New draft plan for Suffolk County bus system to bring minimal change to East End

The East End would see little change under a new draft plan for Suffolk County’s bus system released last Wednesday.

Bus route 92 in Riverhead would be adjusted to “simplify the various diversions made” along the current route by routes S92 and 8A. The schedule would also be adjusted to provide hourly service at noon, with additional peak-period trips like the current schedule.

“The 92, which passes over the North Fork, is an excellent line. It is not proposed to be changed at all as part of this plan except to improve reliability,” said Jonathan Keyes, Suffolk County’s director of downtown development and transit.

“Part of the overall plan here is also about punctuality and reliability, so that’s something we’re looking forward to fixing under this new system so that buses arrive on time and travel. at the times the timetables say. So it’s something the 92 riders can look forward to,” he added.

Northern and southern buses could meet, as well as buses coming from the west along Routes 58 and 66, in the center of Riverhead County every hour. Southampton’s on-demand transit pilot area would become permanent and operate seven days a week.

A second on-demand transit area would also be added, replacing the existing 10B and 10C routes to serve the eastern end of the South Fork between East Hampton and Montauk Point.

The plan, which took public feedback into account, is part of the county’s ongoing efforts to “redesign Suffolk County Transit’s entire network of bus routes” to align with community resources and interests. through the Reimagine Transit initiative, according to a press release. This is the first major overhaul of the county’s bus system in over 40 years.

The project aims to improve transit system ridership, which has declined over the past decade, and provide improved reliability, higher frequencies, extended hours of operation, full network service on weekends -end, more direct routes and timed connections for shorter waiting times between transfers.

The county notes that the existing bus network is unreliable, with buses arriving on time about 40% of the time. The new plan would include 12 routes running every 30 minutes on weekdays, which is currently only offered on three routes and one other corridor.

There would, however, be fewer routes overall, which has been criticized for limiting accessibility, according to Newsday. The draft plan argues that higher frequency routes are more useful than spreading services because, although some people need to walk further to reach a bus route, they would have to wait less time to board a bus. ‘a bus.

“People who depend on buses usually don’t have cars and don’t have a strong public voice to explain what it does for them. They are usually elderly people, people with disabilities and people with limited incomes. It puts a huge burden on them,” said Ed Romaine, City of Brookhaven Supervisor and former county legislator representing North Fork.

Darnell Tyson, deputy commissioner for the county’s Department of Public Works, said the county has been providing paratransit service since 2016, offering a vehicle from Amityville to Montauk. It will not be affected by the draft plan. Anyone unable to use the existing public transportation network can apply for eligibility with the county Office of Persons with Disabilities.

Suffolk County Accessible Transportation is provided to applicants with permanent or temporary disabilities who cannot use public transit buses without assistance or because the routes are not accessible.

“If you are eligible for paratransit, then you can call and book a trip. This practice has been in place for years and will continue throughout the implementation of the new system,” Tyson said.

Most routes would operate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, rather than 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There would also be buses running on Sundays every hour between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., a service not offered at all on most. routes that day.

“As you look at these maps, remember that latency matters. In most cases, a longer walk to a high-frequency route can get people farther and faster than a shorter walk to an infrequent route,” the plan says. “Remember also that some of the accesses shown on these maps are not reached on a single route but require a transfer… A frequent service is more expensive in relation to the area it covers, but is more useful in offering more competitive journey times with driving and therefore tends to attract a larger clientele.

The county estimates the average resident will be able to reach 48% more job centers and other opportunities in less than an hour via public transit under the proposed overhaul. Low-income residents will have access to 59% more job opportunities, residents without a car will have access to 53% more job opportunities, and communities of color will have access to 67% more jobs in more, according to a press release.

All routes will connect to stations, Mr Keyes said. “Part of how this network is set up is with these kind of pulse points. These are timed connections where multiple buses all meet and we have also located five of these pulse points at train stations so that there is connectivity with the trains.

Pulse points are located in Riverhead, Patchogue, Bayshore, Brentwood and Central Islip, he added.

“Today’s plan reflects one of the most impactful investments we can make as a county to improve economic opportunity for Suffolk residents by providing a high-quality public transport system that expands the access to opportunity and, in turn, increases our region’s economic competitiveness,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a press release. “Through the Reimagine Transit initiative, we are working to create a much more useful transportation network for residents, workers and visitors.”

The initiative launched in September 2020. The draft plan was funded by a $350,000 grant through the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.

Timed transfers will take place in Brentwood, Bay Shore, Central Islip, Smith Haven Mall, Patchogue and Riverhead, according to a press release. The timetables will be regularly updated.

The county also launched an online interactive transit system tool, complete with a survey to gather public feedback.

The plan is to gather public feedback over the next two months and finalize the draft this summer, with the aim of implementing the new system in the summer of 2023, according to Keyes.

There will be virtual community meetings on March 30 and 31. More information is available at connectli.org/RTDraftNewNetwork.html.

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