Government can work. The towns of East Hampton and Southampton are proving it and so are our two state representatives
While Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle have secured state funding as well as pledges from the Long Island Rail Road for increased rush-hour train service to and from the South Fork, planning staff from the towns have been busy behind the scenes working on the details of a “Last Mile” commuter connection to deliver riders directly to and from their jobs
If all goes according to plan, the towns will soon finalize a joint request for proposals (RFP) to seek bidders who can deliver commuters to and from local train stations directly to and from their places of work at the beginning and end of their work days beginning early in 2019.
It’s not yet clear how it would work. That all depends on the details of the RFP and whatever the bidders propose. An experimental service in 2007 and 2008 relied on shuttle busses running between stations to local business districts, but it did not take workers directly to their jobs.
More parking spaces at train stations to the west and more sidings to let the LIRR run more trains on its single South Fork track will also be part of the long-term plan. The goal is to put a dent in the “trade parade,” the exploding flow of drivers who work here but can’t possibly afford to live here. The trade parade, which seems worse and worse every year, is intolerable at times for employees, employers and local drivers. It’s a blight on our quality of life and a drag on the regional economy.
Workers from points west who understandably enjoy the convenience of having their own cars should rally around this proposal. The hope is more people will take the train from, say, Westhampton — well before the South Fork highway logjam begins — to Southampton, Bridgehampton or East Hampton, if they could catch a ride right to work and back to the station at the end of the day.
Our state officials, and both towns — working together to address a regional problem — are proving what government can do when it is run by competent officials and staff who strive to serve the public good.