They’re tired of waiting for bus shelters in Southold Town

01/02/2015 12:12 PM |
(Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop. The civic group has been pushing for more bus shelters across Southold Town for three years.

(Ethan Sisson, a junior at Southold High School, demonstrates with other students from Project Bus Stop. The civic group has been pushing for more bus shelters across Southold Town for three years.

When a group of students from a North Fork church first started “Project Bus Stop,” they figured it’d be a good way to improve their community by advocating for a handful of new bus shelters.

The teenagers would also learn about how government works, said advisor Regan Batuello.

That was three years ago; the six bus shelters the group suggested have not been built.

“Now we’re seeing the process is broken,” Ms. Batuello said.

The civic organization — an offshoot of a First Universalist Church in Southold youth group — is stepping up its efforts for 2015. The students and advisors kicked off the New Year with a demonstration Friday morning at one proposed site for a bus shelter, on Main Road in Mattituck.

“We want people to see us,” said Vivienne Glasser, a junior at Southold High School, as a biting wind tore the group’s homemade protest signs off wooden stakes. Ms. Glasser said the group won’t give up.

“We really want to come through,” she said. “We want to make a change.”

Project Bus Stop members said the bus shelters would shield travelers, including many farm workers, from the elements — and drivers.

Across the street from where they were demonstrating, on the westbound side of Main Road, is a green bus shelter like the one the students are advocating for.

Mark Sisson, an advisor to Project Bus Stop, said travelers heading eastbound can’t use that shelter because bus drivers wouldn’t see anyone waiting at the bus stop and would keep driving. The lack of a crosswalk would also make it dangerous for people to run across the road to catch buses, he said.

Ms. Batuello said the landowners near the proposed site have given their okay to build the shelter. But group members say red tape over who can approve the bus shelters has held up construction. The teens have been in contact with Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski’s office and are working to get the state Department of Transportation on board.

Eileen Peters, a spokesperson for the DOT, said she wasn’t immediately familiar with the request for bus shelters in Southold Town. She said the installation of bus shelters is usually a “county initiative,” though the DOT does work with the county when building on state lands — like those along Main Road.

“We generally work very cooperatively with the county on their plans,” she said.

Along Main Road Friday morning, the group cheered as trucks, cars and vans driving by honked. The demonstration was the Project Bus Stop’s second, with plans for more in the works.

“Hopefully we’ll keep doing this and we’ll build some momentum,” Ms. Batuello said.

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