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Help arrives for commuters, needed for heat

2 buses added for peak commuters

Suffolk County Transit has added two buses to an existing line to expedite Sound Beach commuters’ travels during morning and evening peak hours.

The westbound 5A bus, as of Monday, will stop at Echo and New York avenues at 7:08 a.m., connecting riders with another bus line at the Port Jefferson train station at 7:32 a.m., Suffolk County Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson said. From there, commuters can catch a Penn Station-bound train and arrive in Manhattan before 9 a.m.

The bus rescheduling makes the commute to Smith Haven Mall and the Hauppauge Industrial Park easier, as well as the commute into the city, Sound Beach Civic Association president Bea Ruberto said.

Suffolk County, which oversees the bus service, worked with Brookhaven Town board members and the Sound Beach Civic Organization to add the new runs.

“I’ve been working on this for two years. There are other things that need to be done, but right now, I’m elated,” Ruberto said Wednesday.

Sound Beach years ago was primarily a summer destination, but has grown to an area consisting of young families and seniors, she said.

The change also affects the eastbound 5A bus, which departs the Port Jefferson train station at 6:28 p.m., arriving at Echo and New York avenues by 6:46 p.m.

“This will help people get to and from work better,” Anderson said.

Before the change, the last bus departed from the station at 5:23 p.m., making it difficult for residents to get home, Ruberto said.

“This is a small community that relies on public transportation,” said Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai). “Due to increased population on the east end of Long Island, the need for bus service has also increased.”

Feds urged to release $35M for heating aid

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the federal government to immediately release $35 million in home heating aid so thousands of New Yorkers could get assistance with their energy bills in the frigid weather.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program served almost 74,796 households in Nassau and Suffolk counties last winter.

“This heating assistance is desperately needed,” Schumer said Wednesday. “Millions of seniors and other families are going to struggle to keep warm this winter.”

Schumer said the Department of Health and Human Services typically holds back some money in case there are cold stretches in February or March.

But early frigid temperatures this year meant greater need. He said Congress would allocate additional money.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately return calls for comment.

Schumer said he would fight to reverse cuts made to the federally funded program since 2009.

New York’s appropriation has been slashed almost 35 percent since then, to $351 million this winter from $538 million in 2009.

The average grant award has dropped to $308 from $417 as demand for the program and heating costs have increased, Schumer wrote in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee.


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