Long Island Rail Road officials have agreed to seek the restoration of year-round weekend service on the North Fork and explore adding rush-hour trains on the South Fork, state lawmakers said.
Railroad representatives agreed this month to take those and other measures amid calls by local officials to improve public transportation on the increasingly traffic-choked East End, the legislators said in a letter Monday.
Three East End lawmakers sent the letter to LIRR president Patrick Nowakowski outlining the measures agreed upon at a July 8 meeting between railroad, local and county officials at Riverhead Town Hall.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your participation and willingness to help advance our public transportation needs on the East End,” said the letter from Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Assemb. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk).
“This is the first time that I’m really optimistic that we’re going to be able to get this kind of service on a permanent basis,” Thiele said in an interview Tuesday. “It seems like a real policy shift.”
An MTA spokesman declined Tuesday to comment on the letter.
LIRR officials agreed at the meeting to recommend restoring year-round weekend service next year to Greenport, which now stops in the winter, the legislators said. The move would require approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.
Railroad and South Fork officials will also “establish a planning process immediately” to increase morning and evening rush-hour commuter service between Speonk and Montauk, the letter said.
Those were the key measures among several outlined in the letter, which also called on the county bus system to have a role in getting riders to and from railroad stations.
Thiele and Nowakowski had a preliminary meeting in May to discuss the East End’s public transportation needs, as officials report worsening traffic congestion on both the North and South forks.
“There’s been a real shift and a real interest in the East End” by LIRR officials, Thiele said Tuesday. “To me, this is exciting.”