After numerous recent reports in the New York media about the overcrowded conditions on the Hamptons-bound Cannonball Express train, South Fork State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, a longtime advocate for better train service, is again urging the Long Island Rail Road to honor a plan for better service here.
The New York State Legislature included $37.2 million dollars in capital funding in the LIRR’s 2010-2014 capital funding cycle for “scoot train” service to the East End, a railroad industry term for express trains that stop at just the beginning and end of the line.
The trains to be used for that run would have been smaller diesel shuttles, running more frequently than in the past.
That money is still available for use, but has not yet been expended by the MTA. The Long Island Rail Road did not provide us an immediate response for why the money has not yet been used.
There are currently an average of three trains a day servicing the South Fork and two servicing the North Fork.
“The East End has clamored for years to increase service through the implementation of an integrated rail/bus shuttle network for the East End, including the state-funded Volpe Study, which demonstrated the viability of shuttle trains,” said Mr. Thiele in a press release Friday. “The shuttle was also proven viable when the LIRR provided a successful pilot project during the reconstruction of CR 39.”
“In response,” he said, “the legislature provided funding to purchase new, lighter, cost-effective shuttle diesels. Unfortunately, the MTA and the LIRR have done nothing. In the meantime, the limited service that is currently being provided is overcrowded and our local roads are choked with traffic. The result is unsafe train conditions and increased accidents on our local roads. The LIRR can no longer ignore the needs of the East End.”
Mr. Thiele called on the LIRR to add more express trains to the South Fork immediately, and to “put the issue of shuttle trains on the front burner so that these trains can be made available in 2016.”
One of the recommendations of the Volpe Study was to create a Peconic Bay Transportation Authority, similar to one established for Cape Cod, that would provide service just for the East End.
Mr. Thiele said if the LIRR does not implement these changes, he and the five East End towns will again take up the cause of the Peconic Bay Transportation Authority, which would use tax money generated on the East End that currently goes to the MTA but is not used to enhance service here.