South Fork Commuter Connection Begins March 4

The South Fork Commuter Connection, a new shared project between the Long Island Rail Road and the towns of East Hampton and Southampton, kicks off on Monday, March 4, and public officials are urging employees on the South Fork to get out of their cars, and perhaps shave hours off of their commutes, by taking the train from points west to their workplaces.

The South Fork Commuter Connection is a series of new morning eastbound and afternoon westbound trains, with buses connecting the stations to major South Fork employers, designed to ease the traffic in the so-called “trade parade” that snarls up South Fork traffic on weekdays throughout the year.

Politicians gathered in the frigid cold on the morning of Feb. 1 to announce the kick-off of the commuter program at the Hampton Bays railroad station.

The additional weekday schedules includes a 6:16 a.m. eastbound train departing Speonk, with stops out to Montauk, and an 8:26 a.m. eastbound train originating in Hampton Bays, with stops out to Amagansett. East Hampton Town is planning to use part of its funding to contract with the Hampton Hopper to extend the 8:26 run out to Montauk.

Two additional westbound trains will depart Montauk at 2:48 and 4:50 p.m., with the 2:48 train ending in Speonk and the 4:50 terminating in Hampton Bays. Hampton Jitney buses would meet the trains in Southampton and Bridgehampton.

The South Fork’s rail infrastructure suffers from a lack of sidings, which will complicate the route in the summer, when the Friday afternoon eastbound Cannonball, which carries between 500 and 1,000 passengers, will make it impossible for the railroad to offer the 4:50 return service on Fridays.

The service will run on weekdays yeaer-round, except for national holidays and Fridays in the summer.  The full schedule is online at sfcclirr.com.

The fare for a daily round trip is $8.50, which includes both the train and bus transportation.

The towns have received a total of $1 million in state funding to provide the bus service this season and in 2020.

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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