Suffolk County will begin year-round Sunday bus service on select routes in 2014 for the first time since the public transportation service began six decades ago, county officials said Monday.
Starting Jan. 5, buses will run seven days a week on the following lines: S1, S33, S40, S41, S54, S58, S66 and 3D.
The county's first Sunday bus service began in 2011 on the East End, on the S92 and 10C lines, but has been limited to service from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, according to Suffolk County Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk). Those two lines also are being extended to year-round service.
"My constituents have had Sunday service that we started as a pilot project on the East End, and it's been very successful," said Schneiderman, who said ridership there has increased to about 600 people each Sunday. "Now, these 10 routes will all be interconnected and you'll be able to travel around the county."
Schneiderman, who proposed legislation that passed in April to increase the bus service, said he's been working on plans to bring Sunday bus service to the entire county for nine years.
The 10 bus lines are a part of 24 areas of Suffolk have been deemed "critical" for transportation improvements, like the South Shore Mall in Bay Shore and areas of Brookhaven, which have yet to see additional service.
"We aren't done yet," Schneiderman said. "We're almost halfway there in terms of what the needs are, but we have a long way to go."
For example, the S1 line, which connects Huntington to Amityville, runs north to south through Melville along Route 110, linking to different lines along the Long Island Rail Road as well as stopping at the Walt Whitman Shops, Big H Shopping Center and Farmingdale State College.
The service is expected to cost $2.6 million per year, Schneiderman said. For the first three years, the Federal Transit Administration has promised to cover half of the cost, while $1 million secured from the state will be used this year. The county, which anticipates 400,000 annual riders on Sundays, is seeking additional funding for 2014 from the state, Schneiderman said, which may go in part to expanded Sunday service. Although estimates have not yet been forecast on what the county should expect to gain, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he believes the increased traffic to the county's shopping, restaurant and nightlife districts will bring in added sales tax revenue that will help cushion the expense. The county faces a $250 million deficit through the end of 2014.
"I think the costs don't necessarily reflect the revenues that will be produced by greater economic growth associated with the investment," Bellone said. "You're going to get a lot more economic activity on a Sunday that you normally wouldn't get. We view this as a key ingredient to growing the economy."