Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced Monday that the MTA has approved the reinstatement of the South Fork Commuter Connection (SFCC). The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will meet with Thiele and the Towns of East Hampton and Southampton in the near future to finalize the details relating to the restoration of the popular service, established in 2019 to reduce brutal “trade parade” traffic to and from the Hamptons.
Service is expected to begin again in the fall. SFCC service was suspended in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
SFCC ridership was impressive since its inception in March 2019. For the first six months of service, from March to August of 2019, LIRR ridership on the South Fork increased 126% over the same period the previous year before the institution of the SFCC (14,725 in 2018 compared to 33,284 in 2019). According to the LIRR, 72% of this was directly attributable to the new weekday trains. Additionally, in 2018, prior the start of the SFCC, ridership for the LIRR on the South Fork from September to November was 2,742. In 2019 with the addition of the SFCC, ridership spiked to a total of 10,060, or a 267% increase.
“I am thrilled that the East End will see the restoration of this tremendously successful commuter service,” Thiele said in a statement, which notes a dramatic increase in local traffic congestion as a result of the pandemic, as more people took up residence on the East End. “The service is needed now more than ever,” he added, pointing out that the LIRR restored the service, even as they face continuing fiscal challenges. “I thank my state and local partners, as well as LIRR President Phil Eng, for their dedication and look forward to reinstating this popular service as soon as possible.”