Update: Levy’s office says extension of Sunday bus service not likely this year

09/06/2011 4:40 PM |

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine took a ceremonial bus ride on the S92 July 3, the day the service began.

Despite calls to extend Sunday bus service on the East End beyond the summer, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said the service will likely stop next weekend and not continue until July 2012.

Group for the East End president Bob DeLuca sent a letter to Mr. Levy on Aug. 26 urging him to consider continuing Sunday service on the S-92 and 10-C bus routes.

Mr. DeLuca wrote in his letter that statistics he received from county Legislator Jay Schneiderman indicate the service has been a success.

Mr. DeLuca wrote that 3,400 riders took advantage of the new service in its first seven weeks, and the increased ridership brought in $6,500 in revenue to the county between July 3 and Aug. 7.

“Clearly this service expansion has met a demonstrated need and continues to offer a substantial revenue-generating public benefit to the service areas where it exists,” Mr. DeLuca wrote. “Increased Sunday ridership has also reduced traffic on our roadways and harmful auto emissions in our atmosphere.”

In exchange for the added service this summer, the county increased the fare on just the S92 and 10C lines from $1.50 to $2. The S92 line runs from Orient Point around the island to East Hampton and the 10C runs from East Hampton to Montauk.

Bill Faulk, an aide to county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), said Tuesday that the legislator joined the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, which also sent a letter to the county executive, in advocating for an extension of the Sunday service.

“The ball is in the administration’s court, since the resolution authorized the pilot program subject to available appropriations,” Mr. Faulk wrote in an e-mail. “With the higher fare being charged since June and running until the end of the year, halting the bus service would actually create a surplus.”

But Mr. Faulk said legislation needed to extend the service couldn’t be approved for another month, “rendering it moot.”

Levy spokesperson Dan Aug wrote in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon that the Sunday bus program will continue next summer and future plans for service extension will likely only occur after that time.

Mr. Aug said the County Executive has said all along that he would only support East End Sunday bus service if it paid for itself, which was not the case this summer. He said the fare increase on the two lines generated about $50,000 in revenue, but the service cost the county about $70,000 to operate this year.

Mr. Aug said that if East End legislators wanted the program to last more than 10 weeks they should have crafted legislation that provided a more permanent service plan.

The County Legislature approved the measure for East End Sunday bus service by a 16-1 vote on March 22 and Mr. Levy signed the two-year pilot program into law on April 8, following a survey of bus riders showing overwhelming support for the idea.

gparpan@northshoresun.com