Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced this week that the Assembly’s budget plan includes $500,000 in funding for shuttle service as part of the South Fork Commuter Connection initiative.
Under the proposal, the Long Island Rail Road would add up to three additional eastbound trains each weekday morning between Speonk and Montauk to provide an alternative mode of transportation for people who would otherwise find themselves stuck in “the trade parade” of heavy commuter traffic on Sunrise Highway. Three westbound trains would be added in the afternoon as well.
The railroad has planned to launch the new year-round service in February 2019.
“We continue to get closer to making commuter rail service for South Fork workers a reality,” Mr. Thiele said in a release. “The benefits are substantial. The plan will reduce traffic congestion to the South Fork, including the adverse impacts from automobile congestion on the environment. The service will also make it easier for South Fork businesses to recruit and train employees by providing an alternative, faster and less stressful commute.”
As part of the plan, Southampton and East Hampton towns have agreed to provide shuttle service connecting local train stations to major employment centers such as Southampton Hospital, schools and town halls to make it more convenient for people to cover the “last mile” of their daily commutes. The service would be provided by buses, ride sharing or taxis.
The funding from the state is expected to cover half of the cost of providing the shuttle service, but before the towns receive the money, both the state Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo will have to sign off on the expenditure.