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Sunday Bus Service for East End Overwhelmingly Approved by Legislature

Under plan, fares would be increased on S92 and 10C from $1.50 to $2 to fund Sunday service.

After a previous attempt to offer Sunday bus service couldn't make it past the county executive's desk, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, I-Montauk, gained overwhelming support for an East End-only proposal, which passed the legislature by a 16-1 vote on Tuesday night. 

The change in service would hike fares on the S92 and 10C routes from $1.50 per ride to $2. If signed into law, a pilot program for the routes will be offered, starting service on July 3, to make sure the program will be self-sustaining. 

The S92 runs from East Hampton to Orient, running through Riverhead, and the 10C runs from Montauk to East Hampton. 

Legislators Schneiderman and Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, at the County Center in Riverside to call for support of the bill, which they say is particularly needed for the East End's working class, which depends on tourism dollars during summer months. 

"Our economy is built on a seven-day work week," said Southold Supervisor Scott Russell on Friday. "People need public transit, and our system right now is woefully inadequate."

Some riders, though, expressed concern over the relative sharp increase (33 percent). Schneiderman has pointed out the fare has not been raised in 19 years. 

"I don't know how many working class people can afford it," said Ed Grienke, a Medford resident who said he relies on the bus. "I spend $4.50 to $6.00 a day on the bus. It may not sound like a lot, but if you increase the rates and count that per ride, it adds up."

The fare hike, if signed into law by County Executive Steve Levy, will begin on June 17. 

Schneiderman's prior proposal for Sunday bus service, which was vetoed by Levy in January, would have offered service from the East End to western Suffolk. Though not all legislative districts would have received Sunday service, all bus fares were proposed to be raised, partly the reason the legislature failed to override Levy's veto. Levy and Schneiderman also didn't see eye to eye on their financial projections for the increase in service — Levy said the increase in service would cost $1 per ride, double Schneiderman's projection.

Dan Aug, spokesman for the county executive, issued the following statement in an email: "The county executive is reviewing the legislation. The administration had asked the legislature to table the measure until a survey of riders could be conducted, but our request was denied. We will consider doing our own survey next week to gauge ridership opinion."

While it remains unknown if Levy will veto the measure, 12 votes are required for an override, four fewer than the 16 obtained on Tuesday. 

Schneiderman said on Wednesday that even if the county executive wanted to conduct a survey - even though he said a recent study has already suggested Sunday service  - the votes he earned probably makes the plan "veto-proof."

"This has been studied," Schneiderman said on Wednesday. "A lot of it comes out to how do you ask the question? If you ask people if they want their fares to go up, they will probably say no. If you ask if they want Sunday service, they will probably say yes ... Either way, it's not going tchange my opinion at this point. I've done enough data gathering to know that this is a solid plan."

Jerry King March 23, 2011 at 11:29 AM
I do not ride the bus, so I will not voice an opinion regarding the proposed Sunday bus service. I do; however, kind of like the idea of taking a survey of riders and letting THEM decide if the accompanying fare increase is in their best interests. Thank you, Steve Levy.
Bob March 23, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Last year, Levy hired a transportation consultant to do a comprehensive bus route and schedule analysis. Among other service enhancements, the report recommended the addition of Sunday and holiday service. Levy already knows that Sunday and holiday service is needed. Why does Levy suddenly need to do a survey now? He's already got the answers -- unless, of course, he wants to ask biased questions to guarantee a biased survey in support of his mean-spirited opposition to providing mobility to thousands of Suffolk residents. If Levy is so concerned about not raising the fares, he can contribute more county money to our current bare bones system. He prefers, instead, to spend money on widening public roads (Country Roads 58 & 39, for examples) that require people, whenever there is snow, to put their lives in danger by forcing anyone who needs public transportation to walk in the middle of a highway (in the same lanes as the cars -- I've done it and it's very frightening). If Levy really wanted to put his money where his mouth is (so to speak), he would spend his time advocating for Suffolk to get a fair share of state and MTA subsidies so fares wouldn't have to increase. Levy's time would be much better spent fighting for us instead of against us.
Margaret Brown March 23, 2011 at 04:23 PM
What fabulous news! It's been a long time in coming, but better late than never. Sunday bus service, even with a 5o cent fare increase, is a huge victory for the people who live on the East End. Now people can get to Sunday jobs, church, and recreational activities. And it's a bargain compared to taxi fares or just not getting there at all. Also remember, the fare for Seniors & disabled, remains at 50 cents. Thank you County Legislature!
John Rooney March 23, 2011 at 04:56 PM
Excellent move - this is the direction in which we should be moving - a real boost to quality of life, and help for the environment by cutting into the number of cars on our roads. John Rooney, Southold.
Joseph Pinciaro (Editor) March 23, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Hi Bob - I was able to track down the bus study and attach it as a .pdf on here if you - or anybody else - would like to look at it further. Thanks to Mr. Taldone for that. - Joe
Benja Schwartz March 23, 2011 at 06:34 PM
The Suffolk County bus transportation study refers to Riverhead, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Southampton, etc. Southold and Shelter Island are not even mentioned.
Joseph Pinciaro (Editor) March 23, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Check out page 39. "Operate the S92 on Sundays." No mention of Shelter Island, but increases in the S92 would affect Southold.
MikeLI March 26, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Hey John, Would you like it if we used oxen, like some Third World Countries do ? Let's start this NO CAR "Environmental" plan by you selling your car and walking wherever you have to go ! Sound ok to you ?
John Rooney March 26, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Hey, Mike -- Relax. This move also opens up a helpful option, both for those people who can drive, as well as for those who for economic, health, or age related reasons are unable to drive. John.
Vince Taldone March 26, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Mike, I've not heard of nor advocate for a No Car plan of any kind. However, no one is advocating for the expansion of our country roads to handle more and more of then either. On the east end, we need to encourage the greatest use of public transit that we can. You've already seen the beautiful CRs 39 and 58 (not) with curb to curb lanes. Do we want more of that further east? I certainly don't. So, if we can get even some people to take the bus, we make room for YOU to drive on less congested roads. Enjoy your car and I'l enjoy my ride on the bus. Of course, there are many who live here who simply can't drive due to age or disabilities not to mention economics and we need a way to get around too. Cars and public buses can be accommodated together and will best take care of all our communities' mobility needs. This isn't wild environmental nonsense. It is a common sense approach to transit. Vince

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