On Sunday, I took the aptly named Rockabus from Williamsburg to Rockaway Beach to spend my hangover baking in the sun. While the trip was free as part of a launch promotion, the regular price for the new bus service is $10 one way and $18 round trip. Worth it?
This much I can say: Rockaway is definitely worth the day trip, or several, with its supply of seaside snacks and hang-ten amenities. While the Hipster Hamptons rep may be overstated, the demographic does skew pretty young, with a lot of twenty-something floppy hat wearers and even younger hardcore surfers. The average beachcomber was sporting at least one tattoo, and while ordinarily I would say the coast was pretty quiet and family friendly, two girls did get chewed out by Parks & Rec for having their Ts out, until they cited that law safeguarding topless women in New York.
As for the bus itself? I’ll let you be the judge with these pros and cons:
No transfers. In my mind, the number one rationale for taking the Rockabus to Far Rockaway rather the far cheaper subway ride is convenience. Particularly if you already live in Williamsburg, making your way to the stop on Union under the BQE is a cinch, particularly with towel and surfboard in tow (you can bring a surfboard on board for no additional charge). Getting off the bus and walking the five steps to the boardwalk is even easier.
Atmosphere. Rockabus is a self-described “fun friendly” service, which was announced after the attendant suggested bringing a few beers for the trip back to Brooklyn. The vibe was as close to “party bus” as you can get on a cloudy Sunday AM. The staff was accommodating, chill, and–it should be noted–very attractive, which made the ride a pleasant one. Riding in the bumpy backseat of a big yellow school bus is also a thrill that should be relived at least once post-childhood.
Future services. One of the staffers mentioned potential future service to Fort Tilden and discounts to restaurants in the area, so stay tuned!
Travel time. The Rockabus took almost exactly 50 minutes in both directions, between Union/Meeker Ave. and Beach 86th Street. From the same location, it would take about one hour on the subway according to ever reliable Google Maps. While this is a slightly longer trip, you can determine your own timeline, which brings me to my next point.
Prearranged return time. In order to ensure that they don’t overbook return trips, the Rockabus requires that you choose your return trip upon departure. While I am a sucker for pre-planning, none of the return options really suited my schedule with the two hour span in between them cramping my style.
Drop-off location. The Beach 86th Street drop-off location has bathrooms — not to be underestimated — and a small food stand. When you’re stricken with an ice-cream craving, though, there aren’t a ton of options. My friend and I ventured off the beaten path to Holland Avenue, where we loaded up on Butterfinger Edy’s and whipped cream, but the area was otherwise pretty much abandoned. If we’d had this handy map of food and drink locations, we wouldn’t have been relegated to overpriced, freezer burnt nosh from aisle 12.
Cost. $10 versus a $2.50 MetroCard swipe is a pretty steep incline, and in my experience, the pros don’t really outweigh the cons. For the Brokelyn reader in particular, the price point is a huge letdown. While the Rockabus was fun, bringing a few beers on the subway could be equally fun and saves you $7.50.