Beginning in March, commuters along the South Fork will have more transportation options through a new system of Long Island Rail Road trains and shuttles.
LIRR and South Fork elected officials gathered in front of the LIRR’s Hampton Bays station on Friday to announce the launch of the South Fork Commuter Connection, which will connect LIRR trains with shuttle services to reduce the region’s traffic congestion and give commuters new travel options.
“This has been a dream on the South Fork for East End officials for more than two decades,” Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said. “We’ve seen study after study . . . we knew that we had to have a good public transit system on the East End, we had to begin having public transit buses and trains as an alternative to the backup on County Road 39.”
The connection service launches March 4, with a joint fare covering trains and shuttles set at $4.25 one way.
The South Fork service — intended for riders traveling within the South Fork — will not connect with trains traveling to or from New York City, making them unique in the LIRR network, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.
“It’s entirely geared to meet the unique needs of the South Fork communities,” LIRR president Phillip Eng said at the news conference.
The service will provide six daily LIRR trains with stops in Speonk, Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk and will operate Monday through Friday year-round. Some trains will connect with "last-mile" shuttle bus service to nearby workplaces and employment centers, according to details on the MTA’s website.
A $500,000 state grant awarded in January will pay for costs incurred by East Hampton and Southampton towns to provide the shuttles.
Local elected officials said they hope the new connection service helps stimulate the region’s economy.
“We all know the traffic on the East End really has impacted people’s commute times,” said East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “This promises to speed up those commute times to help local businesses find and retain staff.”
Suffolk Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack) said a robust public transportation system is critical to the East End’s economic health, and that the new service is a “super exciting step forward” in reaching that goal.
Southampton officials will look into ways to promote the new service and hope it grows in ridership, especially during the busy summer season, Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said after the news conference.
“[The new service] . . . will help recruit workers for our businesses. It will help town employees getting to work, and for all those employees, we’re giving them back a lot of time in their lives,” Schneiderman said.
More information on the service is available at sfccLIRR.com.
From dream to reality
State Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said the Long Island Rail Road’s March 4 launch of its South Fork Commuter Connection “has been a dream on the South Fork for East End officials for more than two decades.” The service is intended only for riders traveling within the South Fork and will not connect with trains traveling to or from New York City, making them unique in the LIRR network.
5 Number of weekdays service will run
6 Number of daily LIRR trains for service
8 Number of communities included in service (Speonk, Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk)
$4.25 Cost of a one-way fare