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Mar 21, 2018 7:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Thiele Includes $500,000 In State Budget For South Fork Trains

Mar 21, 2018 11:16 AM

Southampton and East Hampton towns could be only a few stops short of securing the necessary funds to transport would-be commuters—those who opt to leave their cars at home and take advantage of three additional Long Island Rail Road trains during the morning and evening commutes, once they are offered for the first time in 2019—from the South Fork’s stations to their places of employment, and back.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced last week that the Assembly’s budget proposal includes $500,000 combined for Southampton and East Hampton towns, money that, if approved in the final state budget, would allow the municipalities to offer public transportation from the stations to job centers. The state budget must be adopted by April 1.

He added that, if successful, he intends to include the funding every year for both towns, meaning that Southampton and East Hampton officials would still be responsible for making up the difference—expected to be about $250,000 annually per town. The state funds would be split down the middle each year.

Mr. Thiele explained on Friday that the state funds should cover about half of the anticipated costs of hiring taxis and buses for each town. Southampton and East Hampton town officials could also hire Uber drivers to transport commuters from the train stations.

Figuring out ways to get would-be train riders from the stations to their respective jobs—dubbed “the last mile” of their journeys—is viewed by many as the most critical part of the plan that is intended to ease crushing traffic along County Road 39 and Montauk Highway. The Long Island Rail Road intends to add three additional eastbound trains during the morning rush hour and another three westbound trains during the evening rush hour. The trains, dubbed the "Commuter Connection," would be offered between Speonk and Montauk.

Tom Neely, director of transportation and traffic safety in Southampton Town, said the $500,000 Mr. Thiele is working to secure from the state matches preliminary estimates both South Fork towns came up with in early meetings.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc could not be reached for comment.

The towns have a few options when deciding how to come up with their share of the funding. For example, they can float a bond or allocate money each year from their annual operating budgets. It is also possible that the commuters could be asked to pay a small portion of the cost, according to officials.

Mr. Neely said Southampton and East Hampton towns are discussing the possibilities for the last mile together, explaining that the commuter trains would offer transportation to and from both towns. He added that board members from both municipalities are expected to meet sometime next month to discuss their financial options.

“There’s still a lot to do, but obviously this is a big piece of it,” Mr. Neely said.

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What??? How will people get to their jobs from the train station. Construction workers need tools, office people have to walk or take a taxi [cheaper to pay for gas].
Fred, you and Neely get on the train in the morning and evening and see how many people use the train now. Take all the town and your office workers and make them use the train. Would alleviate the parking problem at the town hall. Blooberg took the subway ONCE...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Mar 21, 18 12:54 PM
What I would like to know is this......
If people are going to take trains to work out east, won't they have to pay the fare?
If so, why would $500,000 be needed?
Could there be something more going on?
By Rayman (64), southampton on Mar 21, 18 3:33 PM
The LIRR operates on a deficit.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Mar 22, 18 11:30 AM
Why in world would the towns spend money on buses, taxes, and Uber cars? Sure, a few more trains would help, but the real problem is that there's no parking at the train stations. Everyone who would commute via train from Southampton or East Hampton already has a car, they just need a place to park it!
By rpd (5), Southampton on Mar 22, 18 12:48 PM