Summer Brings More Transportation Options

Pictured Above: Transit advocates and riders on the inaugural June 16 run of the new Suffolk Transit On Demand bus route. | photo Legislator Bridget Fleming’s office.

Innovative alternative transportation solutions are coming to the South Fork this summer, just in time for the summer crush of traffic on the East End.

On June 16, Suffolk County launched “Suffolk Transit On-Demand,” a new pilot project which provides on-demand bus service designed to serve the year-round community in Noyac Road corridor between Southampton and Sag Harbor formerly served by the Suffolk Transit 10A bus route.

And over in Montauk, East Hampton Town and Stony Brook Southampton Hospital have partnered to fund free shuttle service on the Hampton Hopper 12 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the summer season.

Both services are provided through smartphone apps. 

The Hampton Hopper, which began operation June 26, runs on a set seasonal schedule from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with 12 stops from Hither Hills Campground, through downtown Montauk and up to the harbor, including a stop at the Montauk LIRR station.

The Suffolk Transit On-Demand service is a year-round partnership with the Hampton Jitney and Via, and runs Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Rides cost $2.25, the same as a regular trip on other Suffolk County bus lines, with a discounted rate for youth, students, seniors, persons with disabilities, Medicare Card holders, and Suffolk County veterans.

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 visiting sct-bus.org/ondemand) or by calling 631. 818.2982. Once a ride is booked, passengers will be directed to a nearby corner, and will be able to see the real-time location of their vehicle, the driver’s name, and other information to help them spot their ride.

The service also runs regularly to stops including Long Island Rail Road stations, S92 bus stops, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, the Shinnecock Health Clinic, Rogers Memorial Library, Sag Harbor Village and the South Ferry to Shelter Island.

South Fork County Legislator Bridget Fleming, long an advocate for this service, was one of the first people to ride on the new bus when it launched June 16.

 “As Chairperson of the Transportation Working Group and Vice Chairperson of Public Works, Transportation, and Energy Committee, it has been my goal to find cost-effective solutions for residents who may not have a car or who live in communities with limited public transit services,” said Ms. Fleming. “The Suffolk Transit On-Demand program is a pilot that completely reimagines public transportation. Its “microtransit” framework makes it easy for users to get on a bus and get to where they need to go using an app, or by calling a phone number. We must find ways to enhance access and availability to all and this program is the first step in that direction.”

“This first-of-its-kind service uses advanced algorithms to create quick and efficient trips in real time, increasing efficiency and reliability for riders,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This new service not only helps create that first and last mile connection, it also furthers our continued efforts to connect Long Island by utilizing 21st century transportation technologies.”

East Hampton Town has agreed to use up to $100,754 in budgeted and surplus funds to pay for the Hampton Hopper service, which runs through Labor Day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with two buses making regular stops at 12 Montauk locations. 

A new route linking East Hampton Village to Montauk, with a stop in Amagansett, is being added by the Hopper. The additional route is being funded by Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and a suggested fare that is still to be determined. That bus will operate Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:55 p.m. 

The Hopper service was well received when initiated in 2018, with ridership increasing as service continued in 2019. It was suspended last year due to Covid-19. 

New York State grants that initially covered a large portion of the costs were not available this year. A limited service, underwritten by Stony Brook Medicine, had been planned for this summer until arrangements were made by the town for the full shuttle service. 

“I am pleased that the town is able to reinstate the Montauk shuttle service which was suspended last season due to the pandemic. By offering this free shuttle we advance our goals of reduced emissions, fewer vehicles on the roadways and lesser demands for parking.” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. 

Plans are still being finalized. Bus driver positions are still available. Visit https://hamptonhopper.com for more information. A schedule will be announced and posted on the town website at EHamptonny.gov.

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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