Evidence of overcrowding on a popular Montauk-bound train has a state lawmaker calling for the Long Island Rail Road to provide better service to -- and within -- the East End.
Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said in a news release Friday that the LIRR should increase the number of express trains between Manhattan and the Hamptons. He also called on the railroad to introduce small shuttle trains to provide public transportation within the North Fork and South Fork next year.
Thiele said the LIRR has not taken steps to implement the so-called "scoot" service on the East End, even though the State Legislature allocated $37.2 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2012 for the small diesel equipment necessary to make the shuttle possible on the non-electrified tracks east of Ronkonkoma.
"In the meantime, the limited service that is currently being provided is overcrowded and our local roads are choked with traffic," Thiele said. "The result is unsafe train conditions and increased accidents on our local roads."
Thiele's statements follow an Aug. 17 CBS 2 News video showing crowded conditions aboard a Friday afternoon Cannonball express train from Penn Station to Montauk. LIRR officials said the next day that they would take extra safety measures, including adding personnel, to address the crowding.
An MTA spokesman said Friday that the LIRR runs 10 trains each Friday to eastern Long Island. He said the railroad cannot provide more due to a lack of train cars and limitations of the single track stretching from Babylon to Montauk.
"We would love to run more trains to the East End during the peak period of travel demand on Friday afternoon," MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. "And we would if we could, but we're limited by the amount of train cars that we have available."
For years, Thiele has advocated for the creation of a Peconic Bay Transportation Authority to replace the MTA in Long Island's five eastern towns: East Hampton, Southampton, Riverhead, Southold and Shelter Island. Thiele said Friday that he would renew the push if the MTA and LIRR "continue to ignore the needs of the East End."