Editorial: Give them shelter from the storms

01/09/2015 6:00 AM |
(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.

Many who commute by car have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of arriving at work having spilled coffee or juice on their pants.

Far fewer, however, have had to deal with the even more uncomfortable situation of getting to their workplaces sopping wet on a regular basis.

But that’s what happens to many who have to take the bus in Southold Town, because for some head-scratching reason, the town’s bus system has few shelters. 

So it’s heartening to see a few well-reasoned and big-hearted kids step up to help keep their neighbors safe and comfortable.

The teenagers, who formed Project Bus Stop in late 2012 and belong to a youth group at First Universalist Church in Southold, have met with the town’s transportation commission and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski to state their case for why more bus shelters are sorely needed in town.

The group wants to see six more bus shelters on Route 25 in Southold Town from Mattituck to Greenport.

“It is a matter of taking care of the people around us,” Mattituck High School student Sam Shaffery told The Suffolk Times in a January 2013 interview.

There’s no better way to put it.

So far, the agencies — the state DOT, county and town — that need to work together to get shelters placed in these areas have failed to make any progress.

Asked this week for an explanation, officials at all levels expressed a need for the shelters but lamented the challenge of finding suitable locations.

“This has been discussed at our transportation commission for the past five to eight years and has run into so many bureaucratic snags, it’s been embarrassing,” said Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley, a commission member.

The money is readily available from Suffolk County, Mr. Krupski said, but roadblocks include issues of private property, state rights-of-way and good old-fashioned NIMBYism. Very likely, the many residents who oppose more bus shelters also don’t ride the bus. They don’t have to deal daily with the elements, so they don’t really care. They’re putting issues of aesthetics — and unreasonable fears that, with bus shelters, the North Fork will become the next Queens — over common sense and decency. As highway department Superintendent Vincent Orlando told the paper, “The shelters are a need for the community.”

Government leaders all appear to be on board. If the people of Southold were to collectively make a New Year’s resolution for 2015 — one that’s achievable — it should be to listen to the kids and build the shelters. Seeing people standing out in the rain, snow or blazing sun while they wait for a bus reflects poorly on us all.

Comments

comments