New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. recently revealed that the 2018 State Budget features $500,000 that will be allotted to the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton in support of “Last Mile” transportation, as part of the South Fork Commuter Connection.
Scheduled to begin in February 2019, the South Fork Commuter Connection would offer commuter service from Speonk to Montauk during the week days, year-round. The LIRR has tentatively committed to provide three east bound trains in the morning and three westbound trains in the afternoon for those working on the South Fork, which would be funded through the LIRR budget.
“The final approval of state funding for ‘last mile’ connections brings commuter rail service for South Fork workers closer to reality. The benefits are substantial,” Assemblyman Thiele explained. “The plan will reduce traffic congestion to the South Fork, including the adverse impacts from automobile congestion on the environment.”
The “last mile” service – which would aid commuters get from the train stations to their work place – is an essential aspect of the plan. This responsibility would fall on the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton, who would partner with one or more transportation companies to provide bus shuttles, ride sharing, taxis or a combination. The Town is expected to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this service during the summer of 2018.
The cost of the “last mile” service would be shared by the State and the Towns, and the $500,000 approved in the 2018 State Budget would be used to cover the State’s share of “last mile” transportation.
“The service will also make it easier for South Fork businesses to recruit and retain employees by providing an alternative, faster, and less stressful commute to the South Fork,” Assemblyman Thiele added. “I thank LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for supporting this initiative.”