that means taking Dollar vans to local buses to subway stations. But starting Sunday, the MTA began operating an express shuttle bus from Mott Avenue to the Howard Beach station. And Monday morning a ferry service will run from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive from 5:45 a.m. to Pier 11 on Wall Street and East 34th Street. The last ferry will depart at 8:45 p.m.

Mike Defara, 46, took the new shuttle Sunday afternoon. He was heading back to his security job in Harlem, after just returning from his night shift. His time is already tight, but with delays in service, his 1.5 hour commute has doubled to nearly three hours. And when he gets home at night, his area is still pitch black.

“You don’t know whether you’re going to get home alive or not,” he said. “People who get off at 12 and get out here at the Rockaways after midnight, how are they going to get home?”

The MTA said recently there are enough lights at night to have late local bus service. But many residents complained that there are no late buses.

In Far Rockaway, once you get down to the peninsula, not far from Mott Ave., there are no traffic lights. Traffic guards direct traffic. And with all the relief efforts, the traffic gets pretty bad. There are LIPA trucks, various other power crews, Red Cross, National Guard and local food trucks all snarling traffic.

And the new shuttle bus is heading down roads that don’t usually see MTA buses.

“It's pretty tight,” bus operator Vince Stone said. “But the motorists have been helpful, you tap the horn, they know what's going on,” he said, swerving around an immobile car.

Far Rockaway residents like Kabar Smith, 41, is getting reacquainted with the MTA since the storm. He usually gets around by car, but is taking buses and subways now. He gives the MTA a 7 out of 10. “But LIPA,” he said. “They need to fire all the bigwigs.”


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Comments [2]

Peter Rosen from Manhattan

As a kid I spent the summers of the 60's and early 70's on Beach 24th St. I have alot of fond memories of the beach, boardwalk, family and friends of the bungalows. Every once in a while drive by to see if 173 Beach 24th is still there and pause for a moment and imagine my grandparents on the front pourch (the pourch has since been enclosed). I hope next time I visit the bungalow is still standing.

Nov. 20 2012 01:11 AM
Alan Lebow from Far Rockaway

I heard your report this morning and it was the first story specifically for the lower Rockaways. Good job and thanks. I have four bungalows in Far Rockaway at 24 and 25th Streets. Three of them are rented and two of these took on about 3 feet of water. I must get these bungalows assessed for mold and electricity and I know that each has boilers and water heaters that need repair or replacement. My issue comes down to this: I am not able to afford to fix these major damages from this storm, probably forcing families with no resource out into the street. I'd have to close the bungalows up for the winter, loosing income at the end as well. I know that one of these families have no where to go, and in my heart, I just don't know what to do. They can't live in them as they are and I have no funds to fix and supply heat even with the electricity comes on.. by the way, you know that residents of Far Rockaway are of the last to get noticed and still have no electricity.. they are getting sick and are emotionally devastated. I know that the media attention went to where they can find the pictures that attract attention, Far Rockaway wan't the place and got no attention from anyone but volunteers until just recently.
One bungalow is OK, the one that my folks lived in before they passed away, and I turned to OccupySandy folks to help me make it a center for supplies where we were giving out cleaning supplies, diapers, food, batteries.. what ever we could get our hands on… and now we're looking to form a cultural center for people in the neighborhood to continue to go for supplies, information and friendly conversation with a tilt toward cultural issues and concerns. We're bringing in medical attention as well. I'd love to have you follow up on this as we need all the help we can get.

Nov. 17 2012 01:03 PM

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