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The Rockaway Times
Daniel S
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Ticket to Success
By Mike Scala
Last year, I did some law
work in Washington, DC. As a
ten-hour total daily commute
is not my idea of a good time,
I ended up renting a place in
College Park, Maryland. My
greatest escape from the long
hours in the office was the
convenient ride on the Met-
ro. When I boarded the train,
it felt like the Long Island Rail
Road. By the time I arrived in
the city, I was, for all intents
and purposes, on the subway
-- without having to transfer.
Here in New York, we can
learn from Washington. That
is not a sentence that often ap-
pears in print (a Google search
produced no results), and per-
haps for good reason. But when
it comes to transportation, it
holds true.
While it might not be feasible
to combine the railroad with
the subway at this time, we can
and should do all we can to
lower costs. The Queens Pub-
lic Transit Committee fights
tirelessly for the QueensRail, a
name we created to rebrand the
former Rockaway Beach Line
more inclusively. The main
complaint about the LIRR is
its expensive fare, which helps
explain why the subway option
gained so much traction: if our
goal is to bring people together,
let's do it with the system most
can access.
There's another idea worth
supporting, and one that can
become a reality sooner. The
Permanent Citizens Adviso-
ry Committee (PCAC) to the
MTA has proposed the Free-
dom Ticket for railroad travel
that includes a subway or bus
transfer, at a fare discounted
significantly from what such
trips cost now. In some cases,
the savings would approach
fifty percent. After the concept
was presented and discussed,
the Queens Public Transit
Committee voted for it unan-
Most compelling about the
Freedom Ticket plan is the fact
that many LIRR seats are emp-
ty, even during peak hours.
According to the PCAC's find-
ings, twenty-three percent of
seats are unused in the morn-
ing and twenty-six percent
are vacant during the evening
between Jamaica and Penn
Station. Between Jamaica and
Atlantic Terminal those num-
bers rise to forty-nine and six-
ty percent, respectively. This
means more passengers can
be aboard without using addi-
tional resources. For the MTA,
it presents an opportunity to
convert unoccupied seats into
In Rockaway, the Freedom
Ticket can provide another
practical method of traveling
to the city. Inmy conversations
with its architects, who men-
tioned they wanted to roll this
out in so-called transportation
deserts, I urged them not to be
fooled by the water on three
sides. When it comes to Rock-
away's mass transit status, the
only thing missing is a cactus.
With programs like this, and
the new ferry and the eventu-
al QueensRail, however, that is
beginning to turn around.
The infrastructure to im-
prove our mass transit is al-
ready in place. It's now a mat-
ter of making smart decisions
to make it all work together.
Mike Scala is the First Vice
President of the Queens Pub-
lic Transit Committee and co-
chair of the Rockaway Ferry