Extended Suffolk Transit service on the S92 and the 10C bus lines has now become available on Sundays and holidays, offering those on the East End who are carless or unable to drive one a way to get around seven days a week.
Neither the 10C, the bus that runs from East Hampton to Montauk, nor the S92 was previously running seven days a week, making it difficult for some of those who relied on the transit line to get to their jobs. But the additional 50-cent fare on the 10C and the S92, hiking the price for a one-way ride to $2, will help defray the cost of the added run.
According to a release from the office of County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, the pilot program was approved by the County Legislature in March and signed by County Executive Steve Levy in early April. But it kicked off on Sunday with a “maiden voyage,” according to Mr. Schneiderman, ferrying some of the officials responsible, along with the public, from the Riverhead stop to the County Center.
The S92 bus line runs from Orient Point to East Hampton, making stops in Riverhead, Flanders, Hampton Bays, Southampton Village, Water Mill, and Sag Harbor. Riders can switch in East Hampton to the 10C, which makes stops in Amagansett and finally Montauk.
“Legislator Schneiderman really deserves an enormous amount of credit for this,” said Tom Ruhle, the director of housing for East Hampton Town and a board member of Five Town Rural Transit, a nonprofit group formed in 2005 to research and develop improved public transportation concepts for the East End. “This is necessary to get part of the work force out here on the weekends. Transportation is such a key element. It’s a major accomplishment.”
Mr. Schneiderman said Tuesday that it had never been a question of need for Sunday and holiday public transit. “The main obstacle was, how on earth do you pay for it?” he said. “Fares don’t cover the cost.”
However, Mr. Schneiderman said, the fare had not been raised at all in almost two decades, so the 50-cent price jump is, well, a fair fare.
“It may only run from Memorial Day to Columbus Day next year,” he said, adding that the Sunday rides would be shut down sometime in September this year because of the cost. He said the increase is only for full-fare riders, not those who receive a discount, like students or senior citizens. The 10A bus, which runs from Bridgehampton to East Hampton, is not yet slated for Sunday runs, but that could be in the cards.
According to Kathleen Cunningham Faraone of East Hampton, a Five Town Rural Transit board member, it is not a social issue. “I think there’s an impression that only poor people ride the bus,” she said. “That is simply not true.” She mentioned another board member, Vince Taldone of Riverhead, who has problems with peripheral vision and therefore cannot drive.
“Think of how frustrating it would be if you were transit-dependent and you couldn’t get to your family’s on a holiday, or to work on Sunday,” she said.
Mrs. Faraone complimented Mr. Schneiderman, along with County Legislator Ed Romaine of Center Moriches, for getting it done.
“For us, it’s the first tiny step toward a rail-and-bus network for the East End,” she said. “It is so exciting.”