Bus advocates: Use aid to restore service
Suffolk lawmakers and transit advocates Tuesday pushed efforts to use more than $2 million in new state aid to add Sunday bus service on several routes.
A bill by Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) proposes using new State Transit Operating Assistance Funds in the state budget to finance a one-year test of expanded Sunday service. Only two East End lines operate on Sundays, and only during summer months.
The proposal follows Suffolk County Transit's first systemwide fare hike in 20 years. The cost of a ride increased last May to $2 from $1.50 on most lines. Schneiderman, who chairs the Suffolk Transportation Committee, said at the time that he wished the fare increase came with an increase in services.
"We've already gone to the riders" for additional funds, Schneiderman said at a news conference in Hauppauge Tuesday. "They've done their share. It's time we do something."
Supporters of the bill point to the success of summer service on the S92 and 10C buses, which carried nearly 8,674 people on Sundays and holidays over six weeks last year. Expanding Sunday bus service would help Suffolk's economy by taking people to jobs and shopping, they said.
Schneiderman said he expects the $2 million to pay for Sunday service on at least 10 of Suffolk's busiest routes, and for expanded weekday evening hours on some routes.
Schneiderman has pushed for years for expanded Sunday bus service, but has been stymied by the county's financial crisis. Suffolk is facing a $250 million deficit through the end of 2014.
Ryan Lynch, associate director of the nonprofit Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said that if the county did not put the state transit windfall to good use, future aid could be jeopardized.
"This is an opportunity to actually give riders more for their money," Lynch said.
Schneiderman was joined at the news conference by legislators Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) and Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), who support the bill. Ten votes are needed to pass the bill, which is expected to come up for vote later this spring.