East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said this week that he would like to see East Hampton start working to create a town-operated shuttle bus system to complement a proposal by all of the East End’s supervisors for the Long Island Rail Road to start using short-run commuter trains on the South Fork.
Over the last nine months State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association have been meeting with LIRR officials in hopes of convincing the railroad to begin operating rush-hour based trains along its South Fork spur to help some commuters travel and perhaps lessen paralyzing traffic jams in the spring and summer. Doing so would require that each business district have shuttle buses that could carry train riders to major employment centers, like schools and Main Street business districts, as the county did in the spring and summer of 2007 when County Road 39 in Southampton was being widened.
That interim system got good reviews but was costly and was discontinued once the roadway was reopened. In recent years, though, there have been calls for the local towns and villages, whose residents are hobbled by the traffic and whose businesses find it hard to recruit workers from points west, contribute to the creation of the complementary bus systems that would be needed to make the commuter trains useful.
Mr. Cantwell said he would like to see East Hampton start working with engineers and busing contractors to design shuttle routes and logistics, particularly in Montauk, where the local citizens advisory committee has already called for an intra-hamlet shuttle to help summertime workers and visitors get around without cars.
“My suggestion to the board is that we … design a transportation program to provide transportation to and from the [Montauk] train station,” Mr. Cantwell told other Town Board members at Tuesday’s work session. “We need some professional help designing what it should be. We’re not going to be able to move every employee, but to help move employees to the major places of employment would be a first step.”
Mr. Cantwell said he did not know whether creating such a shuttle in Montauk would be something the town would undertake if the broader LIRR shuttle train proposal does not pan out, saying he wants to see the shuttle trains become a reality for the sake of the entire region.