Advocates Want More Funding for Suffolk County Transit Bus System

Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Associate Director Ryan Lynch and other advocates call for more funding for the Suffolk County Transit Bus System. Credit: Courtesy Photo
Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Associate Director Ryan Lynch and other advocates call for more funding for the Suffolk County Transit Bus System. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Transit advocates gathered in Hauppauge Tuesday urging the state for more funding for Suffolk County’s bus system in the final state budget.

The advocates stood outside New York's Department of Transportation’s office on Veteran's Highway in support of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's request to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Suffolk County’s state delegation asking for $10 million in additional state funds. That money would be used to expand service to Sundays and later into evenings.

Enhanced transportation is needed in the region, where riders rely on service to get to work and school or to shop, advocates s. For some, public transit is there only means of transportation.

“Suffolk County Transit ridership has grown roughly 40 percent since 2001,” said Ryan Lynch, associate director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit policy watchdog. 

The county, he said, has "done a good job supporting its system and riders have paid higher fares for better service, but Governor Cuomo and the Senate and Assembly leadership need to do more to support workers, businesses and students who depend on the system.”

Commuters also spoke their mind.

“As a Suffolk county bus rider who relies solely on the buses to get to work, my daily commute is often stressful because the buses are systemically late or frequently don't show up at all,” said Aaron Watkins-Lopez, a Suffolk County Transit customer. 

“Suffolk bus riders need more service so we aren't constantly worried that we can't get to the supermarket, we'll be late for work or we'll be stranded for hours because our bus never arrived," Watkins-Lopez noted.

Local business leaders weighed in as well.

“The businesses and residents of Suffolk County thrive in a vibrant 24 hour/7day a week community that never takes a day off or goes to sleep,” said Michael DeLuise, President of the Melville Chamber of Commerce. 

“To hinder the health and growth of those who live, work and do business by offering them only part-time access to public transportation can only stand in the way of our growth and posterity,” he added.

Richard Bivone and Robert Fonti, chairmen for the Long Island Business Council, pointed out that enhanced service would help the small business workforce get to work and bring in additional customers to local businesses, improving the region's downtowns.  

Enhanced transportation would enhance life for the disabled in the county.

“Having access to transportation is critical to the disabled community as it ensures our population the opportunity to live comparable lives as the non-disabled community,” said Joseph Delgado, executive director of Suffolk Independent Living Organization, Inc. 

He added: “In Suffolk County people with disabilities make up a large segment of the public transportation ridership and depend on public transportation to access medical services, go to work, shop and enjoy the many recreational activities afforded to people who have other means for traveling in Suffolk County.”

DrSique March 20, 2014 at 09:34 PM
The increase in ridership is primarily illegal aliens going to the Southampton 7-11 and East Hampton RR Station to work illegally. Personally, I don't feel compelled to subsidize this activity any more than it is. Funny how not one of the overworked bus drivers showed up to protest for more funding.
G March 21, 2014 at 12:05 AM
Everyone wants something for nothing. The government is this magical piggy bank with idle money just lying around. If they wanted to raise bus fare to pay for more service, these same people would be crying bloody murder.
CAPICU March 21, 2014 at 07:49 AM
In some people's mind,if it looks illegal,smells illegal,walks illegal then it must be illegal.
Caroline Waloski March 22, 2014 at 10:18 AM
Definitely need more transportation. No one is looking for a free ride, no pun intended. If those without cars could depend on reliable transportation to get to work we could pay our fare.
Patchogue Snoop March 26, 2014 at 07:52 PM
Right on G....gimme mines.....


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