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Feb 1, 2019 3:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

South Fork Commuter Connection To Kick Off In March

State and local officials met with Long Island Rail Road officials at the Hampton Bays train station on Friday to announce March 4 as the official start date of the South Fork Commuter Connection. GREG WEHNER
Feb 5, 2019 5:17 PM

Local and state officials joined Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng at the Hampton Bays train station on Friday morning to announce March 4 as the official start date of the South Fork Commuter Connection.

The LIRR is adding six additional trains per day east of Speonk, with three one-way trips in the morning and three in the afternoon, with a goal of providing a new public transportation option to help alleviate auto traffic during the morning and afternoon commutes.

“We’ve been watching traffic for years increasingly grow on the main road … and we’ve been looking for ways to get our workforce to work in a reasonable amount of time,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said at the press conference. “There’s only two roads that go across the Shinnecock Canal, which is Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway, and you see the traffic backed up every morning.”

For $4.25 each way, commuters will be able to take the LIRR to Southampton Village, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk, and then to board connector shuttles offered by the Hampton Hopper and Hampton Jitney to help get them from the train stations to selected workplaces, and back again in the afternoon.

The first new eastbound train will leave Speonk at 6:16 a.m. and finish its last stop at 7:08 a.m. in Amagansett. The second train will leave Hampton Bays at 8:26 a.m. and come to a halt in Montauk at 9:19 a.m. The third eastbound train will leave Speonk at 3 p.m. and stop in Montauk at 4:14 p.m.

Three new westbound trains also are being added, with the first leaving Amagansett at 7:27 a.m. and stopping in Hampton Bays at 8:01 a.m. The second westbound train will leave Montauk at 2:48 p.m. and stop in Speonk at 4:14 p.m., and the third will leave Montauk at 4:50 p.m. and stop in Hampton Bays at 5:43 p.m.

Riders getting off in Southampton will be offered two shuttles with different routes, making stops at places like Town Hall, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, Stony Brook University, Southampton middle and high schools, and various intersections. The shuttles will begin at 6:45 a.m. and 8:36 a.m. Pickups at those same locations will begin at 3 and 5 p.m.

Bridgehampton riders will be offered morning shuttles at 6:53 a.m. and 8:46 a.m., and afternoon shuttles starting at 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Stops for Bridgehampton riders include Bridgehampton High School, Pierson High School, Sag Harbor Main Street and the Bridgehampton Commons.

The LIRR trains will arrive in East Hampton Village at 7:03 a.m. and 8:54 a.m., and will leave westbound at 3:12 p.m. and 5:14 p.m. Shuttles will drop riders off at spots that include JM Elementary School, East Hampton High School, East Hampton Middle School, Citarella’s, East Hampton Town Hall, Springs School and East Hampton Fire Department. Shuttles picking up riders heading westbound will start their routes at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Amagansett riders will have shuttles waiting for them when they arrive at 7:10 a.m. and 9:05 a.m. The shuttles will make stops in places like the Amagansett library, Town Community Development Office, Cirillo’s market, Ocean Vista Resort, Gurney’s Resort, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, Gurney’s Dock and West Lake Drive. Shuttles will begin picking riders up at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to head back to the Amagansett train station, for trains that leave at 3:07 p.m. and 5:09 p.m.

Details and specific times can be found by visiting www.sfcclirr.com

Multiple calls to the Hampton Hopper and Hampton Jitney seeking specifics on the resources that each company will provide were not returned.

Mr. Eng said the towns will be providing the transportation for the last mile—from the train station to places of employment—and he assured riders that the schedules have been coordinated to work in conjunction with each other.

“It’s entirely geared to meet the unique needs of the South Fork communities,” he said. “The railroad, we know, is critical to supporting economic growth on Long Island, and we remain committed to the quality of life issues … for the communities we serve.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc echoed Mr. Eng’s statements, saying the commuter train will be an opportunity to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the community.

“We all know the traffic on the East End really has impacted people’s commute times,” he said. “This promises to speed up those commute times—to help local businesses find and retain staff. We hope that we can build this service and make more efficient use of transportation.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said he has been working to implement a commuter rail to the East End since 1994, when he was the Southampton Town supervisor.

Many attempts were made, he said, to have it come to fruition, but it was not until 2005 when local municipalities on the East End signed a memorandum of understanding to identify issues with transportation and traffic and find ways to improve them.

After that, a four-year planning process took place where input was provided from all five towns on the East End and a local group was formed to develop the “East End Shuttle,” Mr. Thiele said.

“Needless to say, it has been a long and winding road, and I am thrilled this idea has finally come to fruition,” he said in a press release.

On Friday, Mr. Thiele received praise for his work from local officials.

“It really has been a partnership, a team effort, to get this done,” he said. “It is a pleasure, after all of these years, to be here with the president of the Long Island Rail Road, with my partner in Albany, State Senator Ken LaValle, to be able to announce that this service is finally going to begin on March 4.”

Suffolk County officials were also instrumental in getting the additional trains to run on the East End.

County Legislator Bridget Fleming said she has been fighting for years, at the county level, to get the public transportation system up to a point where it could benefit the economic health of the East End.

“This is a super-exciting step forward that we are all looking forward to,” she said. “It’s going to add to a system that we’ve had a very hard time getting up and running at the public bus level. We’ve worked very, very hard with limited resources, to make public transportation a priority, but this is what’s going to bolster it and really start moving the East End forward.”

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Kudos to all for accomplishing this important first step!

Also a hat tip to the fine folks of Five Town Rural Transit who floated the issues onto the radar screen many many years ago. [5trt dot org]

Well done, all!

PS -- Earlier article not yet linked above:
2013: http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/East-End/28245/Southampton-Town-Officials-Float-Ideas-To-Help-Alleviate-Traffic-Following-Serious-Accidents
[see related articles linked at the top of this article]
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 1, 19 4:02 PM
Jay, please inform your staff to take the train to work to increase the rider ship for a hole in the water....
How much did you spend for your public transportation director$$$
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Feb 1, 19 6:44 PM
Hope he adjusts staffs work schedule to match train schedule or the trains will be useless for town hall workers.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Feb 1, 19 9:32 PM
Another dumb idea that will quietly go away before the end of this year.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 19 6:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a lot of people have said is "I hope a lot of people take the train so the road is less congested so I can drive". Nobody wants to be stuck at work with no car and suddenly there is an emergency at home. There needs to be a bunch of shuttles in order for this to work as people still work at Supermarkets, Real Estate Stores, small shops etc. not just Town Hall, Schools, and the hospital. BUT at least something so kudos.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Feb 1, 19 11:20 PM
It's also hard carrying a twenty-foot ladder on and off a train.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Feb 1, 19 11:22 PM
but if office workers, teachers, hospital workers take the train & shuttles, that will reduce the overall number of vehicles on the road, thus still benefitting the tradespeople who need to have their trucks/trailers/vans to carry the 20-foot ladders. I certainly plan to take advantage of not needing to drive from HB to Southampton every day.
By MrsD (53), Hampton Bays on Feb 4, 19 10:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
Nice program but traffic unlikely to change as trade parade dominates.

Everyone needs to face the real issue is that the existing roads from Sunrise to Montauk are totally inadequate. Real solutions needed such as wider roads, smart lights, pedestrian walkways, am/pm one way roads, etc.

COUNTY and TOWNS need to address this issue from now until resolved!

The fools who voted against the by-pass years ago should sit in year round traffic, but most have left the area.
By Amagansett Voter (62), Amagansett on Feb 2, 19 12:15 PM
No reason we can't look like Rockaway. We also need sidewalks and high-rises everywhereso we look like modern America. Oh, and bring on the big box stores and fast food joints.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Feb 3, 19 8:01 AM
You’re in trouble if the LIRR and the MTA are your solution.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Feb 2, 19 12:30 PM
Bicycles are allowed onboard the trains. I live 2 miles from the HBays RR station and it’s a 7 minute ride. By car during the gridlock season, the same trip takes 20 minutes, plus finding a parking space and walking to train.
By Non-Political (125), Hampton Bays on Feb 2, 19 4:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
By passes and additional roads won’t fix it for long. Do you know where they have lots of roads? Cities. Lots of traffic there. You just make the parking lot bigger.
By greenmonster (20), southampton on Feb 3, 19 9:36 AM
This solves a lot issues. While the trades will still need to bring in their equipment, the workers in the towns, schools, hospitals as well as retail, supermarkets will all benefit from this. It also solves the "affordability issue". The homes values are much more reachable in Hampton Bays and further west. HB and points up the line can further transform.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Feb 4, 19 6:13 AM
This solves a lot issues. While the trades will still need to bring in their equipment, the workers in the towns, schools, hospitals as well as retail, supermarkets will all benefit from this. It also solves the "affordability issue". The homes values are much more reachable in Hampton Bays and further west. HB and points up the line can further transform.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Feb 4, 19 6:13 AM
Is there a link to the timetable/schedule? Thanks!
By Agawam Yacht Club (69), Southampton on Feb 4, 19 9:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
There's also a link on this page for the shuttle service info.
By MrsD (53), Hampton Bays on Feb 6, 19 4:15 PM
Odds of dying in a train accident are 431,800 to 1.
Odds of dying in a roller coaster accident are 750,000,000 to 1.
I'll take the roller coaster, much much safer.
By themarlinspike (542), southampton on Feb 4, 19 10:43 AM
$8.50 a day round trip is ridiculously high. $5.00 sounds reasonable and affordable.
By A Great American (103), East Quogue on Feb 10, 19 10:03 PM