Commuter Connection to Return Tuesday

The South Fork Commuter Connection, providing regular Long Island Rail Road train service and connecting busses in Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton Village, Amagansett and Montauk, is returning Sept. 7 after a hiatus since March of 2020 due to the pandemic, which wreaked budgetary havoc on the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The program, originally made possible by state funding advocated by South Fork State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, began in the late winter of 2019 as an attempt to relieve rush hour traffic congestion on the South Fork.

The service will run Monday through Friday between Speonk and Montauk on the Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, and one-way tickets for the train and the connecting bus are $3.25 each way.

The SFCC provides commuters with two “morning rush” eastbound trains and two “afternoon rush” westbound trains, stopping in Speonk, Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk. “Last mile” shuttle services are included as part of the service to facilitate the commute and will bring riders to the Villages, hamlets and employment centers. Late afternoon bus and train services will return riders to their stations of origin.

The schedule is online here.

All South Fork Commuter Connection trains are considered by the MTA to be Off-Peak, and bicycles may be brought on board, in accordance with LIRR bike policies.

For customers traveling within Zone 14 (Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk), the LIRR fare is $3.25 each way. Riders can purchase their LIRR tickets via the following methods: vending machines at stations, via the MTA eTix app, and via mail. Riders can also purchase daily, weekly and monthly passes.

For Speonk customers, in order to take advantage of the $3.25 fare, they must purchase a special SFCC ticket from a Full-Service Ticket Machine at Speonk, Westhampton, Hampton Bays or Southampton. The ticket can be found under the “Deals & Getaways” menu on the main screen and selecting “Long Island Getaways” followed by South Fork Commuter Connection. The $3.25 fare includes the train service and local “last mile” shuttle service.

For more detailed information on the SFCC, visit https://new.mta.info/article/south-fork-commuter-connection

The ridership gains on the Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road were substantial during the time the service was in operation. The MTA reported 33,284 trips on the branch in 2019, up from 14,725 in 2018 — a 126 percent increase. The agency attributed 73 percent of this increase to the new commuter trains.

“The restoration of this critical service will provide much needed relief for our workforce commuters,” said South Fork State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who helped spearhead both the original project and its return this year. “With the dramatic increase of traffic on the East End as a result of the pandemic and people fleeing to the East End, this service is needed now more than ever. I thank my state and local partners, as well as LIRR President Phil Eng, for their continued commitment to the SFCC.”

“This critical line of transportation accommodates workers on the East End while also reducing traffic and pollution on our roads,” said Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming at the Aug. 27 announcement of the return of the service. “I commend all stakeholders involved in reinstating this important service for the community and improving the availability of public transportation throughout Suffolk County. I am especially grateful to Assemblyman Fred Thiele for his leadership, and am grateful to Phil Eng on the LIRR for restoring this critically important service.”

“Any chance we have to get commuters out of their cars and onto public transit while reducing traffic is a win-win-win for customers, communities, and our environment,” said Mr. Eng, the President of the Long Island Rail Road. “This partnership with local East End officials is a true testament on how we can work together to improve the quality of life for so many. As we strive to continue to support the needs of Long Island and local businesses, we’re thrilled to restore this service that will allow more people to sit back, relax on the railroad and leave the driving to us.”

“Our road system was never meant to handle the volume of traffic we are now experiencing,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “Traffic is impacting every aspect of our lives, from congesting neighborhood backroads to making it hard for businesses to recruit employees. The railroad, matched with the town shuttle buses, provide a fast and affordable way to get to work.” 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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