The expansion of Suffolk County bus service to Sundays on a year-round basis, as opposed to just between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, has taken a step forward, with nearly $4 million freshly secured, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and County Legislator Jay Schneiderman announced last week.
The New York Metropolitan Transit Council Program Finance and Administration Committee approved distributing about $3.97 million in federal funding over three years for expanded service starting in January 2014.
“It’s a lot of money,” said Mr. Schneiderman in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We’ve known for a long time that we need to expand bus service to Sundays.”
Touting a pilot program he launched a few years ago that brought Sunday bus service on a seasonal basis to the East End, he said this additional money will not only allow the service to run all year, but would also connect the East End to key areas throughout the county, as 10 year-round Sunday bus routes will be rolled out. Holidays and evenings will be included, as well.
An additional 25-cent subsidy on the East End buses that goes toward Sunday service will be taken away, returning bus fare back to $2, he said.
Although the county is eyeing a start date of January 2014, Mr. Schneiderman said he hopes for an October roll-out. The federal funding would take effect in January, but he hopes to get the early roll-out using $1 million in state money that was made available from extra transportation assistance in this year’s state budget, he said. The county executive, he said, committed to using $1 million of a total additional amount of $2 million toward expanded services this year.
The Sunday route would include the S92 route, which runs between East Hampton, Riverhead and Orient Point, and, possibly, the 10C, which runs between East Hampton and Montauk.
Ridership figures, meanwhile, are surging, Mr. Schneiderman said, noting that making the bus available seven days a week made it more reliable for passengers.
Those who need to get to work on Sundays had to rely on having a car available to them at least one day until Sunday service started, he pointed out. Ridership then went up on weekdays, as well.