Responding to reports of overcrowding on the cannonball train—a Long Island Rail Road express train to the Hamptons on summer Fridays—and other East End bound trains, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele this week called for more service to the Hamptons and North Fork.
Thiele, of Sag Harbor, said continued overcrowding on the LIRR Cannonball Express is another indicator that the LIRR needs to provide additional service to the East End. Thiele, a long-time advocate of additional train service, has spearheaded efforts to improve public transit on the East End, most notably with a proposal to institute regular shuttle trains on both the South Fork and the North Fork. The State Legislature had included $37.2 million in the MTA Capital Plan to purchase the necessary smaller diesel equipment that would make the shuttle possible. To date, the MTA has not taken steps to implement the service.
“The East End has clamored for years to increase service through the implementation of an integrated rail/bus shuttle network for the East End, including the state-funded Volpe Study, which demonstrated the viability of shuttle trains,” Thiele said. “The shuttle was also proven viable when the LIRR provided a successful pilot project during the reconstruction of County Road 39. In response, the Legislature provided funding to purchase new, lighter, cost-effective shuttle diesels. Unfortunately, the MTA and the LIRR have done nothing. In the meantime, the limited service that is currently being provided is overcrowded and our local roads are choked with traffic. The result is unsafe train conditions and increased accidents on our local roads. The LIRR can no longer ignore the needs of the East End.”
Thiele said first the LIRR must add more express trains to the South Fork to address public safety during the summer. Second, he said, the LIRR should put shuttle trains on the front burner so the service becomes available in 2016.
Thiele said he is willing to work with the five East End towns to pursue a Peconic Bay Transportation Authority to provide the service the LIRR won’t.