Editorial: Make Suffolk Sunday bus service permanent

Suffolk County transit bus No. S92 stops on

Suffolk County transit bus No. S92 stops on North Sea Road in Southampton. (June 2, 2006) (Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

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The time for testing out Sunday bus service in Suffolk County may well be over. Two successful summers of Sunday runs on East End routes offer strong evidence that this service should operate year-round on crucial routes countywide.

The most recent numbers on the two summer routes of Suffolk County Transit, on the North Fork and South Fork, show strong ridership, despite two fare increases.

The reason is obvious. Even at the new East End fare of $2.25, buses are far cheaper than what carless people would have to pay for a taxi. Many workers who keep the affluent East End functioning can't afford to live there. So they come by bus. And the last two summers, they did that on Sundays, too. The success of this pilot, championed by Legis. Jay H. Schneiderman (I-Montauk), shows the need for that service clearly.

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The next step should be an expansion to routes elsewhere in the county. After a study of buses with high Saturday ridership and good connections to other lines, Schneiderman has identified 10 critical routes.

But adding Sunday service there will be tough. Due to its budget woes, Suffolk is using most of the revenue from a countywide fare increase for the general fund, not for expanding service.

So a subsidy from another government source will be needed. The pilots have worked, but this next big step will take a lot of effort. Schneiderman should keep at it and make more Suffolk Sunday bus rides a reality.

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