2019 Executive Budget Includes $500,000 in New Funding for the South Fork Commuter Connection

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  23. January 2019

Long Island, NY - January 23, 2019 - Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle today announced that Governor Andrew Cuomo has included an additional $500,000 in the 2019 proposed State Budget for bus shuttle service in connection with the establishment of the South Fork Commuter Connection, which will begin service on March 4. Assemblyman Thiele and Senator LaValle were successful in persuading the State Legislature to add $500,000 to the 2018 State Budget to start this project. This means that there will be $1 million for the bus shuttle component of the new service in 2019 and 2020, if the 2019 State Budget proposal is enacted.
Thiele has lobbied the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) for the expansion of service for commuters to the South Fork since he was Southampton Town Supervisor. In 2018, the LIRR agreed to provide four new trains to institute the service.
The new service will provide two new eastbound trains on the South Fork, during the morning rush and two returning westbound trains during the afternoon rush period. The train service will serve as a commuting alternative to the oppressive and increasing traffic congestion on County Road 39 and Montauk Highway.
Utilizing the state funds, the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton will provide commuters with bus shuttle service from the LIRR stations to their jobs in the morning and return service from work back to the train stations at the end of the day.
The schedules for train service have been finalized. A copy is attached to this press release. The fare for a daily round trip also has been finalized and will be $8.50. The fare includes both the train and bus transportation. The Towns have solicited bids for the shuttle bus service and will be awarding contracts before the end of January.
A press conference announcing all the details of the new service will be held on February 1 at 10 am at the Hampton Bays train station. The press conference will kick off a comprehensive public education and outreach campaign to inform the public about the new service.
Thiele stated, “I am pleased that the Governor has funded the South Fork Commuter Connection bus shuttles in the 2019 Budget. Combined with the 2018 State Budget funds, this first step towards improved public transit on the South Fork will have the resources through 2020 to provide as much service as possible with the chance to grow in the future. We will also be working with the LIRR as part of its next capital plan to provide needed infrastructure such as sidings so that more frequent and convenient service can be provided in the future. I thank the Long Island Rail Road for the vision it has shown and the commitment it has made to establish this new service.”
Senator Ken LaValle said, “This once again illustrates how when governments at all levels work together, we can be successful. The South Fork Commuter Connection is critically important to many segments of the area’s economy. Last year, Assemblyman Thiele and I worked hard to stress the importance of this project and we were successful having it included in the 2018 budget. I am pleased that the work we did last year resulted in the funds being available in this year’s budget as well.” 

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