Buses Coming to Montauk This Summer

The possibility of bus service in Montauk this summer moved close to reality on Tuesday when East Hampton Town Board officials agreed to advertise for proposals from transportation companies to provide it.

Officials hope to institute a bus that would shuttle between the downtown area and the resorts on Old Montauk Highway, as well as between downtown and the beaches, and run in a continuous loop with stops at the Long Island Rail Road Station, the dock area, and downtown.

Vincent Corrado of L.K. McLean Associates, who is to draft the request for proposals from the companies, said at Tuesday’s town board meeting that frequent service would be a must in order to make bus service a viable alternative to private cars.

The service would be linked to an app through which riders could hail a bus, in much the way ride-hailing taxis are summoned, and through which the location of buses and their arrival at designated stops could be tracked.

East End officials have been working with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for some time on plans for a South Fork shuttle train to be provided by the Long Island Rail Road. Local buses are envisioned as key to such train service. Though the start of shuttle trains on the South Fork is some time away, East Hampton Town officials, concerned about summer crowds in Montauk, consider a local bus there this year a pilot program. Eventually its schedule, stops, and service could be modified to coordinate with shuttle train arrivals and departures.

A $100,000 state grant is available to help the town get local bus service going this year, Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Montauk buses are to run for 12 hours daily, town board members agreed, and begin, if possible, in late June. While an outside contractor will be selected to provide the buses at the start, the board expects to assess whether it would be better and more cost-effective for the town to run the bus service itself in the future. “I think the kind of bus plays a role in this,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Marketing and branding the service will be important in its success, Mr. Cantwell said. Laraine Creegan, the director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, agreed. A well-known, established route, and a promotional campaign will be important, “because people do not want to give up their cars,” she said.

Mr. Corrado will outline criteria for the service this week in the request for proposals, and town officials will then assess  what the companies propose.