Suffolk County has completed its final redesign plan for its transit bus system, which includes several changes on the East End slated to take effect in the fall of 2023, announced Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Tuesday.

The changes include making an on-demand pilot microtransit system implemented in Southampton in 2021 permanent, and introducing a new on-demand zone for East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk to replace underutilized bus lines there.

The Southampton On-Demand service was designed to serve the year-round community on the Noyac Road corridor between Southampton and Sag Harbor formerly served by the Suffolk Transit 10A bus route

Suffolk Transit riders can book their ride by selecting a pickup and drop-off location within the Southampton service area, either through the app (Suffolk Transit On-Demand, available at the Apple App Store or Google Play) or by calling 631.818.2982.

Changes also include a new hourly Route 80, which will include 34 local stops in Riverhead currently covered by the 8A bus route, and a new Route 62 between the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and Riverhead on Route 25A and South Avenue.

New routes up west will include Route 3 along the former S23 route from Babylon to Wyandanch to the Walt Whitman Mall via Five Towns College, operating every hour all day, seven days a week; the realignment and extension of Route 5 to connect Smith Haven Mall, Smithtown and Hauppauge with half-hourly service through downtown Smithtown; the addition of service to Brookhaven Town Hall via a branch of Route 52 and service to Yaphank Avenue.

“As we strive to expand economic opportunities for residents of Suffolk, it is critical to provide a transit system that values people’s time, and gets them to more places throughout the county faster,” said Mr. Bellone as he announced the changes. “With longer operating hours, timed connections, and more high-frequency service, the new Suffolk Transit system will be far more useful for residents, workers, and visitors.” 

Following models across the United States, the proposed redesign plan features a significant increase in the amount of service investment on higher-frequency, more direct routes, providing service in the places where riders need it most. 

Under the new system, the entire network will operate seven days a week, while weekday hours of operation will be extended system-wide. The new system is designed to offer timed connections at seven locations across the county to reduce wait times, strengthen connections to the LIRR, and get people to their destinations faster. 

“Beyond boosting local downtowns, this plan has the potential to jumpstart jobs and employment in Suffolk County by providing transit solutions to business and medical parks.” said Mindy Germain, Program Manager at Transit Solutions, which every year in September runs the Car Free Day Long Island program to encourage residents to use public and alternative transportation.

The county estimates residents will be able to reach 51 percent more jobs and opportunities within 60 minutes via transit when compared to the current network, low-income residents will have access to 60 percent more jobs, residents without cars will have access to 53 more more jobs, and communities of color will have access to 68 percent more jobs, putting more than twice the number of people and jobs that are near frequent service today near to frequent service under the new network. 

The Reimagine Transit Initiative, which began in September of 2020 and is funded through a New York Metropolitan Transportation Council Unified Planning Work Program grant, was designed to restructure transit services to offer a more effective transit system that is in tune with the emerging technologies and trends, and to identify opportunities for the use of new tools, like on-demand transit services to support the fixed route network that serves as the spine of the system. 

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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